For the 16th time in the last 17 years, the No. 1 Texas Longhorns will make an appearance in the Elite Eight following a 3-1 victory over the No. 16 Marquette Golden Eagles on Thursday at Gregory Gym in front of a raucous partisan crowd.
The Longhorns hit .343 in the match while holding the Golden Eagles to a .098 hitting percentage, dominating at the net with a 15-4 advantage in blocks, and dominating at the service line as well with a 10-3 margin in aces. Texas outside hitters Logan Eggleston (15 kills) and Madisen Skinner (11 kills) led the way in the attack as middle blocker Asjia O’Neal turned in a strong performance defensively with a game-high eight blocks while adding nine kills. Eggleston and libero Zoe Fleck each had three service aces.
The crowd noise appeared to rattle Marquette early in the match as Texas jumped out to a 7-0 lead behind strong serving from Fleck, who had two aces in the opening run. When the Longhorns hitters got going in the attack, Texas jumped out to an 11-1 lead, forcing a timeout by the visitors, one of four taken in the first two sets.
The Horns continued to dominate through the end of the second set, winning the first 25-14 and the second 25-13 before head coach Jerritt Elliott’s team appeared to lose some focus in the third set and the passing suffered as a result in a 25-19 win for a resilient Golden Eagles team that wasn’t ready to go out easily.
After Texas jumped out to a 9-5 lead in the fourth set, Marquette benefitted from two mistakes by the Longhorns before the home team won four of five points midway through the set to take an 18-12 lead on an ace from Eggleston. Once again, Marquette scored the next two points, but Texas went on another 4-1 run thanks to two kills by Skinner, a block by Skinner and middle blocker Bella Bergmark, and an attack error by the Golden Eagles. With a 22-15 lead, the Horns were firmly in control and put the match away with kills by Skinner, O’Neal, and outside hitter Molly Phillips for a 25-17 fourth-set victory.
In Eggleston’s last match at Gregory Gym, Texas will face No. 10 Ohio State at 5 p.m. Central on ESPNU. To open the season, the Longhorns beat the Buckeyes 3-0 and 3-1 in Columbus.