Cat McCoy

Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns hoisted the Big 12 title trophy on Wednesday night the same way they earned it: together.

Texas was crowned the king of the conference in front of a sold-out crowd at Gregory Gym, sweeping the rivaled Sooners to claim sole possession of the Big 12 title.

In a match that was also senior night for Texas, the Longhorns’ four-year veterans lead the way with a noticeable exuberance.

Senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu proved to be the difference in the first set despite the Sooners claiming an early 7-5 lead. The Coppell native worked to right the ship, posting three key kills.

Ogbogu also contributed two blocks, including a big-time rejection to earn the final point and give Texas a commanding 25-13 victory.

The second set was controlled by senior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu. The Fairview native routinely gave Oklahoma a healthy dosage of laser shots down the middle of the defense, recording three kills and committing zero errors in the process.

The Sooners couldn’t match Texas’ firepower, surrendering a 25-15 victory to the Longhorns to give the burnt orange a commanding two-set lead.

The closeout set kicked off with a roar of applause from the Texas faithful as senior middle blocker Mirta Baselovic made her first in-game appearance of the season. It took just two plays for the senior to land a kill, sending the crowd into a frenzy while giving the Longhorns a 12-6 lead.

After the Sooners’ 10-4 run quieted the crowd, it was time for another senior to take the reigns. This time it was senior libero Cat McCoy, who kept her team composed while foiling the Oklahoma offense with six key digs down the stretch to prevent any further damage.

Texas capitalized on those extra opportunities, stringing together an 8-4 run to reach match point. Ogbogu finished it off, delivering a back-breaking kill to secure the win and the title.

Both Ogbogu and Nwanebu finished the outing with eight kills, and McCoy finished with a team-high 10 digs. The win also marks one of Texas’ more complete games, recording a season-best hitting percentage of .526 for the match.

“All year we’ve been saying don’t let up,” Nwanebu said. “I think tonight was that night that we didn’t. If you want to win a championship, you have to peak later (in the season), and I think tonight showed that we’re getting to that point.”

After the trophy was hoisted and the team donned its Big 12 championship t-shirts, the night ended with a short ceremony for Texas’ seniors. The crowd gave each player a round of applause as they were given a bouquet of flowers and their framed jerseys in what might prove to be their last time on the hardwood of Gregory Gym.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” Ogbogu said. “Obviously we still have more games to be played. That’s what’s making me not so emotional, but I know it’s going to hit me eventually.”

Texas still has work to do as it prepares for a road match against No. 18 Baylor on Saturday to close out the season. The Bears enter the match on a seven-game win streak highlighted by a 3-0 sweep over No. 14 Kansas on Nov. 11.

A win would solidify Texas’ bid to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament beginning No. 30, ensuring an additional set of matches at home.

“Baylor is scary,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “Every coach dreams of being in the position to be able to host at the end of the season, and that’s where we are right now. We just have to go out and execute and be ready.”

Photo Credit: Brooke Crim | Daily Texan Staff

It was the fifth exchange in the rally. The ball flew in between the two banners above Gregory Gym, and then promptly saved at the scorers’ table. 

An already-noisy crowd then almost blew the roof off of Gregory Gym, following a kill by senior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu.

It was that kind of night for the No. 3 Longhorns, who swept West Virginia to extend their season-high win streak to 11 games.

“We did well responding and just fighting,” senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu said. “(Despite the fact that) all of our touches weren’t the cleanest.”

Texas started the first set off on a quick 4-0 run and never looked back. A 25-19 win in the first frame was highlighted by four kills from sophomore outside hitter Micaya White.

The second set was more contested, as each team had at least two set points. But after a couple of exchanges across the net, a kill by freshman outside hitter Lexi Sun sealed the 28-26 win for the Longhorns.

“Our talk has just been staying calm in those pressure situations,” Ogbogu said. “Remembering our routines and just going back to the basics has helped us not be frantic.”

The Longhorns cruised through the final set 25-17 to complete the night’s sweep.

Ogbogu led the way for Texas, adding 11 kills and seven blocks. This marks Ogbogu’s third straight game with over 10 kills and five blocks. Her strong effort was complemented by White, who recorded nine kills and 11 digs on the night. 

“Just getting more practice and getting more comfortable (is key),” Ogbogu said. “It’s helped us get more comfortable with things we’re struggling with.”

One of the Longhorns’ defensive pillars, senior libero Cat McCoy, closed in on a milestone achievement on Saturday night, tying the school’s all-time record for digs. McCoy recorded 12 digs on the night and proved instrumental in stopping the Mountaineers’ consistent attack.

Texas’ all-around effort was evident not only on the stat sheet, but also on the floor. The Longhorns spent their evening diving on the hardwood, into the stands and on the scorers’ table saving balls as the match went on, highlighting the intensity that the Longhorns play with.

That intensity was matched by Texas’ fans. The Mountaineers accrued nine service errors as a consistently loud crowd contributed to Texas’ home-court advantage.

“It’s awesome playing at home in front of this crowd,” Ogbogu said. “It was just cool to see our fans come out and support us.”

As the second half of Big 12 play commences, the Longhorns will spend the majority of their time in the friendly confines of Gregory Gym, where they will play four of their next six games.

Texas travels to Manhattan, Kansas, to take on Kansas State on Wednesday. First serve is set for 8 p.m.

Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

On a warm August afternoon three years ago in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Longhorns took to the court to face Texas-El Paso.

The Longhorns swept the Miners in a comfortable victory, assisted by then-freshman libero Cat McCoy’s 11 digs. Now a senior, McCoy continues to be one of the defensive anchors of this year’s group.

“My first game was (against) UTEP in front of like 20 people,” McCoy said. “And I was still freaking out.”

Since that game, McCoy had added 1,522 more digs to her name, the fourth all-time at Texas.

McCoy was named an Under Armour All-American her senior year of high school, leading her alma mater Southlake Carroll to a 46–2 finish. And with three years under her belt in Austin, not a thing
has changed.

McCoy still spearheads a Texas defense with a team-high 195 digs this season along with 50 assists, ranking second on the team in that category.

Despite the numbers and accolades McCoy has garnered during her Longhorn tenure, there’s more to her than the stat sheet shows.

First, there’s the tenacity in which she approaches a game. McCoy understands that every opponent will come at the Longhorns with added incentive to take down one of the nation’s best programs, and makes sure Texas enters with a chip on its shoulder.

“Any time we play a team in Texas, it’s just a different mindset,” McCoy said ahead of Texas’ match with Texas A&M. “We (want to) run Texas, and we’re not going to let anyone beat us.”

McCoy’s leadership extends past the court, too. She’s been an instrumental part of head coach Jerritt Elliott’s recruiting efforts, leading to two of the nation’s most touted recruits taking their talents to the 40 Acres prior to the 2017 season. And once they arrive in Austin, McCoy knows how to help them fit right in.

“These experiences are great, especially early in big environments,” McCoy said. “It shows a lot about who they are and they’re going to keep growing and it’ll be awesome to say.”

And one would be remiss to ignore McCoy’s positive attitude in every aspect of the game. Whether it be in the practice facility or right in the middle of 5,000 screaming fans, McCoy knows how to keep her teammates on the same page with a joke or smile.

McCoy’s growth as a player and locker room leader has helped Texas remain a contender throughout her time in Austin. Now, in her senior year, she looks to uphold Texas’ consistent excellence through conference play.

With the Longhorns now 4–0 in the Big 12, they’ll travel to Lawrence to face No. 12 Kansas on Wednesday, their first ranked opponent since they lost to then-No. 1 Minnesota in Austin a month ago.

Texas comes into this game on a hot streak, coming off a 3-0 sweep at TCU and a six-game win streak. Now, the burnt orange will look to continue its Big 12 dominance in Lawrence. First serve is slated for 8 p.m.