Seniors Morgan Johnson and Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani both started their careers for Texas with a win over Rice way back in August of 2015. Since then, both have contributed to three Big 12 Championships and have been leaders on the court.
Saturday both played in their final games as Longhorns, with the team sweeping West Virginia in three sets (25-11, 25-22, 25-18) in a proper send off on Senior Day.
Then-No. 5 Texas completed its regular season with a record of 20–4, including an impressive 15–1 record against Big 12 opponents. The team also won all but one game at home this season.
“We’re so used to playing Gregory,” outside hitter Bedart-Ghani said. “Whatever swings we take you just have this feeling of comfort. You know the court, and you know the atmosphere.”
Bedart-Ghani and Johnson led the team to sweep the Mountaineers before being recognized for their careers at the University of Texas. The duo both hit over .700 in the match.
Bedart-Ghani collected thirteen kills, adding two blocks along the way. Middle blocker Johnson had nine kills of her own, and neither player suffered any errors during the match.
“This afternoon felt really good,” Bedart-Ghani said. “It felt like everyone was really happy on the court, and you start to feed off of that mind-set. That was the biggest thing today.”
While the day was mostly a celebration of the seniors, the youth of the team continued to make an impact, with several familiar faces gracing the box score.
Outside hitter Logan Eggleston finished with four kills and two digs, while libero Sydney Petersen led the team with seven digs.
Setter Jhenna Gabriel had an impressive outing, collecting another start after starting the season on the bench. Gabriel finished the match with 41 assists, five digs and four blocks. This was the fourth straight match Gabriel had over 40 assists.
“What Jhenna’s displaying right now is what we saw in club,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “She was a late recruit, and she wasn’t very highly recruited until we started talking to her a little bit more and opened everybody’s eyes. She has had more than a little bit of a swagger since club volleyball, so I am trying to encourage her to get comfortable here in the bright lights.”
The Longhorns have relied on both the upperclassmen and the freshman to get to this point. The future is very bright with the talent this team boasts both in terms of youth and leadership.
“They are all really good kids and they all play at a very high level,” Elliott said. “They don’t play like freshmen.”
Texas is an automatic qualifier for the 2018 NCAA Tournament by virtue of their Big 12 Conference Championship. The Longhorns will discover whether or not they have done enough to earn a top-four seed this Sunday November 25th at 7:30 p.m.
Regardless of whether the team achieves a top seed or not, the Longhorns look to deal serious damage once the NCAA tournament begins.