Volleyball Preview #1: Kansas

#1 Texas Volleyball vs. Kansas
Texas: 19-1 (12-1 Big 12) | Kansas: 17-8 (7-6 Big 12)
Wednesday, Nov. 16 – 6 p.m. CT
Gregory Gym | Austin, Texas

Texas leads the all-time streak with Kansas, 49-5, after a thrilling five-set win in Lawrence to start Big 12 Conference play. In that victory on September 21st Logan Eggleston had a career-high 29 kills. The Longhorns also hold a 24-1 record against the all-time Austin Jayhawks.

Texas returned to number one in the AVCA Coaches Poll after falling to number 2 in the Oct. 24 poll. The Longhorns began the 2022 season as the No. 2 team in the preseason poll before spending eight straight weeks at No. 1. Texas appeared in the top four of the AVCA preseason survey for the 16th consecutive season and finished in the top two for the ninth time in the last 16 seasons. Since 2019, the Longhorns have spent a total of 35 weeks at No. 1. Texas, picked first in the Big 12 coaching poll for the twelfth straight year, is one of two Big 12 teams in the top-25, as Baylor checks in No. 15.

Texas has been the paragon of consistency for well over a decade and has been the only Division I volleyball program to finish in the top 10 each of the past 16 seasons. The Longhorns have spent each of the last 201 AVCA polls ranked in the top 10, while the last time Texas did not finish in the top 10 was on October 11, 2010. The Longhorns have also finished in the top five for 13 of the last 16 seasons, including 11 straight years from 2008-18. Texas also has the nation’s longest active streak of NCAA Regional Semifinal appearances (“Sweet 16”) with 16 straight games. Of the last 16 regional semifinals, the Longhorns have reached 15 NCAA Regional Finals, 10 National Semifinals, and five National Championship matches.

The Longhorns were the last undefeated team in the country before losing in five sets at Iowa State and enjoying a 20-game regular-season winning streak that stretched back to last season. Texas last lost to Iowa State in Ames in 2016 before advancing to the national championship game with eight straight wins and finishing runners-up. Previously, the Longhorns lost to the Cyclones in the 2012 regular season finals before winning the national championship.

Logan Eggleston became the Longhorns’ all-time career aces leader with 192 current serves, surpassing Mira Topic (2001-04), who had 185 career aces in Texas. Topic, who has played in 432 career sets, also holds the program record at .43 service aces per set. Eggleston is currently averaging 0.42 aces per set in her 462 career sets played. Eggleston is also chasing the Big 12 record of 205 career aces held by Baylor’s Taylor Barnes (2006-09).

Zoe Fleck made an immediate impact this season, starting every match in libero and averaging 4.45 digs per set. Fleck is third in the conference in digs per set and has been named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week three times this season. Texas has not had a player with more than 4 digs per set since Cat McCoy, who set a program record in 2017 with 4.41 digs per set in 2015 and finished second in the All-Big 12 in 2017.

In her first season as a setter with the Longhorns Saige Ka’aha’aina Torres quartered the Texan offense at the nation’s highest batting average at .338, the nation’s second-highest assists per set at 13.72, and the third-highest kills per set at 14.57. She also leads the Big 12 and ranks sixth nationally with 11.53 assists per set. In 2019, Utah’s Ka’aha’aina-Torres averaged 11.33 assists per set and led the Utes to the NCAA Regional Semifinals. She was an Honorable Mention All-American in both 2019 and 2020.

Texas currently leads the country with a batting average of .338, led by Asjia O’Neal, which ranks first nationally with a hit rate of 0.477. Last season, Texas set a program record and led the NCAA with a .343 team batting average. This mark corresponds to the 2007 team for the best in school history. The Longhorns have netted over a .300 clip each in the past seven seasons from 2015-21, all of which rank in the top 10 single-season marks in program history. Texas hit .334 in 2020, finishing third in the nation, and that mark was the fifth-best in Longhorn history. The 2019 team led the nation with a batting average of .325, which is the sixth-best in Texas history.

After winning the 2021 Big 12 title, Texas has won 27 conference championships, including 14 Big 12 titles and 13 Southwest Conference championships. The 2021 title was the fifth straight Big 12 championship for the Longhorns, who have won or shared 10 of the last 11 championships and 13 of the previous 15.

A large portion of the Longhorns who have won 10 of the last 11 Big 12 championships can be attributed to winning at home. Over the past 13 seasons, Texas has posted a record of 188-12 (.940) in home games. In the same span, the Longhorns have won 103-1 in home league games. The Longhorns’ only Big 12 home loss since 2010 came on October 25, 2014 to Oklahoma. Texas has won 64 straight home games in Big 12 play, dating back to the 2014 season. During that series, the Longhorns had 52 sweeps and lost just 16 sets.

Texas currently ranks fifth nationally and first in the Big 12 with an average attendance of 4,186. The Longhorns have had six straight sellouts at Gregory Gym this season and eight overall. Last season, Texas ranked fourth nationally with an average attendance of 3,626. The Longhorns also set an attendance record at Gregory Gym with 5,080 in the NCAA Regional Finals game against Nebraska. For the season, Texas had six crowds of more than 4,000 at Gregory Gym.

UT owns a 134-57 (.702) record against ranked opponents in the last 19 seasons (2004-22) and boasts a 61-13 (.824) home mark against ranked opponents at Gregory High School (58-13) and the Frank Erwin Center ( 3-0) in that span of time. The Longhorns are 5-0 against ranked opponents this season.

Texas is bringing back seven players from the 2021 roster, including three All-Big-12 players, and welcoming one of the nation’s best recruiting leagues with five freshmen and six transfers. The familiar faces of Logan Eggleston, Asjia O’Neal and Molly Phillips all return. Of the freshmen, three are among the top 50 recruits Emma Holder and Gatorade State Player of the Year Devin Kahawai and Marianna Singletary. The group of transfers includes three players who received All-America Recognition, Zoe Fleck (UCLA/UCSB), Madisen Skinner (Kentucky) and Kayla Caffey (Nebraska/Missouri). The other three transfers all played significant roles in their previous schools, Jenna Ewert (Colorado), Bella Bergmark (cal) and Keonilei Akana (Nebraska).

The Longhorns have won 29 of their last 31 away games since the 2019 season. Since the 2011 season, Texas has amassed a record 110-20 (.846) in true away games, with just five of those losses going to unranked teams.

Logan Eggleston was named VolleyballMag.com National Player of the Year for 2021, marking the fourth time a Texas player has been named National Player of the Year by the publication, following Destinee Hooker (2009) and Haley Eckerman (2012 and 2013). Eggleston was also the AVCA Southwest Region Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. The Longhorns had previously won the award to Chiaka Ogbogu (2017) and Micaya White (2018). Eggleston is also the first consecutive recipient of the Big 12 Player of the Year award since Eckerman won the award for three consecutive seasons from 2012-14. A Texan player has been named the league’s Player of the Year in 10 of the last 12 years.

Asjia O’Neal was named the winner of the 2021 Honda Inspiration Award presented annually by the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA). O’Neal recovered from open-heart surgery in 2020 to lead Texas to second place in the NCAA tournament. The heart surgery took place in January 2020 and was her second to repair a leak in her mitral valve, a condition she was born with. The operation, which lasted more than eight hours, was extremely successful and no more leakage occurred. O’Neal worked his way back up to full strength and finished second in the Big 12 Conference with a .411 batting average and 222 kills. She was named a First Team All-Big 12 and First Team AVCA All-Region, as well as an Honorable Mention All-American. She also excelled in the classroom and was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team as a Major in Corporate Communication.