Star Madisen Skinner smashed her way to 18 kills and six aces on Thursday in Tampa as the No. 5 Texas Longhorns stampeded through the No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers in a 3-1 win to advance to Sunday’s national championship game against the No. 1 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
It’s the second straight appearance in the title game for head coach Jerritt Elliott’s program after last year’s 3-0 win over Louisville to claim the third NCAA title for Texas and fourth championship overall.
Skinner, the Big 12 Player of the Year, looked like the best player in the entire country, flummoxing the Badgers from the service line with her six aces representing a career high in addition to a typically dominant performance at the net despite Wisconsin’s remarkable height.
Aggressive serving paid off for Texas overall with 11 aces.
In support of Skinner, Asjia O’Neal hit .688 with 11 kills on only 16 swings with four blocks, two digs, and two aces while Molly Phillips and Jenna Wenaas both added 10 kills. Ella Swindle notched 46 of the 55 assists by the Horns as Emma Halter added seven of her own along with 19 digs and two aces.
A 5-0 run midway through the first set helped Texas win a closely-contested start to the match before five blocks by Wisconsin decided the second set.
Over the last two sets, however, the Longhorns dominated, using an 11-0 run to take a 15-3 lead behind 10 straight points by Skinner at the service line and then slamming the door with a 10-1 run in the fourth set for a 15-5 margin.
Texas and Nebraska face off on Sunday at 2 p.m. on ABC.