Coming off two come-from-behind victories without their best player, Kaitlynn Pelger, the Wildcats travel to Austin, Texas to face the eighth ranked Texas Longhorns on Saturday at 4 p.m. The two teams battled in Manhattan in October, and the Longhorns were able to win that match in straight sets.
Texas enters the match (17-4,10-1), winners of 15 of their last 16 matches. Their lone loss was at 25th ranked Oklahoma in five sets.
The Longhorns are coming off a match that saw the defeat of Texas Tech in straight sets in Lubbock, Texas on Wednesday night. Freshman outside hitter Haley Eckerman was the top performer for the Longhorns as she posted a career-high 23 kills and hit a career-best .595. Led by Eckerman, Texas was able to jump on the Red Raiders and never allowed them to be in the match.
The Wildcats will look to end the Longhorns’ 30 consecutive home match win streak, a number that dates back to 2008.
A key for the Wildcats will be the continued emergence of Lilla Porubek, who set a career high against the Sooners on Wednesday with 23 kills. With the absence of Kaitlynn Pelger, Porubek will be looked upon to give the Wildcats the scoring that they are missing from Pelger.
As big of a key to the victory as Porubek was against the Sooners, this was an example of a team victory, according to coach Suzie Fritz.
The Wildcats had many different players in positions that they have not been accustomed to.
Junior Alex Muff, a middle blocker, had only one serve in her career entering the game Wednesday night. However, when the Wildcats needed her to, she was able to step up there and get three serving points for the team in a key situation.
This team under Fritz has shown when they get down, they have a mental toughness that enables them to overcome these tough situations.
Saturday’s game against the Longhorns will provide the Wildcats with another tough match, as the Big 12 Conference has provided all year round. With the Wildcats now in fourth place in the conference, their tournament chances have greatly increased, and with a strong performance Saturday, they can increase their tournament chances more.