Longhorns sweep Sooners to stay perfect in the Big 12

Steve Helwick

Prior to its matchup with Oklahoma on Wednesday, Texas rolled through the entire Big 12 en route to an 8–0 start. The Longhorns overwhelmed opponents with their prowess up the middle and firepower on the outside, winning six matches in straight sets.

Wednesday night was no different for the burnt orange, as they beat Oklahoma 3-0 for the second time this season. The victory improved Texas’ record to 17–2, 9–0 Big 12.

“I’m really pleased with the things that we saw tonight,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “The defensive numbers were significantly better. If we can play that kind of defense, we can put a lot of pressure on teams.”

Texas utilized its height advantage at the net to record nine blocks. The Longhorns dominated Oklahoma up-front, recording seven more blocks than the Sooners. Oklahoma failed to block even one Texas kill attempt until late in the second set.

“Our blockers are doing a nice job,” Elliot said. “They’re getting in front of hitters, picking better spots and getting over, so we’re getting good touches. When we get good touches off the block, we’re transitioning into a high point.”

The Sooners outplayed the Longhorns at the beginning of set one, holding the lead until the 15th serve. And even after losing the lead, the Sooners remained close behind the play of Marion Hazelwood. The junior middle blocker posted six kills on nine attempts to keep Oklahoma within striking distance. 

But the blocking advantage ultimately paid dividends for Texas in the first set. Sophomore middle blocker Yaazie Bedart-Ghani continued her recent string of strong play in the opening frame, ending the set with a thunderous block up the middle. 

“Our numbers were good,” Elliott said. “I liked that we didn’t get rattled, we just stayed with it. We put ourselves in position to win.”

Junior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu followed Bedart-Ghani’s lead in the ensuing set. She closed out the Sooners with an impressive showing up the middle, slowing down the Sooner attack. Nwanebu recorded nine kills and two blocks on the night, finishing with a hitting percentage of .600 in the victory. 

Texas held a comfortable lead throughout the next two sets after claiming the first frame, leaning on Nwanebu and freshman outside hitter Micaya White. The Longhorns won the second and third set by a combined 16 points without a significant challenge from the Sooners.

White was the star of the match for Texas, totaling a team-high 14 kills to go along with nine digs. The Frisco native has started all 19 matches this year, averaging over four kills per set. She was once again integral to Texas’ success on Wednesday.

Texas will continue its second swing through conference play on Saturday as the team travels to Lawrence, Kansas, for a battle with the Jayhawks. With a victory, the Longhorns can start 10-0 in the Big 12 for the first time since 2013, when the team finished perfect in the conference. The match begins at 6:30 p.m..