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No. 13 WVU meets No. 1 Texas in home fall finale

Gold and Blue Nation

The No. 13-ranked West Virginia University volleyball team will cap its home fall slate this weekend with a two-match series against No. 1 Texas on Nov. 12-13.

Both matches will begin at 6 p.m. ET inside the WVU Coliseum. The contests also will be streamed live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. For more information, or to sign up for the digital platform, visit WVUsports.com/Big12Now.

Live stats and video links for both matches can be found on WVUsports.com.

The WVU Coliseum will operate at 25% capacity this weekend, with only lower bowl seating available, as part of the health, safety and wellness measures being implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facemasks will be required of all spectators entering the arena and should be worn at all times. Additionally, to provide a contactless entry, WVU has switched to mobile ticketing for all fans this season. Fans are advised to download and store tickets to their Apple or Android smartphone prior to arriving at the Gold Gate. No paper tickets will be offered. More information on mobile ticketing is available at WVUsports.com/MobileTickets.

An extremely limited amount of tickets remain on sale. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance by visiting WVUGAME.com or calling 1-800-WVU GAME to avoid lines at the gate on game day. When purchasing online, tickets are $5 each. At the ticket window on game day, any remaining tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for youth and seniors. The discounted online pricing will be available until first serve of the match.

A limited amount of WVU student tickets also will be made available at the Mountaineer Ticket Office, located at the Gold Gate of the WVU Coliseum. The office, as well as the Gold Gate, opens a half hour before first serve on game day. WVU students, who are admitted for free with a valid Student I.D., are required to show their campus pass upon entry.

All tickets are reserved in blocks, ranging from one to six seats, and socially distanced. When purchasing tickets, the system will allocate the best seats available based on the quantity selected.

“They (Texas) are good,” sixth-year coach Reed Sunahara said. “They are No. 1 for a reason. They have been good. It’s not like all of the sudden they became good. They have been good for a number of years now. Every year they compete for a national title, but I am impressed with them. They are a physical, athletic team. They are a handful. We have to compete hard. We have to take care of the ball, and we have to make sure we control our side of the net.”

Thursday marks the first match of the season between the two teams, as the Mountaineers (7-5) and Longhorns (12-0) first met in August 2012. Texas currently holds a 16-0 all-time series advantage and is 8-0 in Morgantown. However, WVU has taken UT to five sets at the WVU Coliseum twice since 2014.

WVU has taken six of its 12 matches to five sets this season, including four at home. The Mountaineers are 4-2 at home this season and are 326-244 inside the WVU Coliseum all-time.

West Virginia most recently claimed a pair of wins over Iowa State last week, winning in five sets on Nov. 6 and three sets on Nov. 7. With the wins, WVU has won a program-best seven conference matches and earned a season sweep over ISU for the first time in program history.

Following the wins, WVU jumped back into the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Rankings, checking in at No. 13 after sitting just outside the top 15 last week.

Senior middle blocker Briana Lynch also was named WVU’s Student-Athlete of the Week for the third time on Monday. The Johns Creek, Georgia, native was a force to be reckoned with at the net, turning in a team-high .391 hitting efficiency and averaging 1.50 blocks per set in the two-match series against Iowa State.

As a team, WVU ranks 27th in blocks (2.12 b/s), 31st in digs (14.27 d/s), 36th in opponent hitting percentage (.221), 40th in kills (12.20 k/s) and 42nd in assists (11.06 a/s).

Individually, a pair of Mountaineers sit in the top five of three Big 12 categories. Junior setter Lacey Zerwas comes in at No. 3 with 9.76 assists per set, and Lynch checks in at No. 4 with a .355 hitting efficiency. Lynch, the Mountaineers’ lone selection on the 2020 Preseason All-Big 12 Team, also sits at No. 5 in the conference with 1.12 blocks per set.

Texas ranks No. 1 in the AVCA Top-15 Poll for the seventh consecutive week. The poll debuted on Sept. 30 with UT at No. 1. Holding an unblemished record, the Longhorns have remained in that spot. Texas currently leads the Big 12 with a .337 hitting percentage and 14.51 kills per set.

The trio of junior middle blocker Brionne Butler, redshirt sophomore middle blocker Asjia O’Neal and sophomore middle blocker Molly Phillips are the top three hitters in the conference. Butler is hitting .448, while O’Neal is at a .385 clip, and Phillips is hitting .363. Sophomore right-side hitter Skylar Fields is hitting .320, and junior outside hitter Logan Eggleston is at a clip of .302. All five of those players rank inside the top 10 in hitting in the Big 12.

For more information on the Mountaineers, visit WVUsports.com and follow @WVUVolleyball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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