LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Texas and Oregon each has reason to believe it is a team of destiny Saturday night in the NCAA women’s volleyball championship.
The third-seeded Longhorns (28-4) have earned their second title-game appearance in four years, hoping to claim their first national championship since 1998. They overcame a 2-1 deficit to beat Michigan in five sets Thursday night in the semifinals and now aim to close the deal after blowing a 2-0 lead against Penn State in the 2009 final.
Oregon (30-4) will be making its championship debut after a four-set upset victory over top-seeded Penn State. While that outcome stunned many who believed the Nittany Lions were a championship lock, the fifth-seeded Ducks always believed they could do it and are eager to continue that roll for one more game.
“A lot has gone into this year,” Texas coach Jerritt Elliott said. “I felt like in 2009 we had a great shot, in 2010 we overachieved to get here and we created standards that are great to be a part of.
“This team is in a good spot right now, I like the mentality. For them to go out and win would mean so much to me, just knowing how hard they went out and worked. ... We are going to see some adversity tomorrow, but we are going to face it and do the things that we have done the last half of the season.”
For the Longhorns, that means plenty of hitting.
Offense made the difference in Texas’ five-set victory over unseeded Michigan. The Longhorns dominated the first set before dropping the next two, then reclaimed their rhythm to easily win the fourth and control the fifth.
Although junior outside hitter Bailey Webster appeared to have the biggest impact with many of her 18 kills coming during Texas’ rally, she had help from sophomore Haley Eckerman (16 kills, 8 digs) and senior Sha’Dare McNeal (13 kills, 12 digs).