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Research on #1 Texas who are on a mission. Will be tough for by Domerduck
L'ville to beat them. First off at 27-1, they are on a roll. Texas has a 14 game winning streak that none of those matches went more than 4 sets including their 5 NCAA tourney wins. Their only loss was a 5 setter at Iowa State which was only the 2nd time they were pushed to 5 sets this year, the other at Kansas. Those four sets they lost that went to 25 or more (two went 27-25) were all by just the minimum 2 pts.
All of their wins against ranked teams did not go the distance (ie <5 sets). They beat quarterfinalist tOSU 3 times, including twice in Columbus and beat #1 seed quarterfinalist Stanford 3-0 in Palo Alto. They beat #4 Minnesota at home, #15 Baylot home and away, and in the tourney their wins as the #1 seeded host team were over #16 Marquette and #10 tOSU, then in Omaha over #3 San Diego (all 3-1). Now they get #4 L'ville in Omaha.
Plus their team has massive Finals experience. With their previous 2020 final loss, three of their top players who combined played in 93% of their sets were their block & kill leaders in that UK loss. Those 3 were also there when they had a home loss as a better seed to Nebraska last year in the quarterfinals.
So Texas' motto is if you can't beat them get their best players to transfer to your team. Starting with Madison Skinner who they list now as a Soph. Here's her UT bio: Two-time All-American, All-SEC, and 2020 National Champion…led the Widcats with 3.78 kills per set, finished with a .282 hitting percentage The 389 kills and her 49 total blocks were the fifth-most on the team. As a true freshman in 2020, helped lead Kentucky the title, during the NCAA Tournament averaged 3.1 kills per set and had a season-high 19 kills in the National Championship match against Texas. This year she played 94% of the sets and she's 2nd to 4 yr senior Eggleston at 3.65 k/s but a better hitting % at .303.
Realizing that Nebraska might also get in their way again they got 2 players from that team that got to the finals last year. They picked up Libero Akana who had 7 aces for Nebraska when they beat them in Austin last year. This year she played 95 of their 97 sets and is second on the team in cces to Texas star all around star Eggleston. Also from that Nebraska team they picked up block expert Kayla Caffrey who ended up 2nd to redshirt sr O'Neal in blocks.
So that totals 6 of the 10 players who played in more than half their sets were in a National Championship match the last two years, 3 on other teams. Then 3 other players who played in more than half their sets were also transfers, all from the PAC12 (UCLA, Cal, & Utah). Then they had one true Freshman recruit who played a lot of sets and shared Libero time with Akana. UT has had several NIL collectives which they are now combining into 1 fund to help finance all their sports (see attached letter from the Texas AD which mentions their #1 Volleyball team). My guess is a lot of these Volleyball players are cashing in and it may have helped getting those transfers.
From my review of Louisville's roster, they clearly are not getting the same number of impact transfers as Texas. I could only find 1 transfer Spanish International Lazaro, who is their setter in her 1st year as a grad student who transferred from USC, A team L'ville never played. I also doubt they are playing the same NIL game as Texas.
Tomorrow's final, L'ville will have their hands full. Still last year their only loss was to eventual National Champ Wisconsin in 5 sets in the semis. They ended up 32-1. This year they are 31-2 and on a 13 match win streak since losing at Pitt which they have now avenged twice. Their only other loss was at home 3-1 to tOSU, a team Texas beat 3 times this year. My gut for L'ville to win is to capture one of the 1st 2 sets and then force a 5 setter which they are more experienced (4-1) while Texas is only 1-1. I am worried about a blow out.