The Texas Longhorns have advanced to the women’s volleyball championship game for the third time in four years. The only thing standing in the way of a possible national title is Penn State.
The Lady Lions has defeated the Longhorns in their last two final four appearances. Texas coach Jerritt Elliott hopes this will be different than their last trip to the title game in Tampa three years ago, a heartbreaking five-set loss against Penn State.
"I’ve become more calm," Elliott says. "If we’re going to win, the players are going to have to do it. We’ve coached them enough. We’ve got them to the point and they’re going to have to make plays and be mentally tough like they were tonight."
After dominating the first set in last night’s semifinal, Michigan pushed the Longhorns to the limit. Finally, in the fifth and deciding set, the Longhorns prevailed, 15-11, and advance to the title match. It’s satisfying to Hannah Allison, a junior who vividly recalls the Longhorns straight-set loss two years ago to Penn State in the semis.
"I think that’s a huge obstacle that we had to overcome, not just the way that we played that year, but mentally it beat us up and it was hard to regroup from that because of the way that match went down," Allison says.
After the match, Elliot said that he has lost track of how many times he has directed the Longhorns to the title game and joked that the monkey on his back has become a gorilla. But the chances of this team winning its first title with Elliott as coach rests on its ability to win in crunch time, as it did against Michigan.