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After a 10-0 start to the season, the Texas Longhorns have cemented themselves as the top NCAA volleyball team in the country. Throughout the year they have garnered fans for their energetic play, contagious teamwork, and enthusiastic spirit. As the Longhorns have become one of the most followed college teams in the country, they are led by players that are looking to use their gifts to make an impact.

Emma Halter

Photo Courtesy of Texas Athletics
A spark plug for the Longhorns early on in the 2022 season has been freshman defensive specialist Emma Halter. A native of Indianapolis and former star at Roncalli High School, Emma has become a regular for the Longhorns as she has helped lead them to some of their biggest wins on the season. Although she is only just starting her college career, she said there was no doubt that Texas was where she wanted to be.

“God led me to Texas because of the culture there, the motivated female athletes, the amazing coaching staff, and the fantastic education I will have the opportunity to receive.”

On the court, Emma says faith is what has helped guide her throughout the years.

“Faith influences my volleyball career more than anything else because I know without it I would not be where I am today. God has given me the gift of being an athlete so I make it a focal point in my life not to waste every opportunity to use it. He gives me the ability to be mentally and physically strong. God gets me through every battle.”

Molly Phillips

Photo Courtesy of Texas Athletics
Texas has also been bolstered by the play of veteran leader, Molly Phillips. A Second Team All Big 12 player in 2021, Molly also says that faith has been a major guiding force throughout her career in volleyball.

“Faith has always been at the forefront of my life, and it has helped me tremendously throughout my volleyball career.”

Molly says that being grounded regardless of circumstances has been pivotal throughout her journey.

“I have learned that faith is truly the only way to accomplish your biggest goals and succeed at the highest level. Within a long season, there are many times when I have to fall back on my faith to get me through difficult situations, but the sweetest of feelings is falling back on my faith when things are going great.”

As Molly prepares for the rest of the season, she will continue to be a leader for the team as they look to bring home a National Championship.

Madi Skinner

Photo Courtesy of Texas Athletics
One of the most impactful players for the Longhorns in the 2022 season has been Kentucky transfer Madi Skinner. A former star for the Wildcats, Madisen helped lead Kentucky to a national championship in the 2021-21 season. Now looking to help the Longhorns to a national title of their own, she too credits God for being the source of her joy and fulfillment in her life.

“My faith has always been the biggest and most constant aspect of my life.”

One of the most humble athletes you will meet, Madisen says the chance to play at the highest level is only an opportunity to point others to Him.

“The wins and high points in my career are nothing but gifts from Him. Volleyball allows me to point others to Him and give Him glory.”

DeAndra Pierce

Photo Courtesy of Texas Athletics
Austin native DeAndra Pierce fulfilled a lifelong dream when she committed to play for the Longhorns out of high school. A star at Austin High School, the sophomore middle blocker says that faith has been key for her throughout her life on and off the court. Having grown up in the church, DeAndra says that faith continues through today as it helps guide her every move.

“Faith is the foundation of why I play in the first place. It allows me to believe that I am playing for something much bigger on the court. When I feel discouraged and ready to give up I always rely on my faith and God reminds me that this is the path I am supposed to be on.”

DeAndra hopes that her time around the game can inspire young girls to also play for something bigger than themselves.

“I hope to inspire younger girls that they can achieve anything if they work hard and trust in God!”

With the season only just beginning and a Big 12 schedule now ahead of them, the Longhorns know that every team will be giving their all to try and pull off an upset. As they face each match, The Longhorns remain united in one another and with a deep bond that cannot be broken. Guided by players like Emma, Molly, Madisen, and DeAndra, the Longhorns look to finish the year with a championship in hand and the chance to inspire athletes and fans alike across the country. Above all, these athletes say that they hope to always play for something bigger than themselves.


Ethan Kruse

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