No. 6 Texas holds off No. 12 Nebraska in five sets for third comeback win
AUSTIN, Texas -- Sixth-ranked Texas went the distance and defeated No. 12 Nebraska 3-2 (20-25, 25-19, 27-25, 21-25, 15-12) in front of the third-consecutive sellout at Gregory Gymnasium Sunday afternoon. Texas capped off its third comeback victory of the season and improved to 4-0 in five-set matches this season.
Texas (6-2) outhit Nebraska (7-2) .232-.223, led by senior Bailey Webster who recorded season-highs in kills (21) and points (23.5). Junior Khat Bell had her best hitting outing of the season, hitting .500 with 10 kills and zero attacking errors. Seniors Hannah Allison and Sarah Palmer led the Texas defense, each recording season-highs with 15 and 24 digs, respectively. Allison also collected 29 assists for her third double-double of the season.
Nebraska outside hitter Kelsey Robinson led the Huskers with a season-high 26 kills to go with a team-leading 23 digs and 27.0 points.
Trailing 9-7 in the opening set, Texas went on a 7-2 run to take a 14-11 lead. During the stretch, junior outside hitter Haley Eckerman scored back-to-back points with a kill and ace. Texas held on to the lead at 18-16 until Nebraska went on a 7-1 run for its largest lead of the set at 23-19. Nebraska capped off the first set 25-20 with a kill from Robinson to take the 1-0 lead.
Nebraska jumped out to the early 4-1 lead in the second game. The Cornhusker lead grew to four points at 11-7, but Texas fought back with a 7-2 run to grab its first lead of the second set at 14-13. During the run, Texas teamed for back-to-back blocks from sophomores Amy Neal and Molly McCage and freshman Chiaka Ogbogu. Neal served up an ace, followed by her second kill of the match to stretch the lead to 17-14 Texas. Texas reached its largest lead of the match at 23-18 with a Webster kill, followed by an ace from Bell. The two-time All-American Eckerman secured the second set win for Texas with a kill down the middle, winning 25-19 to tie the match at 1-1.
In the second frame, Webster led UT with six kills and zero errors after only one kill and two errors in the opening set. Texas was fueled by six blocks in the second frame, nearly twice their team average of 3.04 per set.
Texas took an early third set lead at 10-6. However, four consecutive Longhorn attack errors leveled the set at 10-10. The former Big 12 Conference foes would exchange points for the remainder of the set. Nebraska broke the 19-19 tie to take its first lead of the set at 20-19. Texas quickly took the lead back with a 4-1 run, featuring kills from McCage and Eckerman to push the Cornhuskers to set point at 24-21. Nebraska would not fold, firing off three consecutive points to even the set at 24 with a kill from Meghan Haggerty and back-to-back kills from Kadie Rolfzen. Tied at 25, Eckerman fired her fourth and fifth kills of the set to seal the second set at 27-25 and give the Longhorns the 2-1 advantage for the match. Webster and Eckerman each had five kills in the third.
Texas and Nebraska went back and forth to open the fourth set. With Texas leading 11-10, Nebraska went on a 5-1 run to grab the largest lead of the set by either team at 15-12. Texas would claw back with three straight points to tie the set once more. Ogbogu made it four consecutive points with a decisive kill down the middle to give the Longhorns the 16-15 lead. Robinson answered, tallying her 20th kill of the match. The kill capped off a 3-0 run by Nebraska to retake the advantage at 18-16. Nebraska would retain the lead and win the fourth set 25-21, pushing Texas to its fourth five-set match in the previous six games.
Nebraska carried momentum from the fourth and took the early 4-2 edge. Texas would rally and grab a 10-7 lead, led by multiple kills from Webster and Eckerman. The Longhorns would not relinquish the lead, stretching the lead to 14-11 before Webster sealed the match with her third kill of the set.
Texas opens conference play Wednesday at TCU. The match is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by FSSW+. The Longhorns are seeking three consecutive Big 12 titles for the first time.