Junior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu never liked individual sports. Instead, she gravitated towards the companionship of playing on a team.
“When you’re on a team it’s like you have another family who supports you and loves you,” Nwanebu said. “I love that aspect of it.”
Coming out of Lovejoy High School in Lucas, Texas, Nwanebu took her talents to a new home in California to play for USC. She immediately made an impact for the Trojans, becoming the only Pac-12 freshman to rank in the top 10 in hitting percentage. She averaged 3.47 kills per set with a 0.358 hitting percentage.
Nwanebu spent the following summer traveling with the USA Volleyball Collegiate National team in China. Nwanebu helped the U.S. Senior National team earn a silver medal at the Montreux Volley Masters in Switzerland.
But even with an accomplished resume early in her collegiate career, the Texan never found the “family” environment she was looking for at USC. She steadily grew homesick and decided to transfer back to her home state.
“I wanted to be closer to home so my family [could] see play in person more often,” Nwanebu said.
The transfer process was not easy; Nwanebu was forced to go through an appeals process to change schools. She had to answer questions from University officials, athletic directors and coaches before she could transfer.
“She [had to] go in front of a committee that is not only athletics, it’s more the general university executives, so they can hear her case on why she’s leaving,” head coach Jerritt
Nwanebu won her appeal and joined the Longhorns last season after a year of sitting out due to NCAA rules. However, a back injury forced her to miss most of the season again as a sophomore.
Now finally healthy and fully integrated with the team, she finds herself at home with the Longhorns.
“We’re all with each other 24/7, so I consider everyone my best friend on this team,” Nwanebu said, “We take naps together, we go eat together and that’s basically all we have
Nwanebu is already starting to make her mark with the Longhorns. Through six games, Nwanebu has racked up 96 kills with a 0.357 hitting percentage, proving herself as one of the top hitters on the team.
Elliott said he’s thrilled Nwanebu is finally on the court. He said he sees big contributions from the junior this season.
“I think she’s at a comfortable level emotionally after being here for a year and understanding our system,” Elliott said. “Her role is to take a lot of swings and score for us.”