OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Logan Eggleston, the National Player of the Year and Final Four Most Outstanding Player, had 19 kills, seven digs and three blocks to lead top-seeded Texas to a three-set sweep of Louisville on Saturday night to give the Longhorns their third NCAA championship.
The Longhorns scored the last four points of the third set, with Eggleston’s kill leading to a championship clinching ace by Keonilei Akana.
Texas won by scores of 25-22, 25-14 and 26-24 to capture a third championships, the second for coach Jarrett Elliott. The Longhorns also won in 1988.
“You’re going to make me cry,” Elliott said in an on-court interview with ESPN after being reminded he said he wanted this one more than the others because of the players. “They’ve just been so great all year long. We’ve never had one problem. One through 18 everybody has given to be a part of this program to try to win. You don’t get that in life very much. The kids do it the right way and they learned a life lesson of being good people.”
Madisen Skinner had three blocks as Texas scored four-straight points to take a 20-16 lead in the third match. Louisville went on an 8-2 run for a 24-22 lead when the Longhorns called a timeout.
“I told them we’re going to side out and we’re going to go win this game,” Elliott said, who earned his first title and the Longhorns’ second 10 years ago when the tournament was in Louisville. “They just have a lot of confidence and the way Keonilei hit that last serve was amazing.”
That’s what happened, starting with a kill by Asjia O’Neal for the side out. A Louisville error was next before Eggleston’s kill and Akana’s ace wrapped it up.
“This is what I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid and this is the group of people I wanted to do it with,” Eggleson, three-time Big 12 Player of the Year, said. “I’m just beyond happy now, I don’t even have words. This is the end of my career and this is what I wanted it to look like.
Texas (28-1) hit .371 for the match, above its national-best .335 going into the match. Skinner had 12 kills with just one error to hit .407 and O’Neal, the nation’s best at .448 this season, hit .643 with nine kills and no errors.
The key was being calm when it counted, according to Skinner, a Texas native who started her career in Kentucky, where she won the 2020 in the same building.
“It was a matter of us being confident there and knowing what we can do,” she said closing out the game. “It was just really a matter of us calming our nerves and playing Texas volleyball.”
The first game was tight but Eggleston’s 10th kill finished it. She hit .562 with one error and the Longhorns hit .533. Louisville hit .400 with Clair Chaussee getting seven kills. There were five total errors in the set.
The second game was a different story as Texas never trailed. It was 15-7 when Louisville scored four straight. An Eggleston kill stopped the run and the Longhorns pulled away. Two errors by the Cardinals closed it out, giving them eight for the set and a minus-.029 hitting percentage. Texas again had just two errors.
Chaussee led Louisville (31-3), the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to reach the championship match, with 12 kills but she only hit .158 and the Cardinals finished at .189. In their semifinal victory they had 10 aces and 19 blocks but only four aces and four blocks in the championship.
Louisville coach Dani Busboom Kelly was trying to become the first female coach to win an NCAA title in an area where she won the top prize as a player and then an assistant at Nebraska. She did make history in joining Florida coach Mary Wise as the only females to coach in the championship match.
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