The sequel is rarely as good as the original, but Wednesday’s match was exactly the case in the latest chapter of the Texas-Kansas rivalry.
The Big 12 powerhouses duked it out in a five-set thriller on Oct. 11 in Lawrence, Kansas. After falling behind 2-1, Texas exploded for a pair of set wins to complete the comeback and escape with a 3-2 victory.
The Longhorns repeated the same magic on Wednesday night at Gregory Gym, sweeping the Jayhawks, 3-0.
Texas could do no wrong in the early moments of the first set. The Longhorns fed off the energy of the home crowd, dominating the Jayhawks and claiming a commanding 19-13 lead. Then came the hard part. Kansas came alive with its back against the wall, igniting a 10-4 run to tie the score at 23.
But the Longhorns didn’t waver. Senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu soared towards the net, locked in on a lob pass off the fingers of freshman setter Ashley Shook.
Ogbogu cocked her hand back and unleashed a powerful kill toward the left corner, dropping just outside the reach of the Kansas defenders and bringing Texas to set point. A Kansas error on the following play sealed the deal, giving the Longhorns a statement 25-23 win.
“I feel like we were in control for most of game one,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We just made some errors and let them back in the game, but we found way.”
The sequel reached its climax in the second set as the two teams battled for higher ground. Kansas silenced the crowd by taking a 20-19 lead down the stretch, but Ogbogu delivered with yet another response.
The Coppell native posted six kills in the set, including a momentum-shifting bullet down the middle to give Texas a 22-20 lead. The Longhorns didn’t look back, finishing the rally for a 25-22 victory.
“We did a really good job this game of just looking each other in the eye and making sure we had each other’s back,” Ogbogu said. “Giving each other confidence helped others, and it helped me as well.”
The Jayhawks reached their breaking point in the third set, crumbling as the Longhorns erupted for an early 18-11 lead. With the crowd on its feet, Texas went for the kill, storming to a 25-16 win to complete the sweep.
Ogbogu led the team with a game-high 14 kills in the outing, and senior libero Cat McCoy tallied a team-high 17 digs as well. The victory clinches at least a share of the Big 12 title for Texas, an accomplishment that eluded them last season.
“Not winning it last year was obviously disappointing,” McCoy said. “This conference gets better every single year, so for us to at least win a share of (the championship) says a lot about this team.”
Next up for the Longhorns is a home match against Oklahoma on Nov. 22. First serve from Gregory Gym is set at 7 p.m.