After the conclusion of Texas’ volleyball season on Saturday night, Logan Eggleston came up to the podium for the news conference.
In and of itself, that wasn’t anything out of the norm. Eggleston, who has served as team captain for the Longhorns for the previous four years, has traditionally been the player who speaks for the team when the season comes to a close and the media is present. In 2019, she was a sophomore and had to find the words to explain a shocking Sweet 16 loss to Louisville. The game was played in Louisville. She peered into a Zoom screen and told about how she came up short against Kentucky in the final match during the epidemic season that ended in April 2021. Last year, when Nebraska eliminated the Longhorns from the tournament in the Elite Eight, she became emotional while speaking about the graduating seniors Brionne Butler and Sydney Petersen from the University of Texas.
On the other hand, things were not the same on Saturday night.
Eggleston beamed with pride as he sat on the stage at the CHI Health Center, where he was flanked by the head coach Jerritt Elliott and a longtime teammate Asjia O’Neal. She was grinning broadly and sporting a pair of ski goggles, a jubilant T-shirt, and a cap.
After the Longhorns defeated Louisville in the OKBET NCAA championship match with scores of 25-22, 25-14, and 26-24, there was no need for tears – at least not the sort that were caused by sadness. With the win, Texas was able to clinch their first national championship since the year 2012.
While Eggleston was expressing her gratitude to her teammates, she commented, “Yeah, it’s a lot more enjoyable to not be crying sad tears at the conclusion of the season.” “We are able to officially state that we won our most recent match. It has a fantastic vibe.”
Texas (28-1), although having won the first two sets in a dominating fashion, was required to show some fight before it could celebrate its victory. In the deciding set, a successful challenge made by Louisville allowed the Cardinals to seize the initiative, and they went on to take a 24-22 lead and put themselves in position to extend the match.
As soon as the Longhorns came back from the stoppage, they swiftly knotted the match thanks to a kill by O’Neal and an offensive fault by Louisville. After then, Eggleston made a contribution by scoring a kill, and all of a sudden, Texas was serving for the championship.
At the deciding point of the match, Keonilei Akana delivered a serve that Claire Chaussee of Louisville was unable to return. Texas players rushed onto the court in a horde as the volleyball continued to roll backward, beyond the grasp of the Cardinal player who was closest to it.
According to O’Neal, “I literally saw the serve coming out of my peripherals and going over the net; I was like, yeah that’s an ace.” “I made a complete about-face and then fell to the ground.”
Texas and Stanford’s 2018 championship squad are the only schools in the past decade to win a championship with the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Texas joined Stanford in this achievement in 2018. This is the first time in the history of the state of Texas that a team has finished with fewer than two defeats. Since the Elliott era started in 2001, these 28 victories place them fifth all-time in terms of total wins.
Chaussee’s 12 kills were the primary factor in Louisville’s (31-3) victory. The Cardinals were looking to win their first national championship in their program’s history.
O’Neal stated that there was no cause for alarm until Louisville roared back to take the lead 24-22. In point of fact, the middle blocker who was playing in their fifth season reported that there was even a “feeling of serenity” in the huddle that they were in.
“We still had all the momentum, I felt like, “— I quote her. “It was our turn to play. I was aware that we had the potential to make a comeback and take the lead in the game. We kept a level head and had complete faith in our abilities. We simply refocused on the essentials and got back to first principles, and that was enough to get us through.”
Eggleston was crowned the most outstanding player of the NCAA Tournament after finishing with 19 kills and earning the title. The crowning triumph of her career occurred just one day after she was presented with the player of the year title by the AVCA.
She gave an announced audience of 16,952 a taste of what they were in store for during the first set of her performance. Eggleston recorded 10 kills on 16 attempts as Texas rallied from a 3-0 disadvantage early on in the match. In the first set, Texas had a hitting percentage of.533, but the defense was awarded the decisive point.
On a lengthy rally that culminated in a combination block from Molly Phillips and O’Neal, Texas stopped Louisville from scoring while leading 20-18. Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres, Zoe Fleck, and Emma Halter all made key saves for Texas, which allowed them to maintain their lead. Eggleston prevented the ball from reaching the scorer’s table by chasing after a deflected ball that was heading in that direction.
Texas was never in last place. After falling behind in the second set, they staged a comeback in the match’s deciding game.
In addition to Eggleston’s offensive production, Madisen Skinner contributed 12 kills for Texas, while O’Neal contributed nine of his own. The team’s senior setter, Ka’aha’aina-Torres, had 37 assists, and Fleck, who played libero, recorded 14 digs.
Elliott stated, “For me, I’ve been coaching for 22 years at Texas, and I suppose another six or seven years at USC prior to that.” “For me, I’ve been coaching at Texas for 22 years.” “I told my wife today that this was the most important match I’ve ever coached in terms of the match I wanted to win the most because of the two women sitting beside me, as well as the 16 women that were battling each and every day in our gym,” the coach said. “I told my wife that this was the match I wanted to win the most because of the women who were fighting in our gym.”
Eggleston also had a moment that will live on in history as they swept on Saturday. She had come back to Texas for a fifth season for a variety of reasons, one of which was the desire to compete for a championship. She finishes her career with the second-most kills and the third-most aces in the annals of the school’s history. Eggleston is the only player in UT history to be named AVCA Player of the Year. He is also one of just five players in Texas history to win four All-American awards.
After the game, Elliott made the comment that there ought to be a statue of Eggleston somewhere on the Texas campus in the future. In addition to this, he is of the opinion that his star outside hitter should now be considered among the sport’s all-time greats.
“I said ‘any last comments,’ and my little freshman, Emma, answered, ‘winners win,'” Elliott recounted. “I offered ‘any last comments’ today at practice.” “If you want to become one of the all-time greats in any sport, the first thing you need to do is win a championship. And Logan has done that at this point. Therefore, she elevates herself to the same level of competition as the other players at the very highest level.