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#1 Texas dominates #4 Louisville to win national championship

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The No. 1 Texas Longhorns secured the program’s first national championship since 2012 and third in school history with a 25-22, 25-14, 26-24 victory over the No. 4 Louisville Cardinals Saturday at CHI Health Center in Omaha.

Outside hitter Logan Eggleston got off to a hot start and finished with a game-high 19 kills on a . 341 slugging percentage with seven digs and three blocks, while outside hitter Madisen Skinner clinched his second national title by coming in late with 12 kills on a . 407 slugging percentage with three blocks. Texas hit . 371 overall, held Louisville to a . 189 slugging percentage thanks to nine blocks. Libero Zoe Fleck added 14 digs and two service aces.

With Louisville outside hitter Anna DeBeer starting the game on the service line, Louisville clinched the first three points, but Texas responded with a kill by opposing hitter Molly Phillips, a kill by Eggleston, a block by Eggleston and the blocker. middleman Asjia O’Neal, and an ace from Fleck to take the lead. Another serving ace, this time by O’Neal, made it 8-6 before the deaths of Skinner and Eggleston and a net violation at Louisville pushed the margin to 12-9, then went 15 points first on a hitter’s service error. opposite Aiko Jones, the leader in aces for the Cardinals, as both teams hit . 500 or higher early and Eggleston recorded six kills.

Texas stretched to 17-13, but two backline kills by Louisville slugger Claire Chaussee narrowed the margin. Middle blocker Kayla Caffey drove across the line over DeBeer to make the kill and end a 3-0 Cardinals run, but three straight Texas service errors gave Louisville a big boost. At 20-18, big digs by Fleck and libero Emma Halter set up a block by O’Neal and Phillips to force a Louisville timeout.

The Cardinals rallied with a Jones kill. Out of the system on the next point, Eggleston pushed a ball into the back left corner as Dani Busboom Kelly called another timeout. Chaussee’s seventh kill preceded Eggleston’s ninth down the line, sending the National Player of the Year to the service line, resulting in a net violation on the Horns. A critical service error in Louisville put Texas on the brink of victory in the first set, but the Cardinals saved set point with a slide kill through a seam in the Longhorns’ defense. Texas capitalized on its second opportunity, however, with a thunderous kill by Eggleston on the back line.

Fleck’s serve, including an ace, helped Texas take a 3-0 lead in the second set, although serving errors continued to be a problem for the Horns, with two early and seven total in the game. A Skinner kill and ace made it 9–5, then 11–6 when the Cardinals called a stoppage.

On a Chaussee offense error and an Eggleston kill, the lead was 15–7 thanks to a 4–0 run that sent Louisville into yet another timeout with the Cardinals in serious danger of losing touch with the Longhorns and any chance of seriously competing in the match.

Four straight Louisville points were much needed by the Cardinals and quickly turned the tenor of the set and game, prompting a timeout by Texas coach Jerritt Elliott.

The Longhorns responded with an Eggleston kill to end a long rally with both teams out of the system. Two offensive errors by Louisville further dampened the Cardinals’ momentum as the lead grew to 18-11 for the Horns. A slide kill and a wonderful dig kill by O’Neal pushed the margin to 20-12 before a Louisville net violation led to Busboom Kelly benching his setter. It only worked temporarily as the Cardinals struggled to serve and pass the ball effectively, leading to a set point for the Longhorns and another attacking error to end the set 25-14.

Worried about Texas losing focus, Phillips started the set with two kills and a Louisville tackle error overturned on review. The Cardinals briefly took the lead from the start of the first set, but O’Neal had a kill and Eggleston a kill from the back in the transition before Louisville came back to the front with their best volley stretch of the night. Both teams went back and forth scoring with the Cardinals keeping a small margin until the Horns tied it 12-12 and then went ahead when Eggleston blocked it for a kill.

Louisville got to 15 points first, then was called for being out of rotation before a Texas lockout and back-to-back Skinner kills to take an 18-16 lead as Busboom Kelly wanted a timeout. A block and another kill by Skinner made it 20-16 and took another Cardinals timeout with the Longhorns on a 10-4 run. Two straight Louisville points outside halftime tightened the set, with Elliott opting for a timeout.

Chaussee hit a back-line block to continue the Cardinals’ surge, but Skinner’s block stopped it, albeit temporarily with Eggleston pushing a ball over the end line before a controversial play – Phillips appeared to have killed the block, but the ball was deemed to have touched his shoulder after the block. Louisville then took a 22–21 lead thanks to the 6–1 run delayed with an Eggleston kill. A Chaussee kill out of the system scored a big point for the Cardinals, followed by a backline kill by DeBeer for the set point.

After a Texas timeout, O’Neal had a kill from the middle to save the first set point and a good serve by libero Keonilei Akana put Louisville out of the system and Chaussee missed badly in the second to tie it at 24-24 after review maintained the call. On an Eggleston drive, the Cardinals were called for a net violation and Akana ended the game with an ace service to win the national title.

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