The Texas Longhorns looked untouchable for most of the year.
They ran through the regular season, dropping just one matchin then grinded through a tough slate of Big 10 teams in the tournament, including a sweep of the No. 1 seed Wisconsin Badgers.
But as they faced off against the offense of the Kentucky Wildcats, they struggled to keep pace late and fell 3-1, giving UK their first-ever volleyball championship.
Texas looked like it was en route to tying it up in the fourth set, leading 6-1 forcing a Wildcat timeout. Kentucky managed to hang around following the pause, then put together a 8-2 run to take a 15-13 lead. Texas managed to tie it up at 21, but two quick points from UK - including a reception error from Texas - put them in position to close it out.
The inability to capitalize on momentum seemed to plague Texas all night.
Texas looked comfortable and in command during the first set, turning two three-point runs into a lead that allowed them to cruise to a 25-20 win. Kentucky was in complete control of the second set, thanks to a long 8-2 run that kept Texas from ever gaining its footing - failing to crack 20 points in the set.
The third set was nothing short of a heavyweight battle with both teams trading haymakers in the pivotal set. Kentucky seemed to be in control, with a 23-20 lead, but back-to-back kills from Logan Eggleston closed the gap to one. Morgan O’Brien’s service error interrupted the run and gave the Wildcats match point.
Texas won the next point, but couldn’t manage to extend the rally and UK took the set 25-23.
The Longhorns got another stellar outing from Eggleston - who managed 22 kills on the night - hitting .400 on the evening. Skylar Fields turned in 16 kills - hitting .278, but .44 on kills. Breonne Butler and Molly Phillips both turned in eight kills of their own, while Asjia O’Neal registered six kills and a match-leading four blocks.
Texas finishes the season 28-2 - including a perfect 16-0 record through conference play in which they surrendered just 10 of their 58 sets.