LOUISVILLE, Ky. —
Elliott’s adjustments while the Longhorns trailed also paid off against the Wolverines, especially after Webster re-entered in the fourth set.
“Mainly, it was focusing on our side of the net and trying to play Texas volleyball,” Webster said. “We had to know that we could play the same way we did in the first game.”
Texas has won its last five matches and now gets a chance to atone for that 2009 final that slipped from their grasp.
“Being here for the third time and not being able to finish it off with a title has been kind of devastating,” McNeal said. “Winning it in my senior year would be awesome.”
Reaching that goal depends on how well Texas handles an Oregon team coming off a huge accomplishment against Penn State.
Facing a 33-2 Nittany Lions team that had lost just one set in the tournament entering Thursday’s semifinal, the Ducks shook off a 25-21, first-set loss and swept the next three — the last two in surprisingly easy fashion.
The second set marked the turning point as Oregon jumped to a 20-10 lead before Penn State rallied with a 14-4 run to tie the set. The Ducks then faced three set points before tying each time and eventually winning the last two for a 30-28 victory.
Oregon trailed just once after that.
“I think they’ve had that all along,” Ducks coach Jim Moore said of his team’s poise. “They’ll do whatever it is, not just physical work. When we lost last year, they knew it wasn’t a physical thing; they knew it was an emotional, mental thing. They worked real hard. That’s the hardest thing to work on in sport.”
Oregon ended up winning most statistical areas as a result. The Ducks topped the Nittany Lions in kills (63-52), digs (80-67) and posted six service aces and just one error.