Ebony Nwanebu

Photo Credit: Brooke Crim | Daily Texan Staff

After earning a victory on senior day against Oklahoma on Wednesday, the Longhorns took to the road for their season finale on Saturday afternoon, facing off against No. 18 Baylor in Waco.

Texas stole the show on the Bears’ senior day festivities, ending the regular season in style with a four-set victory.

Baylor opened the floodgates early, starting off the first set with an 11-2 advantage. However, the Longhorns stayed the course and came back to take the set 27-25.

Two of Texas’ seniors, Chiaka Ogbogu and Ebony Nwanebu, played a big part in mounting the comeback. The duo combined for 26 kills over the course of the match.

“I think the majority of the time we were trying to play catch up,” senior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu said. “I’m really proud of how we came back and kept pushing.”

The second set saw Baylor go neck-and-neck with Texas through the majority of the set. With both teams deadlocked at 20, the Bears strung together a 5-1 run to close the set out.

The Longhorns once again played a close third set, playing to a tie game at 21. They followed that with a 4-2 run to close out the set, topped of by a pre-serve error that gave Texas the set.

The fourth set saw the scales tip heavily in favor of the Longhorns, as they opened the floodgates with a 8-0 run and never looked back to claim the match.

“We set the tone for how we wanted to finish it,” Nwanebu said. “I think we executed that very well.”

This game saw Texas notch four players with double-digit kills, emphasizing a strong team effort in defeating a top-25 team on the road. At the end of the afternoon, the Longhorns were outright Big-12 champs.

Apart from the numbers, it was the point-at-a-time mentality that powered Texas through to the finish line. With a stout senior leadership core, the younger players always have someone to turn to in the huddle after each point.

“I’m really proud of Chiaka (Ogbogu),” Nwanebu said. “She told us that we were going to win, and if she saw someone’s face drop, she made sure that it changed.”

With the regular season wrapped up, Texas will take a 18-game win streak into the postseason, being one of two teams in the country with a perfect conference record.

Texas’ postseason positioning is up to the NCAA selection committee, who will determine whether or not Texas and Gregory Gym will host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Despite only two losses on the season, there is still a question mark surrounding the Longhorns’ seeding among coaches and players alike.

“Hopefully we get to host, but you never know,” Nwanebu said. “We’re always prepared for anything.”

The Longhorns won’t have to play the waiting game for long. The NCAA Tournament selection show is slated to set up the bracket at 8 p.m. on Sunday before tournament action kicks off on Nov. 30.

Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns hoisted the Big 12 title trophy on Wednesday night the same way they earned it: together.

Texas was crowned the king of the conference in front of a sold-out crowd at Gregory Gym, sweeping the rivaled Sooners to claim sole possession of the Big 12 title.

In a match that was also senior night for Texas, the Longhorns’ four-year veterans lead the way with a noticeable exuberance.

Senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu proved to be the difference in the first set despite the Sooners claiming an early 7-5 lead. The Coppell native worked to right the ship, posting three key kills.

Ogbogu also contributed two blocks, including a big-time rejection to earn the final point and give Texas a commanding 25-13 victory.

The second set was controlled by senior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu. The Fairview native routinely gave Oklahoma a healthy dosage of laser shots down the middle of the defense, recording three kills and committing zero errors in the process.

The Sooners couldn’t match Texas’ firepower, surrendering a 25-15 victory to the Longhorns to give the burnt orange a commanding two-set lead.

The closeout set kicked off with a roar of applause from the Texas faithful as senior middle blocker Mirta Baselovic made her first in-game appearance of the season. It took just two plays for the senior to land a kill, sending the crowd into a frenzy while giving the Longhorns a 12-6 lead.

After the Sooners’ 10-4 run quieted the crowd, it was time for another senior to take the reigns. This time it was senior libero Cat McCoy, who kept her team composed while foiling the Oklahoma offense with six key digs down the stretch to prevent any further damage.

Texas capitalized on those extra opportunities, stringing together an 8-4 run to reach match point. Ogbogu finished it off, delivering a back-breaking kill to secure the win and the title.

Both Ogbogu and Nwanebu finished the outing with eight kills, and McCoy finished with a team-high 10 digs. The win also marks one of Texas’ more complete games, recording a season-best hitting percentage of .526 for the match.

“All year we’ve been saying don’t let up,” Nwanebu said. “I think tonight was that night that we didn’t. If you want to win a championship, you have to peak later (in the season), and I think tonight showed that we’re getting to that point.”

After the trophy was hoisted and the team donned its Big 12 championship t-shirts, the night ended with a short ceremony for Texas’ seniors. The crowd gave each player a round of applause as they were given a bouquet of flowers and their framed jerseys in what might prove to be their last time on the hardwood of Gregory Gym.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” Ogbogu said. “Obviously we still have more games to be played. That’s what’s making me not so emotional, but I know it’s going to hit me eventually.”

Texas still has work to do as it prepares for a road match against No. 18 Baylor on Saturday to close out the season. The Bears enter the match on a seven-game win streak highlighted by a 3-0 sweep over No. 14 Kansas on Nov. 11.

A win would solidify Texas’ bid to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament beginning No. 30, ensuring an additional set of matches at home.

“Baylor is scary,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “Every coach dreams of being in the position to be able to host at the end of the season, and that’s where we are right now. We just have to go out and execute and be ready.”