Texas tops Louisville to win NCAA girls’s volleyball title

OMAHA, Neb. — The last decade-long quest for a 3rd NCAA title led to celebration Saturday as Texas defeated Louisville 3-0 to win the ladies’s volleyball nationwide championship.

The massive-hitting Longhorns have been an excessive amount of for the Cardinals, successful 25-22, 25-14 and 26-24. Texas was powered by AVCA nationwide participant of the yr Logan Eggleston, who had 19 kills and 7 digs and was named the match’s most excellent participant.

The general No. 1 seed within the NCAA match, Texas was ranked No. 2 within the preseason ballot in August however spent all however one week of the common season ranked within the prime spot. The Longhorns dropped to No. 2 after their solely lack of the season, 3-2 at Iowa State on Oct. 19, however have been again on the prime the subsequent week.

This was, certainly, the Longhorns’ season, virtually wire to wire. This system beforehand gained NCAA titles in 1988 and 2012. Each of these have been additionally sweeps over Hawai’i after which Oregon.

“I’m just so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to have a fifth year and come back,” mentioned Eggleston, whose kill complete was the second-best in her profession for a three-set match. “We can actually say we won our last game, and it feels amazing.”

The Longhorns gained Saturday at CHI Well being Heart, the place they’ve confronted deep disappointment earlier than. They misplaced the nationwide championship match to Nebraska right here in 2015 and to Kentucky in 2021 (that was formally the 2020 title, though it was performed within the spring of 2021 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.)

That Kentucky victory introduced the SEC its first volleyball title, and Louisville was attempting to do the identical for the ACC on Saturday. The Cardinals have been showing within the ultimate 4 for the second season in a row and defeated fellow ACC crew Pittsburgh 3-2 within the nationwide semifinals Thursday.

It has been a swift ascent to nationwide prominence in six seasons at Louisville for coach Dani Busboom Kelly, who gained volleyball titles as a participant (2006) and assistant coach (2015) with Nebraska on this enviornment. She was trying to grow to be the primary girl to win the NCAA Division I volleyball title as a head coach and likewise give Louisville its first nationwide championship in a sport aside from males’s basketball.

After Texas dominated the second set, Louisville had an opportunity to increase the match with two set factors within the third set, main 24-22. However Texas gained the final 4 factors to take the title, on kills by Asjia O’Neal and Eggleston, a Louisville assault error and a service ace from Keonilei Acana.

“It felt like if we get to [the fourth set] we had a great chance to win,” mentioned Busboom Kelly, whose Cardinals completed the season 31-3. “It’s very disappointing when you have a swing to win the set. But it’s also pretty amazing to be in that position, and something we’re going to learn from.

“These alternatives are extremely exhausting to get. However we will look again on this season and be grateful for so many issues. We have modified this system, town, the followers.”

The Longhorns were appearing in their 14th NCAA final four and their eighth NCAA final. They didn’t compete in the first NCAA tournament, in 1981, as Texas opted to play in the final AIAW tournaments that school year and won the last AIAW title in volleyball.

The Longhorns’ 1988 NCAA title came behind coach Mick Haley, who was at Texas’ helm from 1980 to 1996 before leaving to guide the U.S. women’s national team. Jim Moore coached the Longhorns from 1997 to 2000. But after Texas had its first — and still only — losing season in 2000, Moore was replaced by Jerritt Elliott, who then was interim head coach for USC.

The Longhorns have made the NCAA tournament every year but one under Elliott and have won at least 23 matches in 20 of his 22 seasons. This year, Texas finished 28-1, the best record in school history. Elliott’s 2012 championship team went 29-4, and the program had multiple chances since to add another NCAA trophy until doing so Saturday.

Elliott has been through his share of heartbreaks — among them, Texas being up 2-0 on Penn State in the 2009 NCAA final but falling 3-2 — but he said Saturday’s match was the one he wanted to win the most.

“Due to the 2 girls sitting beside me,” he said, referring to Eggleston and O’Neal. “And in addition the opposite 16 girls that have been battling day-after-day in our gymnasium. As a coach, once you handle groups, there’s a variety of issues generally. This crew, I did not have one your entire season. All people gave; they have been dedicated to the method.

“Why it was so important to me was because this was a life lesson. They’re going to be leaders someday in the community, and to remember the giving they gave to one another … they did it.”

Eggleston mentioned the Longhorns’ one loss this season — a 3-2 defeat at Iowa State in October — really was useful.

“We learned a lot about ourselves as players and a team through that,” Eggleston mentioned. “We were committed to getting better. If we hadn’t lost that game, I don’t know if some of the conversations we had and areas we improved would have happened.”

Texas has continued to be a powerhouse. However the progress within the sport displayed by packages corresponding to Louisville has made attending to the regionals, not to mention the ultimate 4, tougher. This yr, Texas swept Fairleigh Dickinson and Georgia within the first two rounds, then gained its regional matches 3-1 in opposition to Marquette and Ohio State. The Longhorns additionally beat San Diego 3-1 in Thursday’s nationwide semifinal.

Simply when it comes to the physicality and leaping capability, the game has come a good distance. Elliott made reference to teaching his first ultimate 4 on the ladies’s aspect, in 2000, when he was at USC.

“My two outside hitters were touching 9 feet, 10 inches and 9-11. Now if you’re not at 10-3, 10-4, you’re pretty small,” he mentioned. “So the game changes, and the coaching has developed. There’s so much science behind it. There’s so much numbers, analytics behind it. People can study the game and manage the game. There’s a lot more information out there than there was 10, 15 years ago.”

And of Eggleston, who joins former Longhorn Bailey Webster (2012) in successful the match’s most excellent participant honor, Elliott gave the skin hitter the last word praise.

“To become one of the greats in any sport, you’ve got to win a championship,” he mentioned. “And Logan did that now. So she puts herself on an extremely elite level. What she’s done for this university, to take advantage of every resource possible, what she’s given in every aspect … I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a statue at some point for her on campus.”