Texas volleyball players celebrate a score against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Gregory Gym on Sept. 7, 2017. UT went 24-2 in the regular season. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Volleyball

Unbeaten in Big 12 play, Texas now awaits its NCAA fate

Posted November 25th, 2017

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WACO — Members of Texas’ volleyball team are about to find out how long 28 hours is.

Showcasing some resilience, Texas got double-digit kills from four players in a 27-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-19 win at Baylor’s Ferrell Center on Saturday. The regular-season finale ended around 4 p.m., which set Texas (24-2) up for a lengthy wait before the NCAA tournament’s selection show at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

“I guess it’s all up in the unknown right now,” Texas freshman Lexi Sun said. “We’ll see tomorrow. I’m excited to see where we stand, who we get to play and how it all turns out.”

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Baylor jetted out to 4-0 and 11-2 leads in the opening set before Texas rallied to a two-point win, fighting off a set point along the way. After Baylor tied the match, Texas dug itself out of a five-point hole in the third set.

Texas blew past the Bears in the fourth frame, and 5-5 sophomore Autumn Rounsaville’s first collegiate kill gave the Longhorns an 8-0 lead. Baylor hung around on the scoreboard, but Texas closed out the match with a 4-0 run.

Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott speaks with freshman setter Ashley Shook (9) during an intrasquad scrimmage at Gregory Gym on Aug. 19, 2017. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Sun registered 13 kills, as did seniors Ebony Nwanebu and Chiaka Ogbogu. Sophomore Micaya White added 10 kills and 15 digs.

Texas also got 47 assists during a shaky performance from freshman Ashley Shook, who UT head coach Jerritt Elliott pulled during the third set. Sophomore Riley Fisbeck quarterbacked a short scoring spurt before Texas turned back to Shook, a three-time Big 12 freshman of the week.

“It was the first time she’s been in a stressful situation for a while,” Elliot said. “This wasn’t one of her better matches, but I think you don’t want to have perfect matches every single night. For her to learn from this and go back and watch some film and see where her mind is at is important.”

Saturday’s victory was Texas’ 18th straight, and the Longhorns won all 16 of their Big 12 matches. Texas has been ranked second in the last two AVCA polls — UT is third in the RPI rankings — and the Longhorns’ only losses were to No. 3 Florida and No. 8 Minnesota.

UT, though, was ranked seventh on Nov. 1 when the committee that seeds the NCAA’s tournament released its first and only ranking of the year.  Heading into this weekend, three of the teams listed ahead of Texas had not lost since those rankings were released. No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 Kentucky had been beaten once.

Texas is eyeing one of the four No. 1 seeds, which would conceivably let UT host postseason matches at Gregory Gym until the Final Four.

“We’ll see what the committee decides and how they evaluate things,” Elliott said. “It’s probably one of the tougher years for that to happen, but we feel like we deserve (a No. 1 seed) and we think we have a very good argument.”

Baylor (23-6) was led by freshman Yossiana Pressley’s 23 kills. The Bears are ranked 18th in the AVCA poll.

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