NCAA women’s volleyball championship: Preview, how to watch Texas vs. Louisville

The 2022 DI women’s volleyball national championship match is set between Texas and Louisville. The Cardinals are in the championship match for the first time in program history, while Texas is looking to win its first championship since 2012. The Longhorns have been in the championship game three times since then, but finished runner-up all three times. The Cards are looking to make a whole load of history — a win would mean the first time in program history, the first ACC school to win and the first female head coach to ever hoist the trophy.

After last season’s title matchup between two Big Ten programs, we have a Big 12-ACC battle on Saturday night. The No. 1 overall seed Texas Longhorns will take on fellow one seed Louisville for the trophy at 8 pm ET Saturday, Dec. 17 on ESPN2. We will be covering the championship live here with updates, stats and analysis during the match, and you can stream the game here.

How each team fared in the semifinals:

The Texas Longhorns had the first match of the evening and took down San Diego in four sets. The Toreros came into the match as the underdogs but came out on fire. The Longhorns had been the best team in the nation all season, but had some jitters early in the match. The Longhorns were held to a low .056 clip in the first set. Logan Eggleston, the AVCA National Player of the Year, was held to just four kills hitting .000 with three service errors. Madi Skinner led Texas with five kills on .833 hitting, but the team struggled with a lot of errors early on.

The Longhorns adjusted and responded as Eggleston was finding her way. Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres started to utilize her other hitters, giving Molly Phillips, Madi Skinner and Asjia O’Neal some time to shine. They picked up the slack. If it goes to show how deep this roster is, the team hit .330 in the second set while Eggleston was still hitting under .100. They have so much offensive parity, and the defense started showing out as well. Zoe Fleck did a phenomenal job in the backcourt, enabling Eggleston to regain her rhythm and get her game going again. By the third set, the Longhorn defense was up to 11 blocks and San Diego was held to .000 hitting.

From there, Texas cruised. Skinner paced the attack with 17 kills on .394 hitting and Eggleston ended up closing out with 16 kills on .196 hitting — including the clinching point.

Texas vs. San Diego: 2022 NCAA volleyball semifinals highlights

The Cards took down Pitt in a five-setter in the second match. These two teams had already faced each other twice in the regular season, splitting the series. A strong start was vital for the Cards, and that is exactly what they did. They started off the very first set on a 6-0 run and got their foot on the gas all the way through out. Pitt was relentless, though. The Panthers can grind down their opponents, and they went the distance in this matchup. After evening up the match at one set apiece, the Cards put together a fantastic run at the end of the third set to take a 2-1 lead on the match. Both teams were so strong behind the service line putting a ton of pressure on the passers, but the Cards were dominating from the line. Elena Scott and Anna DeBeer started racking up aces, and Scott had two in a row at the end of the third.

The Panthers did the very same thing in the next set, though. They came back from being down by two and went on a 5-0 run to win the fourth and force a fifth. It was only right, with how competitive the match was. But WOW did the Cards make a statement in the fifth. PK Kong went absolutely off, roofing the Panthers point after point as the Cards went on to a soul-crushing 15-2 romp in the fifth. Kong ended up totaling 11 blocks on the match.

The fifth set was just an indication of how strong this Louisville team is — they made a big-time statement with that performance. They put up crazy defensive numbers in the win with 19 total blocks as a team and 10 service aces. They won the battle at the net and their tough serving put them in a good position to succeed all match long. This Louisville team is looking strong and confident heading into the national title match.

Louisville vs. Pitt: 2022 NCAA volleyball semifinals highlights

The national championship matchup

We have a fantastic matchup for the 2022 national title with two of the best teams all season long facing off. There is a little historical twist to it, too. To jog your memory, just a few years ago in 2019, Louisville was thrust into the spotlight after taking down Texas in the third round of the tournament. Dani Busboom Kelly was wearing a red sparkly blazer, and it was a miracle. So it seemed at the time. Little did we know names like Aiko Jones would become some of the best known names in college volleyball as Louisville continued to excel on the national landscape.

Now, these teams are both one seeds, facing off for the national title. The storylines are endless. Logan Eggleston has been one of the top players in the nation for years. She returned for her fifth and final season with just one goal in mind — that national title. She can already check NPOY off her list now. The Longhorns most recently fell in the championship match to Kentucky in 2020, when one of their star hitters, Madi Skinner, was wearing blue. They want this title, they have been here before and fell short time and time again. And now they want to finish it.

Louisville, as I mentioned earlier, has the potential to make a ton of history. To repeat those feats, a win would be the first title in program history, first ACC program to win, and first female head coach to win. On top of that, there are more storylines within. A lot of players were apart of this program’s ascension to power, and they are now playing in their final season. Claire Chaussee, their leading scorer, is in her final season. And Anna DeBeer, the leader and heart and soul of this offense, went out for 12 games this season with an injury and made it back just in time to dominate it in the postseason.

As far as these two teams actually matching up goes, we have two very deep teams, and they should make for a really fun matchup. Louisville ranks third in the nation in blocks per set with 3.02. Texas is second in the nation in hitting efficiency with a .335 clip. Something has got to give. On top of that, we have two really strong serving teams. The Cards had 10 service aces in the semifinal win, and Texas has been applying serious pressure from the service line all season long. Eggleston and DeBeer are two of the toughest servers in the NCAA.

On top of that, we have two of the best liberos across the net with Elena Scott for Louisville and Zoe Fleck for Texas. Fleck was named first-team All American and Scott was named second-team All American, but both are phenomenal.

Aiko Jones, who plays opposite, will have the large task of matching up with Eggleston across the net. They will need to limit Eggleston a bit and force Texas to use other options again. The Longhorns will need to serve Louisville tough to keep them out of system as much as possible. The Cards can get pretty dangerous when they get their middles going.

The best part is that either of these teams can win this matchup. We have two of the deepest lineups in the country, two teams with so much energy, facing off for the trophy. I couldn’t be more excited.

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