There will be plenty on the line Sunday when the second-ranked Texas volleyball team squares off against No. 12 Nebraska at Gregory Gym, but there also will be something missing from previous matchups between the two.
The last time the two teams played, both were members of the Big 12 Conference, and the Cornhuskers were the closest thing to a sure thing in volleyball, having won league championships in all but three seasons from 1996-2010 and having captured the national title in 2006.
Nebraska leads the series against Texas 30-17, but the Longhorns have won four of the past five matches, including their last meeting on Oct. 27, 2010, in Austin.
Texas (5-2) continues to rotate players into the action during its pre-conference schedule. Last week, freshman middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu made the most of her opportunities in the Horns’ five-set win against Illinois, recording nine kills and six block-assists.
“I have grown up watching Texas and Nebraska play each other so it will be exciting to be a part of it,” Ogbogu said. “We know they are young and a little inexperienced, but we have to stay to the things we do well and be aggressive and smart.”
Longhorns coach Jerritt Elliott said Ogbogu’s play, like that of sophomore Amy Neal and freshmen Chloe Collins and Pilar Victoria in earlier matches, is a result of each player’s hard work in the gym.
“We are still learning about our team and continue to work and play with different lineups and Chiaka is part of that,” Elliott said. “We now know a little more about what we can and cannot do. We want to compete at the highest level, and we believe in playing a schedule of the toughest teams for us to be ready to be the best when it’s most important to be.”
Elliott said he expected a large, vocal crowd to again give the Horns a home-court advantage on Sunday, much as it did in Texas’ earlier wins against Penn State and Stanford.
“This will be our third sellout this season, and the crowd is a big part of our success,” Elliott said. “We are looking forward to having Nebraska in our home gym and restarting that rivalry. They have a rich tradition and are one of the best programs in the country. They’ve younger, but they are very talented, and they are in the mix for getting to the Final Four.”
Notes: Only three current Texas players have faced Nebraska: Hannah Allison, Sarah Palmer and Bailey Webster. Webster was a freshman on UT’s squad that swept Nebraska during Big 12 Conference play in 2009 while Allison, Palmer and Webster faced the Huskers in 2010 during Nebraska’s final season in the Big 12. … Allison is poised to become the eighth player in Texas history to eclipse 3,000 assists. She has notched 2,988 assists since her freshman year in 2010 and would become the first Longhorn to surpass 3,000 career assists since UT’s career leader, Michelle Moriarty, who piled up 5,819 assists from 2004-07, did it. … With a 3-2 win over No. 14 Illinois last weekend at the Illini Classic, Elliott earned his 300th victory at Texas in his 13th season. He also picked up the 350th win of his career. In 15 seasons, Elliott, has an all-time record of 350-93 (.790).