Texas volleyball thumps SMU 3-0 to advance to 18th consecutive NCAA regional semifinal

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — After dropping a set to Texas A&M in the first round of the NCAA volleyball tournament, the Texas Longhorns made sure it wouldn’t happen again.

The second-seeded Longhorns pummeled the seventh-seeded SMU Mustangs 3-0 to clinch a berth in the regional semifinals for the 18th consecutive season. Set scores were 25-16, 25-14 and 25-17.

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“We were emotionally stable and started out at a really high level tonight,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We put a ton of pressure on them with our serving and kept steady the whole night. It was a really good performance by the whole team.”

The Longhorns had 46 kills with just five errors in the match, hitting an eye-popping .446, led by Madisen Skinner’s 21 kills. Jenna Wenaas chipped in 10 kills while Asjia O’Neal and Molly Phillips each had six. Texas setter Ella Swindle has 37 assists while Emma Hatler and Carissa Barnes each notched 10 digs.

Texas held the Mustangs, the American Athletic Conference champion, to a .146 hitting percentage with 29 kills in 96 attempts.

Skinner smashed three consecutive kills in the opening set to stake the Longhorns to a 16-9 lead, and after a SMU mini-rally worked the score back to 20-15 in favor of Texas, the Longhorns finished the set on a 5-1 run.

It was more of the same from Texas in the second set as they went on a 5-0 flurry to turn a 17-11 lead into a 22-11 lead. O’Neal provided the set-winning point with her lone service ace of the match.

The Mustangs fought hard in the third set but couldn’t figure Texas out. SMU was within striking distance down 9-7 after a kill by Naya Shime, but then the Longhorns outscored them 6-2 to take a 15-9 lead. Texas cruised to the win from there and advanced to volleyball’s version of the Sweet 16.

As the No. 2 seed, the Longhorns will likely have to go on the road for the regional semifinals. Stanford is the region’s top-seeded team but has to beat Fresno State and No. 8 Houston to make it through. If the Cardinal loses a match, then Texas would have the opportunity to host up to the regional final. Stanford and Fresno State play Friday night with the winner advancing to play Houston on Saturday.

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