Fresh Out of Two Heart Surgeries, Asjia O’Neal Steals the Spotlight With ‘Ace’ Worthy Performance at NCAA Semis

Published 12/17/2023, 4:50 AM EST

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Asjia O’Neal is one of the mighty pillars of the Texas Longhorns Women’s Volleyball lineup. She plays the middle blocker position and is known for silencing the opposition with her blocks and service aces. Recently, she notched her game even further in the semifinals against the Wisconsin Badgers.

The Texas Longhorns won against the title favorites Wisconsin on 14 December in a four-set game. A social media post showcased one of the nifty service aces Asjia O’Neal hit against the Badgers. Interestingly, the Texas senior showed her A-game despite coming out of her second heart surgery.

Asjia O’Neal and her nimble performance after a sensitive procedure

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Texas Volleyball tweeted a video of the picture-perfect ace Asjia O’Neal hit against Wisconsin via its official X account. The tweet carried the caption, “ACE-jia O’Neal #HookEm.” O’Neal’s ace landed perfectly in an unreachable position on the other side of the court. Aces aren’t the only specialty of O’Neal, whose kills hit the floor 11 times in the semis.

The middle blocker also flaunted her defensive skills during the match and blocked four shots. While the Texas Longhorns star was flying high in every department, she wasn’t even half as athletic not too long ago. In fact, her heart condition made even running 15 minutes on the treadmill a laborious task.

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Asjia O’Neal congenitally suffered from a leak in the mitral valve of her heart. This leak forced her heart to pump extra hard for the same amount of output as a regular individual. The Texas Longhorns star went through surgery as a child to take care of the condition, but it resurfaced in 2019.

Doctors advised the Texas Longhorns middle blocker to bid goodbye to volleyball. However, Asjia O’Neal didn’t quit and went through another open-heart surgery in 2020. This was followed by several months of rehab after which she returned to the volleyball court. After hunting the heads of the Wisconsin Badgers, O’Neal now has her eyes on the Nebraska Huskers.

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Texas Longhorns and their historical threepeat against Nebraska

The Texas Longhorns and the Nebraska Huskers will be meeting each other in the finals for the third time in history. While the Longhorns are the defending champions, they could never overpower Nebraska in the finals. In fact, their latest scar is as fresh as 2015.

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What’s more pressing is the fact that the Nebraska Huskers are at their strongest in 2023, and have only fallen once. The Texas Longhorns will heavily rely on Asjia O’Neal and their team’s vanquisher, Madisen Skinner in the match. Will Texas be able to pierce through the mountain-like defense of Nebraska? Or will the Huskers march on with just one dent in 2023 and lift their sixth NCAA Volleyball Championship trophy?

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Written by:

Ankit Singh

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I am an avid sports enthusiast who always seeks the adrenaline that comes with fast-paced action in anything and everything. Being an active sportsperson in school who played many different sports, I have always loved having multiple options. At Essentially Sports, I bring my kick for adrenaline and my taste for variety as I write about various avenues of Olympics sports.
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Edited by:

Himanshu Sridhar