Texas volleyball sweeps competition in home opener

Justin Martinez

There are few things you can consistently count on in Austin: hot weather, good barbecue and some great Texas volleyball.

After five straight road matches to start the season, the No. 5 Longhorns returned to their beloved 40 Acres on Thursday to host the American Campus Classic.

The burnt orange kicked off their doubleheader with a noon match against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Freshman outside hitter Lexi Sun shined in her home debut, recording five kills in the first set as the Longhorns claimed a convincing 25-3 win.

“(Sun) showed some really good composure,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “She played well in all facets of the game. Her serves were solid, her blocking was great and she just produced.”

The tides looked to be changing for the Islanders in the second set, though, as the team capitalized on a pair of Longhorn errors to force a 10-10 tie. 

But Texas squashed any hopes of a comeback, imposing its will from that point on. Sun finished off the set with a bullet of a spike down the line, securing the 25-15 victory and giving Texas a commanding 2-0 lead. 

The Longhorns kept their foot on the gas in the closeout set, finishing off Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with a 25-20 win to give them the 3-0 sweep.

Senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu looked sharp in her first home match since 2015, tallying 10 kills with a team-high attack percentage of .714.

“It was just nice being home today and having our fans behind us,” Ogbogu said. “Our fan base is very engaged, and it helps us carry the momentum into each set.”

Texas faced a short turnaround as the team shifted its focus to the night match against the University of Denver. 

Both squads struggled to create any separation in the first set until Ogbogu ignited the offense, recording three kills and two blocks to earn the 25-19 victory.

“Denver is a really scrappy team,” Sun said. “We knew we couldn’t take them lightly because they run a really fast offense. It was really important for us not to take any plays off.”

Denver kept fighting in the second set, rallying to tie the score at 23. And once again, Ogbogu came through. The senior scored the final two points to give the Longhorns a 2-0 series lead.

The Pioneers never recovered, and Texas completed the sweep with a 25-17 win in the third set. Ogbogu finished with 11 kills and 7 blocks on the night.

“We made sure to call some plays for (Ogbogu) late in the game,” Elliott said. “She was working hard, and she really produced for us in both matches.”

But Texas’ work is far from finished. The Longhorns must now prepare for their Friday matchup against the top team in the country in No. 1 Minnesota. 

“(Minnesota) is No. 1 for a reason,” Ogbogu said. “We expect to see a very disciplined team, but we’re just excited to play them and show them what we got.”