Longhorns beat Oregon in four sets to start VERT Challenge

Steve Helwick

The No. 2 Longhorns picked up where they left off in 2015.

The team finished 32-4 and won the Big 12 before falling to Nebraska in the title game last year. And despite losing critical seniors Molly McCage and Kat Brooks — along with senior Chiaka Ogbogu — Texas returned to form in its season opener against Oregon at the VERT Challenge in Eugene, Oregon.

In the 3-1 victory, Texas claimed the first two sets definitively over the hosting Oregon Ducks. Junior Ebony Nwanebu, senior Paulina Prieto Cerame and freshman Micaya White combined for 50 kills as outside hitters. Nwanebu recorded a team-high 20 kills in just her second game as Longhorn.

Senior setter Chloe Collins recorded a game-high 42 assists, 79 percent of the team’s total, in the victory. Junior libero Cat McCoy also packed the stat sheet for the Longhorns, totaling 16 digs and four assists in the four sets.

Texas started off sets strong — the team won all three sets when scoring the first point. In the first set, two distinct 6-0 runs ignited the Longhorns to a 25-17 victory. The game of Longhorn runs continued throughout the match, as Texas scored at least four consecutive points on five separate occasions.

The momentum slightly shifted in the third set when Oregon strung multiple kills together to jump out to a 3-1 lead. Although Texas roared back and tied it up at 13, they could not complete the sweep and fell to the Ducks 25-19 in the penultimate set.

Despite falling in the third set, the Longhorns reverted to their success after the intermission. They doubled their hit percentage in the final set and Longhorns exited Oregon’s arena with a 1-0 record.

Texas has little time to rest after the season-opening win. The Longhorns return to action in the VERT Challenge Saturday evening against No. 1 Nebraska in a rematch of the 2015 National Championship.