Longhorns Fall to Wisconsin in NCAA Semifinals
SEATTLE - The top-seeded and defending national champion Texas Longhorns (27-3) saw their 10-match postseason winning streak snapped Thursday night at KeyArena with a 3-1 (19-25, 18-25, 28-26, 23-25) loss to 12th-seeded Wisconsin (28-9) in the national semifinals.
Texas totaled a season-high 19 blocks, but couldn’t overcome a 2-0 deficit as the Badgers advanced to their first national championship in program history. Texas compiled a 4-1 postseason mark and was making its fifth NCAA semifinals appearance in the last six years.
The Badgers led by as much as seven points in the first set. Texas came within one, trimming the Wisconsin lead to 20-19 at one point, but surrendered five straight points to close out the set, 25-19. In set two, Wisconsin started with a 3-0 lead and eventually jumped ahead 13-5. The Longhorns pulled within six, but dropped the game, 25-18.
Texas took an early lead in the third set, its first since the opening moments of the match. Wisconsin had five hitting errors in the early stages, but still rallied to take a 9-8 lead. Texas came back with seven of the next 10 points to go ahead 15-12 and pushed ahead 23-22 on a Bailey Webster kill. The set eventually ended up tied at 24. After a Haley Eckerman hitting error, the Badgers had match point, but Webster came through with another crucial kill. Texas went ahead 27-26 on an Eckerman kill and on its third set point got a hitting error from Wisconsin to force a fourth game with a 28-26 set win.
The two teams played evenly in the fourth set with a 14-14 tie before Texas pushed ahead 18-16 following a kill by Chiaka Ogbogu and block by Khat Bell causing Wisconsin to call a timeout. An Eckerman kill pushed the Longhorns lead to three, but the Badgers came back to tie the score at 21. After two more ties (22-22 and 23-23), the Wisconsin used back-to-back kills to close out the final set and the match.
Two-time Big 12 Player of the Year Eckerman led the Longhorns with 17 kills, but also had nine hitting errors. No other Longhorn reached double-digit kills and the team hit just .156, including marks of .106 and .133 in the third and fourth sets, respectively.
Texas was trying to become the sixth school to win consecutive national titles and had won 23 straight matches since losing to Arizona State in early September. The 23 straight wins was the second longest streak in program history.
The Badgers are the lowest seeded team to reach the championship.
The Big 12 finished the 2013 NCAA postseason with a 7-4 record.
Texas entered the match ranked in the top 10 all season and claimed its seventh Big 12 title this year, finishing the conference season with a 16-0 record. The Longhorns are led by head coach Jerritt Elliott, who is in his 13th season at Texas, and was named the 2012 AVCA Division I Coach of the Year. Elliott is one of two coaches to earn 200 or more Big 12 wins in conference history.
BIG 12 IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
Thursday, Dec. 5
No. 1 Texas 3, Texas State 0
Oklahoma 3, Alabama 1
Friday, Dec. 6
Colorado 3, Iowa State 1
No. 14 Kansas 3, Wichita State 1
Friday, Dec. 6
No. 1 Texas 3, Texas A&M 1
No. 7 Stanford 3, Oklahoma 0
Saturday, Dec. 7
No. 14 Kansas 3, Creighton 1
Friday, Dec. 13
No. 1 Texas 3, American 1 - Lincoln Regional
No. 3 Washington 3, No. 14 Kansas 0 - Los Angeles Regional
Saturday, Dec. 14
No. 1 Texas 3, No. 8 Nebraska 0 - Lincoln Regional
Thursday, Dec. 18
No. 12 Wisconsin 3, No. 1 Texas 1 - Seattle, Wash.