Volleyball Preview #1: in West Virginia

#1 Texas Volleyball in West Virginia
Texas: 21-1 (14-1 Big 12) | West Virginia: 7-21 (0-15 Big 12)
Wednesday Nov 23 – 1pm CT
WVU Coliseum | Morgantown, WV

THE MATCHUP
Texas leads the all-time series with West Virginia 21-0 after beating the Mountaineers at Gregory Gym earlier this season. At the victory of October 22nd Madisen Skinner led the Longhorns with nine kills and Logan Eggleston added eight kills. The Longhorns hit .380 as a team and had 14 total blocks, which kept the Mountaineers at a .052 batting average. Texas hold an all-time 10-0 record against West Virginia at the WVU Coliseum.

CHAMPIONSHIP pedigree
After winning the 2022 Big 12 title, Texas has won 28 conference championships, including 15 Big 12 titles and 14 Southwest Conference championships. The 2022 title is a record sixth straight Big 12 championship for the Longhorns, who have won or shared 11 of the last 12 championships and 14 of the previous 16.

RANKINGS
Texas has spent the last four weeks ranked #1 in the AVCA Coaches Poll and 12 weeks overall this season. The Longhorns began the 2022 season as the No. 2 team in the preseason poll before spending eight straight weeks at No. 1. Texas appeared in the top four of the AVCA preseason survey for the 16th consecutive season and finished in the top two for the ninth time in the last 16 seasons. Since 2019, the Longhorns have spent a total of 35 weeks at No. 1. Texas, picked first in the Big 12 coach poll for the twelfth straight year, is one of two Big 12 teams in the top-25, as Baylor checks in No. 17.

CONSISTENT SUCCESS
Texas has been the paragon of consistency for well over a decade and has been the only Division I volleyball program to finish in the top 10 each of the past 16 seasons. The Longhorns have spent each of the last 202 AVCA polls ranked in the top 10, while the last time Texas did not finish in the top 10 was on October 11, 2010. The Longhorns have also finished in the top five for 13 of the last 16 seasons, including 11 straight years from 2008-18. Texas also has the nation’s longest active streak of NCAA Regional Semifinal appearances (“Sweet 16”) with 16 straight games. Of the last 16 regional semifinals, the Longhorns have reached 15 NCAA Regional Finals, 10 National Semifinals, and five National Championship matches.

AS QUEEN

Logan Eggleston became the Longhorns’ all-time career aces leader with 196 current serves, surpassing Mira Topic (2001-04), who had 185 career aces in Texas. Topic, who has played in 432 career sets, also holds the program record at .43 service aces per set. Eggleston is currently averaging 0.42 aces per set in her 469 career sets played. Eggleston is also chasing the Big 12 record of 205 career aces held by Baylor’s Taylor Barnes (2006-09).

THE STAIN EFFECT

Zoe Fleck made an immediate impact this season, starting every match in libero and averaging 4.36 digs per set. Fleck is fourth in the conference in digs per set and has been named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week three times this season. Texas has not had a player with more than 4 digs per set since Cat McCoy, who set a program record in 2017 with 4.41 digs per set in 2015 and finished second in the All-Big 12 in 2017.

QB1
In her first season as a starting setter for the Longhorns Saige Ka’aha’aina Torres quartered the Texan offense to the nation’s highest batting average of .335, most assists per set nationwide at 13.83, and third highest kills per set at 14.70. She also leads the Big 12 and ranks fourth nationally with 11.66 assists per set. In 2019, Utah’s Ka’aha’aina-Torres averaged 11.33 assists per set and led the Utes to the NCAA Regional Semifinals. She was an Honorable Mention All-American in both 2019 and 2020.

EFFICIENCY
Texas currently leads the country with a batting average of .335, led by Asjia O’Neal, which ranks first nationally with a hit rate of 0.457. Last season, Texas set a program record and led the NCAA with a .343 team batting average. This mark corresponds to the 2007 team for the best in school history. The Longhorns have netted over a .300 clip each in the last seven seasons from 2015-21, all of which rank in the top 10 single-season marks in program history. Texas hit .334 in 2020, finishing third in the nation, and that mark was the fifth-best in Longhorn history. The 2019 team led the nation with a batting average of .325, which is the sixth-best in Texas history.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
A large portion of the Longhorns who have won 11 of the last 12 Big 12 championships can be attributed to winning at home. Over the past 13 seasons, Texas has posted a record of 190-12 (.941) in home games. In the same span, the Longhorns have won 105-1 in home league games. The Longhorns’ only Big 12 home loss since 2010 came on October 25, 2014 to Oklahoma. Texas has won 66 straight home games in Big 12 play, dating back to the 2014 season. During that streak, the Longhorns had 53 sweeps and lost just 17 sets.

PARTICIPATION
Texas currently ranks fifth nationally and first in the Big 12, with a record program attendance averaging 4,260. The Longhorns have had eight straight sellouts at Gregory Gym this season and ten overall. Last season, Texas ranked fourth nationally with an average attendance of 3,626. The Longhorns also set an attendance record at Gregory Gym with 5,080 in the NCAA Regional Finals game against Nebraska. For the 2021 season, Texas had six spectators with more than 4,000 spectators at Gregory Gym

SERIES AND FILE
UT has a record of 135-57 (.703) against ranked opponents over the past 19 seasons (2004-22) and boasts a 62-13 (.827) home mark against ranked opponents at Gregory High School (59-13) and the Frank Erwin Center (3-0) in that span. The Longhorns are 6-0 against ranked opponents this season.

THE PERFORMANCE
Texas is bringing back seven players from the 2021 roster, including three All-Big-12 players, and welcoming one of the nation’s best recruiting leagues with five freshmen and six transfers. The familiar faces of Logan Eggleston, Asjia O’Neal and Molly Phillips all return. Of the freshmen, three are among the top 50 recruits Emma Holder and Gatorade State Player of the Year Devin Kahawai and Marianna Singletary. The group of transfers includes three players who received All-America Recognition, Zoe Fleck (UCLA/UCSB), Madisen Skinner (Kentucky) and Kayla Caffey (Nebraska/Missouri). The other three transfers all played significant roles in their previous schools, Jenna Ewert (Colorado), Bella Bergmark (cal) and Keonilei Akana (Nebraska).

THE LOSS
The Longhorns were the last undefeated team in the country before losing in five sets at Iowa State and enjoying a 20-game regular-season winning streak that stretched back to last season. Texas last lost to Iowa State in Ames in 2016 before advancing to the national championship game with eight straight wins and finishing runners-up. Previously, the Longhorns lost to the Cyclones in the 2012 regular season finals before winning the national championship.

ROAD WARRIOR
The Longhorns have won 29 of their last 31 away games since the 2019 season. Since the 2011 season, Texas has amassed a record 110-20 (.846) in true away games, with just five of those losses going to unranked teams.

NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Logan Eggleston was named VolleyballMag.com National Player of the Year for 2021, marking the fourth time a Texas player has been named National Player of the Year by the publication, following Destinee Hooker (2009) and Haley Eckerman (2012 and 2013). Eggleston was also the AVCA Southwest Region Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. The Longhorns had previously won the award to Chiaka Ogbogu (2017) and Micaya White (2018). Eggleston is also the first consecutive recipient of the Big 12 Player of the Year award since Eckerman won the award for three consecutive seasons from 2012-14. A Texan player has been named the league’s Player of the Year in 10 of the last 12 years.

HONDA INSPIRATION AWARD WINNER

Asjia O’Neal was named the winner of the 2021 Honda Inspiration Award presented annually by the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA). O’Neal recovered from open-heart surgery in 2020 to lead Texas to second place in the NCAA tournament. The heart surgery took place in January 2020 and was her second to repair a leak in her mitral valve, a condition she was born with. The operation, which lasted more than eight hours, was extremely successful and no more leakage occurred. O’Neal worked his way back up to full strength and finished second in the Big 12 Conference with a .411 batting average and 222 kills. She was named a First Team All-Big 12 and First Team AVCA All-Region, as well as an Honorable Mention All-American. She also excelled in the classroom and was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team as a Major in Corporate Communication.

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