When Texas and Kentucky meet Saturday night for the NCAA Division I national volleyball championship, Molly Phillips will see one her closest friends on the other side of the net in a different uniform.
Phillips is a sophomore for the Texas Longhorns.
Azhani Tealer is a sophomore for the Kentucky Wildcats.
They just so happen to both wear No. 15.
UT (27-1) plays Kentucky (23-1) at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 from Omaha, Neb. The Longhorns are playing in their first volleyball championship since 2016. They’ve won two titles (2012, 1988).
It will be Kentucky’s first appearance. The Wildcats are looking to become the first SEC school to win a NCAA volleyball championship.
While Phillips and Tealer will share the court Saturday, it won’t be the first time. The two volleyball stars have been friends since their high school days. Phillips graduated from Mansfield in 2019. Tealer graduated from South Grand Prairie the same year.
Mansfield and SGP were locked up in the same district during their senior season in 2018.
Phillips was named Star-Telegram all-area player of the year after producing 768 kills, 63 aces, 62 blocks and 479 digs. Tealer recorded over 300 kills and a 0.336 hitting percentage while being named to the Dallas Morning News all-area team.
But their relationship goes beyond high school as Phillips and Tealer both played for the club organization Texas Image, one of the top teams in the country.
They even participated on the USA national team as seniors.
Both players are having great seasons. Tealer has registered 206 kills, a 0.447 hitting percentage and 94 total blocks. Phillips has put in 143 kills, a 0.345 hitting percentage and 84 total blocks.
So you know there will be some friendly trash talk at the net.
Let’s see who blocks the other’s shot first.
Mansfield Lake Ridge’s Madison Williams and Southlake Carroll’s Asjia O’Neal also play for the Longhorns. The Wildcats don’t have any other players from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but they do have a total of four from Texas.