With Texas up 2-1 and hoping to put the match away in four games, Stanford head coach John Dunning called timeout with his Cardinal down 8-4 in the pivotal fourth game.
Following the timeout, a long volley ensued and a dig from Longhorns’ senior libero Sarah Palmer caused the ball to sail into the Longhorns’ backcourt and graze one of the many banners that adorn Gregory Gym.
Without panic, the Horns gathered the stray ball and scored the point to go up 9-4.
The play summed up Texas’ win over No. 2-ranked Stanford, as perseverance reigned supreme.
The Horns would weather a late rally by Stanford to take the fourth game and match (29-27, 18-25, 25-16, 27-25), and complete a weekend sweep of the top two ranked teams in NCAA volleyball.
“It was a great weekend for us in front of a great home crowd,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “To play two of the top teams in the country and having to deal with the emotional status of having to play one night and bounce back and play well the other night, that’s a challenge, and I’m really proud of our team with how they responded.”
Statistically, it was a match to forget. Texas converted a mere 15.9 percent of its kill attempts, the Longhorns’ lowest output of this short season.
Stanford didn’t bode much better, converting 19 percent of its kill attempts and recording 16 service errors.
The Longhorns were led by All-Americans Haley Ackerman and Bailey Webster, who recorded 15 and 13 kills, respectively. Hannah Allison (20 assists, 12 digs) and Chloe Collins (20 assists, 13 digs) each finished with double-doubles. This marked the second-straight double-double for freshman setter Collins.
In the first set, Stanford got off to a hot start scoring the first two points. The Horns quickly took the lead at 4-3. This lead would inflate to 17-12 before Stanford coach John Dunning called time.
Stanford followed this timeout with a 5-0 run to make it all square at 17. During this stretch, sophomore outside hitter Rachel Williams recorded four-straight kills for Stanford. The Cardinal would eventually take the lead at 19-18 before Texas regained control and stretched the lead to collect three game points at 24-21.
Stanford dug deep and scored three straight points, but Texas would come out on top 29-27 to take the hotly-contested first game.
“We flipped our lineup to try to give them different looks,” Elliott said. “We responded to them by being a little more aggressive with our body posture and how we touched the first ball, and we were able to score.”
Similar to the first game, Stanford scored the first two points of game two and extended the lead to four at 8-4.
Texas was finally able to knot it all up at 12 following a timeout by Elliott, but that would be as close as Texas got as Stanford went on to even things up 1-1 (25-18).
Game three was dominated by the Horns who were able to get separation early and never relinquished the lead. Stanford’s momentum was undercut by its serving woes, committing three service errors in a row. This culminated in a 6-2 run by Texas that put the game out of reach.
Stanford, despite being the current No. 2 team in the nation, lost their previous match Saturday against Florida.
This game marked the final match of the Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic, with Texas being the only team to go undefeated in its two games.