Texas senior Chiaka Ogbogu (21) celebrates a point against Kansas on Nov. 15, 2017. Texas will host Fairfield in the first round of the NCAA tournament. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Volleyball

Texas to open at home, but UT’s road to the Final Four goes through Stanford

Posted November 26th, 2017

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No. 2 will be a No. 2.

The second-ranked team in the AVCA poll, Texas earned a second seed from the NCAA tournament’s selection committee on Sunday. Given the sixth overall ranking, The Longhorns (24-2) were placed in Stanford’s quadrant of the 64-team bracket.

Texas will open its tournament run with a home match against Fairfield (25-6) on Friday. A victorious UT team would then host either Oregon State (21-11) or North Carolina State (20-11) the following day. If Texas and Stanford both take care of business, Texas must travel to Stanford for the third and fourth rounds.

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Stanford beat Texas in the NCAA’s 2016 championship match.

“Obviously, it’s a little disappointing to know that we weren’t a top four seed,” senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu said. “At the end of the day, there is nothing else you can do. We’re going to accept the fact that (these are) the cards that were dealt for us and we’re just focused on Fairfield right now.”

The top-ranked team in the AVCA’s preseason poll, the Longhorns were upended by Florida in their season-opener. Texas has won 18 straight matches since it was beaten by Minnesota – then the AVCA’s top team – on Sept. 8.

Texas went 16-0 in the Big 12, a conference that qualified four teams for the NCAA tournament. (The Longhorns were given a tower-lighting ceremony for the conference championship before the NCAA’s selection show on Sunday). Texas also knocked off the postseason-bound Oregon, San Diego and Denver this year.

“We’ve got a really good team,” UT coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We know that we have a very good team, we know that we can compete with anybody in the country. Now it’s about one match at a time.”

Texas will be led into the postseason by Ogbogu, a three-time All-American middle blocker who is among the national leaders in blocks (1.74 per set) and hitting percentage (.389). Ogbogu sat out last season so she was not on UT’s runner-up roster. Texas also added the services of freshmen Lexi Sun and Ashley Shook, who respectively lead the Longhorns in kills (3.44 per set) and assists (10.8 per set).

Sophomore Micaya White is contributing 3.4 killer per set. Libero Cat McCoy, the school’s all-time leader in digs, is averaging 4.4 digs per set.

Texas is attempting to reach the Final Four for the sixth straight season. This year’s Final Four will be held in Kansas City.

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