#5 Texas Volleyball (25-4) was victorious over #11 Tennessee on Thursday, but it was an uphill battle to overcome sloppy play in the second and third sets following a clean first. Despite committing 22 attack and 10 service errors, the defending national champions showed resilience and fought their way back to defeat the Volunteers in the fourth and fifth sets to claim the match.
The defeat over Tennessee in the NCAA Regionals in California was achieved by a career-high performance from outside hitter and Big 12 Player of the Year, Madisen Skinner, who earned 26 kills and an equally impressive Asjia O’Neal who made eight blocks and 10 kills for the team. Even with Skinner and O’Neal’s contributions, Texas was held to a hitting efficiency of 0.263, below their 2023 season hitting efficiency of 0.281. Defensively, Texas held the Vols, the nationally ranked #6 offensive team (avg. 0.352), to 0.263.
Unlike the match up with Tennessee, tonight’s show with #2 Stanford (29-3) comes with history. Texas hosted #2 Stanford on the Forty Acres in September and the Cardinal swept the Longhorns, delivering the team’s first lost at home in a season opener since 2000. Overall, Texas has a 10-24 record all-time against the Cardinal and a 2-7 record in postseason matches. The first victory over Stanford in Palo Alto was in 2022, the year the Longhorns won the title.
In the Maples Pavilion, they face a Stanford team averaging 0.318 this year. Moreover, the Cardinal team is comprised of veteran stars who have again earned back-to-back accolades for Pac-12 Player of the Year, Kendall Kipp, Pac-12 Setter of the Year, Kami Miner, and Pac-12 Libero of the Year, Elena Oglivie. Texas has shown glimmers of a strong supporting cast for Skinner and O’Neal but in order for the Longhorns to advance to Tampa, the team’s veterans and rising stars will have to limit errors, utilize their talent, optimize their chemistry and persevere over a well-seasoned powerhouse.
Fans can watch the game at 9PM CST on ESPNU.