Volleyball No. 2 preview: at Kansas State

No. 2 volleyball in the state of Kansas
Texas: 16-1 (8-1) | Kansas State: 12-9 (3-5)
Friday, October 28 – 6:30 p.m. CT
Bramlage Coliseum | Manhattan, Kan.

Texas leads the series with Kansas State, 49-8, and has a 20-5 edge in Manhattan. Earlier this month, the Longhorns swept Kansas State in Gregory Gym. Logan Eggleston had 13 kills with five digs and four aces while hitting .684 in the match.

Texas entered the week as the No. 2 team in the AVCA Coaches Poll after spending the last eight weeks ranked No. 1. The Longhorns began the 2022 season as the No. 2 team in the preseason poll. Texas has finished in the top four in the AVCA preseason poll for the 16th straight season and has finished in the top two spots for the ninth time in the last 16 seasons. Since 2019, the Longhorns have spent a total of 32 weeks in first place. Picked first in the Big 12 Coaches’ Poll for the 12th straight year, Texas is one of two Big 12 teams in the top-25 as Baylor checks in at No. 13.

Texas has been a model of consistency for more than a decade and is the only Division I volleyball program to finish each of the last 16 seasons ranked in the top 10. The Longhorns have spent each of the last 198 AVCA polls ranked in the top 10 while Texas has not been in the top 10 last ranked Oct 11, 2010. The Longhorns have also finished in the top 5 in 13 of the last 16 seasons, including 11 straight years from 2008-18. Texas also has the longest active NCAA Regional Semifinal (“Sweet 16”) streak with 16 straight games. Of the last 16 regional semifinal appearances, the Longhorns have advanced to 15 NCAA regional finals, 10 national semifinals and five national championship games.

The Longhorns were the last remaining undefeated team in the country before falling at Iowa State in five sets to snap a 20-game regular season winning streak dating back to last season. Texas last lost to Iowa State in 2016 in Ames before reeling off eight straight wins to advance to the national championship game and finish as runner-up. Before that, the Longhorns lost to the Cyclones in the 2012 regular season finale before winning the national championship.

Logan Eggleston became the Longhorns all-time leader in career aces, currently with 190 service aces, surpassing Mira Topic (2001-04), who had 185 in her Texas career. Topic, who has played in 432 career sets, also holds the program record with 0.43 service aces per set. Eggleston is currently averaging 0.42 aces per set in 449 career sets played. Eggleston also trails the Big 12 record with 205 career aces held by Baylor’s Taylor Barnes (2006-09).

Zoe Fleck making an immediate impact this season, starting every game at libero and averaging 4.41 digs per set. Fleck is third in the conference in sacks per set and has already been named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week three times this season. Texas hasn’t had a player average more than 4 digs per set since Cat McCoy set a program record with 4.41 digs per set in 2017. McCoy, Texas’ all-time leader in career digs, was named an honorable mention All-American in 2017 and second-team All-Big 12 in 2015 and 2017.

In his first season as a Longhorns starter, Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres he improved the Texas offense to the top hitting percentage in the nation at .337, the third most assists per set nationally at 13.54 and the fourth most kills per set at 14.42. She also leads the Big 12 and ranks seventh nationally with 11.30 assists per set. In 2019 at Utah, Ka’aha’aina-Torres averaged 11.33 assists per set and led the Utes to the NCAA Regional semifinals. She was named an honorable mention All-American in 2019 and 2020.

Texas currently leads the nation with a .337 hitting percentage, led by Asia O’Neal, who is first nationally with a .479 hitting percentage. Last season, Texas tied the program record and led the NCAA with a .343 team hitting percentage. That mark matches the 2007 team for the best in school history. The Longhorns hit over a .300 clip in each of the last seven seasons from 2015-21, all ranking in the top 10 individual seasons in program history. Texas hit .334 in 2020 to finish third in the nation and the mark was the fifth best in Longhorn history. The 2019 team led the nation with a .325 hitting percentage, sixth best in Texas history.

After winning the Big 12 title in 2021, Texas has won 27 conference championships, including 14 Big 12 titles and 13 Southwest Conference Championships. The 2021 title was the fifth straight Big 12 Championship for the Longhorns, who have won or shared 10 of the last 11 league championships and 13 of the previous 15.

Much of the Longhorns, who have won 10 of the last 11 Big 12 championships, chose to win at home. Over the past 13 seasons, Texas has produced a 187-12 (.939) home run record. During that same span, the Longhorns went 102-1 in league home games. The Longhorns’ only Big 12 home loss since 2010 came against Oklahoma on October 25, 2014. Texas has won 63 straight home games in Big 12 play since the 2014 season. During that streak, the Longhorns had 51 sweeps and lost only 16 sets.

Texas is currently fifth nationally and first in the Big 12 with an average attendance of 4,080. Last season, Texas ranked fourth nationally with an average attendance of 3,626. The Longhorns also set a Gregory Gym single-game attendance record with a regional final crowd of 5,080 NCAA vs. Nebraska. For the season, Texas had six attendances of more than 4,000 in Gregory Gym.

UT owns a 134-57 (.702) record against ranked opponents over the past 19 seasons (2004-22) and boasts a 61-13 (.824) home mark against ranked opponents at Gregory Gymnasium (58-13) and the Frank Erwin Center (3 -0) during this interval. The Longhorns are 5-0 against ranked opponents this season.

Texas returns seven players from the 2021 squad, including three All-Big 12 players, and welcomes one of the top recruiting classes in the country with five freshmen and six transfers. Known faces Logan Eggleston, Asia O’Neal and Molly Phillips they all come back. Of the freshmen, there are three newcomers in the top 50 Emma Halter and Gatorade State Players of the Year Devin Kahahawai and Marianna Singletary. The transfer group includes three players who earned All-American recognition, Zoe Fleck (UCLA/UCSB), Madison Skinner (Kentucky) a Kayla Caffey (Nebraska/Missouri). The other three transfers played significant roles at their previous schools, Jenna Ewert (Colorado), Bella Bergmark (Cal) a Keonilei Akana (Nebraska).

The Longhorns have won 27 of their last 29 road games dating back to the 2019 season. Since the 2011 season, Texas has a 108-20 (.844) record in true road games, with only five of those losses coming to unranked teams.

Logan Eggleston was honored as the 2021 VolleyballMag.com National Player of the Year, marking the fourth time a Texas player has been named the publication’s National Player of the Year, 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 season. The Longhorns have previously earned the award in Chiaka Ogbogu (2017) and Micaya White (2018). Eggleston is also the first Big 12 Player of the Year honoree since Eckerman won the award in three straight seasons from 2012-14. The Texas native has been named MVP in 10 of the last 12 years.

Asia 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 help lead Texas to a runner-up finish in the NCAA Tournament. The heart surgery took place in January 2020 and was her second to repair a leaky mitral valve, a condition she was born with. The operation, which lasted more than eight hours, was extremely successful and there was no more leakage. O’Neal returned to full strength and finished second in the Big 12 Conference with a .411 hitting percentage and 222 kills. She was named 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, being named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team as a corporate communications major.


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