13 Dec

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Preview: Texas Plays in NCAA Regional Championship

Texas Volleyball player Chiaka Obogu hits against A&M. (Photo: Jesse Drohen)

Against Texas A&M in the second round, freshmen Chiaka Ogbogu had five kills (Photo: Jesse Drohen).

The No. 1 Longhorns continue their run toward the NCAA Final and a second-straight National Championship as they compete in the Regional Championship against American University in Lincoln Nebraska on Friday night. With a win over the Eagles the Longhorns would face the winner of San Diego vs. Nebraska.

Entering this match No.1  Texas (25-2, 16-0 Big 12) has won 21 straight matches, and has not lost a match since it fell to Arizona State in a 3-0 sweep on Sept. 13 -- 91 days ago. The Longhorns advanced to the Regional Round by defeating Texas State and Texas A&M in the first and second rounds.

All-Americans Haley Eckerman and Bailey Webster lead the Longhorns offensively, the pair averages 4.18 and 3.46 kills per set respectively. The Big 12 named Eckerman the Big-12 player of the year. The Longhorns returned all but one player from last year's starting roster and have continued to add to the depth of this season. Freshman Chiaka Ogbogu has played one of the largest roles of the newcomers and recently earned honors as the All-Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Ogbogu has had .390 hitting percentage on the season and had five blocks against Texas A&M. In all the Longhorns landed five players on the All-Big 12 first team, Eckerman, Ogbogu, Khat Bell, Molly McCage and Bailey Webster.

The Eagles (34-2, 15-1 Patriot) advanced to this Regional match with the Longhorns by winning matches against Georgia and No. 16 seed Duke in the first and second round respectively. This will represent the first time American and Texas have met on the volleyball court in the two programs histories.

With a win on Friday night, the Longhorns would most likely face No. 8 seed Nebraska. Texas and Nebraska (25-6, 16-4 Big Ten) have met 48 times with the Huskers holding a 30-18 lead in the series. The two team met most recently at Gregory Gym in Austin in a match that played out as a five-set thriller, with Texas taking the eventual 3-2 match win with a 15-12 win in the fifth set.

A win in the Regional Final would propel Texas to the NCAA Finals in Seattle Washington Dec. 19 and 21 at Key Arena.

Friday's game will be broadcast online via ESPN3.com the match starts at 5:05 p.m. central time. Saturday's Regional final will start at 8 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

 

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.