Texas sweeps Oklahoma to win fifth-straight Big 12 Championship

Claire Cruz

Editor's note: This article has been updated since its original publication to include the Longhrons' seed in the 2015 NCAA championship tournament.

The Tower glowed orange for No. 3 Texas on Sunday night when the Longhorns received the third overall seed in postseason play. Texas will host Fairfield on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA championship tournament after earning its fifth consecutive conference title. 

Texas clinched the Big 12 with a 3-0 road victory over Oklahoma on Friday.

The Longhorns earned at least a share of the conference title by defeating Kansas State last week and  secured the title outright with a 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 win over Oklahoma. Texas cruised past its rival in the regular season finale, outhitting the Sooners .367 to .173.

“The goal has been winning the Big 12,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “But their ultimate goal is the [NCAA] tournament. Our program right now is at that level.”

Texas looked tournament-ready in the match against the Sooners. Oklahoma played hard early in Set 1, but the Longhorns persisted and pulled away behind a multitude of blocks. Texas recorded 6.5 blocks in the set, led by freshman outside hitter Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani’s five blocks. Oklahoma tallied five blocks of its own in the set, but Texas’ offense won out. Junior outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame tallied six kills to power the Longhorns’ win after 17 ties and five lead changes.

Both teams’ offenses took the spotlight in Set 2. Oklahoma jumped to an early lead behind strategic tips, but Prieto Cerame sparked a Texas comeback. The Sooners put together a scoring run halfway through the set cut short by an Elliott challenge. After the head coach argued a touch-call, the officials reversed the call in Texas’ favor. The Longhorns took control from there, going on a 10-4 run to win the set. 

Senior outside hitter Amy Neal stole the momentum with a service ace and big swings. The Longhorns emerged from intermission and immediately took control of Set 3. They jumped out to an early 7-2 lead and fended off Sooner scoring runs to clinch the match. Texas’ blockers, led by Bedart-Ghani and junior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu, finished the match with 9.5 blocks. Bedart-Ghani notched a career-high seven blocks in the match. Prieto Cerame and Neal tallied five kills each to lead Texas’ offense in the final set, bringing their totals to 21 and 15, respectively.

“The players have been committed all season,” Elliott said. “Our team has played as a unit. They feed well off one another and have a lot of pride as a group.”

The Longhorns finished the regular season 25-2, 15-1 Big 12. Texas faces Fairfield in Round 1 at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Gregory Gym. Should the Longhorns advance, they play the winner of SMU and Purdue in Round 2.