Nwanebu shines as Texas sweeps Iowa State

Justin Martinez

At last, the Longhorns could finally see the finish line.

After traveling 900 miles and playing two matches in six days, No. 5 Texas returned to the 40 Acres on Saturday to close out its hectic week, sweeping No. 23 Iowa State, 3-0.

There were no signs of fatigue from the Longhorns as they jumped out to a 13-8 run in the first set, sparked by three kills off the hand of senior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu. Texas kept its foot on the gas, securing the 25-16 win.

Set two saw little change as the Cyclone offense struggled to muster a run of its own. Senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu dominated the front lines, recording two blocks in the set and holding Iowa State to a hitting percentage of just .067.

Nwanebu continued her strong outing, tacking on another five kills to her total as the Longhorns claimed the second set, 25-17.

“We did what we were supposed to from the scouting report,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We were playing really good defense behind the block and were scoring at a high level.”

Iowa State found its rhythm in the third set, though, bursting out of the gate for a quick 4-0 lead and forcing Texas to burn a timeout.

“I think the atmosphere on the court wasn’t as high as it was in the first two sets,” Nwanebu said. “We kind of let up and they got up on us. As a team, we decided to turn it around, started going hard like we did the first two sets.”

Elliott’s timeout worked. Texas came out of the huddle with a renewed intensity, stringing together a 12-5 run thanks to a trio of kills from freshman outside hitter Lexi Sun.

Iowa State had no answer for the hyped-up Longhorns, nor the 4,000 screaming fans at Gregory Gymnasium. At the end of the third frame, Texas sealed the 25-18 victory to complete the sweep.

Nwanebu finished with a season-high 11 kills in the win, and sophomore outside hitter Micaya White totaled a team-high 14 digs.

The Longhorns (14-2, 6-0) appear to be clicking on all cylinders as of late, building an eight-game win streak with the postseason now just over one month away.

“It just seems that we are playing better for longer periods of time and learning to concentrate for longer periods of time,” Elliott said. “It was a really nice job for our team tonight.”

The Longhorns can now enjoy a breather, as they’ll have three days off before their next match. Texas will next head to Lubbock for a Wednesday night tilt with Texas Tech, with first serve slated for 6:00 p.m.