Texas is in the women’s volleyball final for the 8th time

OMAHA, Neb. — The Texas Longhorns women’s volleyball team is in familiar territory: it’s back to the NCAA championship game.

Texas, the No. 1 overall seed 1 in the tournament, beating the San Diego Toreros 3-1 on Thursday to advance to Saturday’s finals, where the Longhorns will meet the winner Louisville vs. Pitt.

This will be the Longhorns’ eighth appearance in an NCAA title game, which ties them with UCLA for fourth most. Only Stanford (17), Penn State (10) and Nebraska (10) have played for NCAA championships more often. Texas won the NCAA titles in 2012 and 1988 and captured its last AIAW championship in 1981.

The Longhorns have knocked on doors several times since their last NCAA title a decade ago, including their last loss two seasons ago to Kentucky here in Omaha. But they hope to push through that door this year.

It’s about dealing with our emotions, said Texas coach Jerritt Elliott about preparing for the championship. “I’ve got a lot of faith in this group in terms of our routine. I’ve been really impressed with their toughness and the way they want to fight. They really wanted to get this thing, and now they have an opportunity.”

Texas’ only loss of the season came 3-2 at Iowa State on October 19. But lost the first set in five games, including Thursday, 28-26. The Longhorns have won all of those games, crushing the Toreros 25-16, 25-18, 25-20.

“The first set wasn’t our perfect set,” said Texas battling opponent Molly Phillips. “It feels great to go out and play a perfect volleyball and sweep a team. But it’s a better feeling to not play a perfect game, go through some bad times and beat a team in four sets like that.”

Madisen Skinner led Texas with 17 kills, Logan Eggleston 16 and Phillips 14. Thursday’s semifinals pitted the NCAA top-four 14th NCAA program vs. The Toreros is the No. 1 seed. 2 in their region and beat top seed Stanford at home to the Cardinals in the elite eight. San Diego finished the season 31-2.

“What an amazing season for San Diego volleyball,” said the Toreros’ Jennifer Petrie, who was named AVCA’s Division I coach of the year the previous Thursday. “I’m so proud of these girls… The belief they have that we deserve to be here. We earned the right to be here, and we make a statement for that. Kudos to Texas, a very, very good team. One we pushed for tonight, and we battled him.”

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