The No. 1 Texas eager to finish work in NCAA women’s volleyball

For Texas, the only good thing about the loss to Kentucky in the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship game might be that the Longhorns only had to stew it for four months instead of eight.

The rapid change comes after the pandemic pushed the national tournament back to April. The new season begins this week and will take place in its traditional schedule, with the champion crowned in December.

As the No. 1 team in the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s preseason poll, Texas is expected to return to the national finals for the fourth time in seven years.

“I think they are very determined to try to win again and try to win that. They understand what’s ahead of them, ”said 21-year-old coach Jerritt Elliott, whose only title came in 2012.

Division I volleyball talent is deep because the NCAA extended player eligibility one more year due to the pandemic. Of the nine AVCA All-America first team seniors, eight have returned this fall.

The Longhorns were relatively young when they ran out for the title game. The Big 12 played a split season and Texas went 14-0 in the fall to win all or part of their 12th conference championship in 14 years. They won 13 of 15 games in the spring, including a landslide defeat to Kentucky after an impressive victory in the opening set.

“I think we will always look back and say, ‘Look, this is what it could have been. We were so close and we missed it, “said Logan Eggleston, a 12-year-old Big 12 preseason player and Big Season player.” That just left that bad taste in your mouth and pushes us. ” .

Texas recovers its entire lineup of Eggleston and Brionne Butler, both first-team Americans, along with Skylar Fields, Asjia O’Neal and Jhenna Gabriel and libertines Sydney Petersen and Nalani Iosia. Gabriel is a graduate of Maryknoll in Honolulu.

“Going to a national championship and not winning really hurts,” Fields said. “You don’t want to feel that pain again.”

Texas opens Friday against San Diego and Sunday against UTSA. This weekend there is a game in the top ten, Baylor in Wisconsin. The NCAA semifinals and championship games will be held Dec. 16 and 18 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

WISCONSIN (18-1)

The No. 2 badgers of the preseason were undefeated until they fell down in a three-set defeat against Texas in the national semifinals. Dana Rettke is among the six players who have formed the AVCA All-America first team four times and is bidding to become the first center-back since 2007 to be named national player of the year. Four other headliners return, including American setter Sydney Hilley, and Libero.

KENTUCKY (24-1)

The No. 3 Wildcats, who won the first national women’s volleyball title in the Southeastern Conference, lost more key personnel than any other elite team. Setter Madison Lilley, the national player of the year and the most outstanding player of the NCAA tournament, has remained, along with batsman Avery Skinner and libero Gabby Curry. All-America first team batsman Alli Stumler and SEC striker Madi Skinner are back.

WASHINGTON (20-4)

The Huskies no. 4 recover all players except one from the Final Four team that became the first since the rally scoring era began in 2001 to win three five-set matches in a rally tournament. NCAA. Setter Ella May Powell and right-back Samantha Drechsel were first-team Americans and outfielder Claire Hoffman was second.

NEBRASKA (16-3)

The Cornhuskers number 5 regains five starters and their libero and is one of the top five preseason for the seventh year in a row. Lauren Stivrins, America’s first-team central blocker, came out injured and decided late to return for a sixth year. Huskers had a scare last week when setter Nicklin Hames injured an ankle in a fight. He is expected to miss this weekend’s matches.

BAYLOR (20-7)

The Bears reached the NCAA regional semifinals in consecutive seasons for the first time and, at No. 10, qualify in the preseason for the fourth year in a row. Baylor is loaded with talent all over the court, but especially on the outside batter. In this position are the first American players Yossiana Pressley, the late graduate Avery Skinner of Kentucky and Lauren Harrison, who received the honorable mention in All-America.

STANFORD (2-8)

Cardinal No. 21 would already be in a rebuild last spring after winning three of the previous four national titles, and then COVID-19 made a mess of the entire season. This is one of the blue-blooded programs of college volleyball, so it’s worth watching the efforts of this young Stanford team to recover.

Hawaii, which did not play in the spring, received votes in the preseason poll. UH Hilo also received votes in the Division II preseason poll.