Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Texas Beats Wisconsin for Shot at 2nd Straight NCAA Title

The University of Texas has secured its spot in the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship finals by defeating Wisconsin with a score of 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-13, 25-16) at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. Texas, with a season record of 27-4, will face off against Nebraska (33-1) in the final match scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 17, at 12 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast live on ABC. Wisconsin’s season came to a close with a record of 30-4.

This will be Texas’ eighth appearance in the national championship, and they have won the title three times in the past. However, they have yet to beat Nebraska in the finals, having faced them twice before in 1995 and 2015. Texas Head Coach Jerritt Elliott expressed excitement about the upcoming matchup, noting the significance of both teams being showcased on ABC for the first time. He believes the heightened exposure will generate increased interest and viewership for the match.

Leading the scoring for Texas was outside hitter Madisen Skinner from Katy, Texas, with an impressive 24 points, including 18 kills and six aces. Three of the aces came during a crucial 11-point run in the third set, allowing Texas to pull ahead with a score of 15-3. In the ace department, Texas outperformed Wisconsin with a final count of 11-4.

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Skinner, who already has two National Championships under her belt (one with Kentucky in 2020 and another with Texas in 2022), will be aiming for her third title on Sunday. She has also represented the USA Volleyball’s 2021 Collegiate National Team. Contributing to the team’s success was middle blocker Asjia O’Neal from Southlake, Texas, who scored 15 points on 11 kills, two aces, and four block assists. O’Neal has also played for the U.S. Women’s National Team this season.

Setter Ella Swindle from Columbia, Mo., played a critical role in Texas’ comeback following their loss in the second set. Her strategic positioning helped create advantageous one-on-one opportunities and exploit Wisconsin’s blockers. Swindle recorded six points on four kills, one ace, and two block assists, while setting Texas to a solid .274 hitting efficiency.

The rest of the Texas squad also played their part in securing the victory. Opposite player Molly Phillips from Mansfield, Texas, scored 11.5 points on 10 kills and three block assists. Outside hitter Jenna Wenaas from Frisco, Texas, contributed 10.5 points with 10 kills and one block assist. Libero Emma Halter from Indianapolis, Ind., made an impact on defense, scoring two points on aces and recording 19 digs.

For Wisconsin, middle blocker Anna Smrek from Welland, Ontario, led the team with 15 points, including 13 kills and four block assists. Outside hitter Sarah Franklin from Lake Worth, Fla., who was also a member of the 2022 U.S. Collegiate National Team, totaled 14.5 points with 13 kills, one solo block, and one block assist.

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Stay tuned for the final match as Texas takes on Nebraska for a chance to clinch their second consecutive NCAA title. Don’t miss out on the action!