The No. 4 Texas Longhorns used 58 kills and a .336 hitting percentage as part of a balanced all-around attack to beat the No. 5 Nebraska Cornhuskers 3-1 in Omaha on Monday to advance to the program’s 13th Final Four and first since 2016 thanks to the 25-22, 19-25, 25-15, 25-21 win.
Junior outside hitter Logan Eggleston tied for the team lead with 18 kills, but her .228 hitting percentage was well below her season average of .328 thanks to six errors. At the service line, Eggleston made up for those relative struggles against the high standard she sets in virtually every match, tying her career high with five aces and keeping Nebraska out of system with her tough serves.
Throughout the first two sets, head coach Jerritt Elliott’s strategy of giving his players wide leeway to attack the Cornhuskers aggressively with their serves wasn’t paying off, as the Longhorns suffered through nine service errors and only one ace.
Meanwhile, Nebraska used four aces in the second set to tie the match at 1-1 with a 25-19 win.
Elliott stayed the course and five aces in the third set blew the match wide open as Texas won the set 25-15 behind strong serving from Eggleston, including two straight aces, to turn a 6-4 Cornhuskers lead into an 8-6 Longhorns advantage and force a timeout by Nebraska.
When Eggleston got back to the service line later in the set with her heavy, powerful floating jump serve, Texas ran off four more points to take a decisive 23-13 lead thanks to another ace from Eggleston and three kills from outside hitter Skylar Fields, who was phenomenal in the third set and throughout the match. Fields had seven kills without an error in the third set and finished tied with Eggleston with a game-high 18 kills against a single attacking error for a remarkable .630 hitting percentage.
In a fitting development, it was a kill from Fields that ended the match in favor of the Horns.
TEXAS FIGHT IN THE FINAL FOUR pic.twitter.com/0NTyx56ewM— Texas Volleyball (@TexasVolleyball) April 19, 2021
Middle blocker Asjia O’Neal added 10 kills on a .471 hitting percentage to provide support as Nebraska simply couldn’t match the firepower of Texas — the Horns finished with a 58-44 advantage in kills and a .336-.171 advantage in hitting percentage.
Strong defense from libero Morgan O’Brien and defensive specialist Nalani Iosa, as well as typically strong setting from Jhenna Gabriel, completed an impressive all-around performance by the Longhorns.
“It’s such an amazing feeling because I know I can trust every one of my teammates to put the ball away and I know Jhenna is going to dish the ball out to everyone,” Eggleston said. “Everyone is going to be ready all the time, so it’s such a great feeling just to have that on a team — I’ve never had a team like that — so I’m so proud of everyone I play with and I’m so excited for the next round.”
On Thursday, Texas will face the winner of No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 8 Florida for a chance to play for the national title.