No. 2 Longhorns fall to Cornhuskers 3-0

Steve Helwick

It was déjà vu for the No. 2 Longhorns on the team’s opening weekend.

After defeating Oregon 3-1 in the season opener Friday night , Texas (1-1) was swept by No. 1 Nebraska (2-0) Saturday at the VERT Challenge in Eugene, Oregon.

The Longhorns fell to the Cornhuskers 3-0, the same discouraging score as the title game last December.

“[It] was a truly disappointing way to perform,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “There was no flow at all in that entire match.”

Nebraska fired out of the gate with a 3-0 run to control the first set. The Longhorns quickly fell into a hole they were unable to escape, falling 25-15. 

Despite winning the first point of the second set, the Longhorns again fell into an early hole and lost the set, 25-16. Texas only led by as much as three points throughout the entire match.

Texas held a tighter grip in the final game, but Nebraska generated an 8-4 run to conclude the match and thwart the Longhorns’ attempt to avenge December’s loss.

“We were all over the place in every aspect,” Elliott said. “We had the kills, but we were chasing them all over the court.”

Nebraska dominated the lopsided box score from start to finish. Texas’ .140 hit percentage paled in comparison to the Cornhuskers’ .304, and Nebraska won the assists battle 42-31. Junior setter Kelly Hunter led the way for Nebraska with 40 assists.

But Nebraska’s dominance in serving efficiency made the biggest difference. The Cornhuskers won points on seven aces while holding the Longhorns to zero.

“We were over-thinking things,” Elliott said. “We weren’t playing the way we were supposed to play.”

Junior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu’s performance came as a bright spot in an otherwise dismal performance. The Preseason All-Big 12 honoree earned team-highs in kills and blocks with 13 and
three, respectively.

“We want to give [Nwanebu] the ball more,” Elliot said. “It wasn’t part of our game plan to tip. We need to get her a lot of balls, but our passing wasn’t good enough to do that.”

Nwanebu also stood out for Texas in the team’s match against Oregon on Friday. She recorded 20 kills and 13 digs in the four-set victory over the Ducks. Junior libero Cat McCoy and freshman libero Autumn Rounsaville contributed to a strong defensive effort, notching 16 and 11 digs, respectively. The Longhorns limited the Ducks to under 20 points in all three set victories.

Unlike the Nebraska match, Texas was able to utilize a series of runs to stifle Oregon’s momentum. Five distinct 4-0 runs were posted by the Longhorns en route to their first victory of
the season.

For the second consecutive year, the Longhorns split the VERT Challenge with a 1-1 record. They return to Austin to face Lipscomb and UTSA at the American Campus Classic on Thursday.