Texas volleyball to play Oregon for national championship tonight

Rachel Thompson

In 1984, Texas swept Oregon in Berkeley, California, to continue on and win the AIAW Championship.  Four years later, the Longhorns would become national champions.

Now, both teams are pitted against one another for the first time since 1984, this time holding the prospect of a national championship in their taped hands.  No. 3 Texas emerged out of a five-set win against Michigan, rallying from a 2-1 deficit to dominate the second two matches and claim a win. 

Oregon overwhelmed No. 1 Penn State on Thursday to pull off a win over the Nittany Lions, whose volleyball resume includes five NCAA titles and nine final four appearances.  The Ducks, on the other hand, had never advanced to an NCAA semifinal.

The Longhorns are no strangers to post-season success.  The Longhorns have advanced to eight NCAA Final Four tournaments, most recently in 2010.  With fiery performances from Bailey Webster, Haley Eckerman and Khat Bell, Texas is preparing itself for aggressive play in its final tournament of the season.

Head coach Jerritt Elliott also has plenty to be proud of.  His Longhorns have earned five conferences titles in the past six years.

“We’re just excited to have this opportunity again to be in the finals and represent the University of Texas and play for a national championship,” he said.

The team’s lone senior, utility Sha’Dare McNeal, said winning a national championship would polish of a great final season for her.

“This being my senior year, it would mean everything to me,” she said.  “Being here for the third time and not being able to finish it off with a title has been kind of devastating to me.  Winning my senior year would be awesome.”

Watch the game at 7 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2. Follow @texansports on Twitter, and listen to free internet audio at texassports.com.