In what can only be described as a years-long down period for the men’s revenue sports at Texas, the women’s volleyball team has served as a constant reminder of the excellence that once characterized the entire athletic department. The 2017 Gregory Gazelles were no exception, running the table in Big 12 play and winning every single match after falling to then-No. 1 Minnesota way back on September 8.
Their 24-2 regular-season record and No. 2 national ranking were, apparently, not enough for the NCAA selection committee to award Texas a top-four national seed (and therefore home-court advantage through the first two weekends of the tournament). Instead, Texas received the No. 6 seed and was routed through Palo Alto.
The Gazelles took care of Fairfield and NC State in Austin to advance to the Palo Alto Regional, where they dispatched Utah in a tough match to face the host Cardinal. The bad news is that the committee’s decision forced Texas to play an excellent Stanford team on its home court Saturday night, in a rematch of last year’s national championship match which the Cardinal won 3-1. This year was even worse, with Stanford pulling a clean 3-0 sweep.
The consoling news is that it looked as if the Gazelles could play Stanford anytime, anywhere and not fare much better. The Cardinal were just too much for Texas at the net, with Texas’ normally deadly hitters stymied all night by Stanford’s blockers. Still, Texas’ Micaya White and Chiaka Ogbogu made the all-regional team along with three Stanford players and one each from Utah and Wisconsin.
So Stanford now moves on to the NCAA semifinals to defend its title, while Texas misses out on the Final Four for the first time since 2011. It’s worthwhile to take a moment and appreciate that streak under coach Jerritt Elliott, which yielded one championship and two second-place finishes. There’s no reason to believe his squad won’t continue to dominate the conference and compete for national titles.
And now that the season has ended, maybe Coach Elliott can run some coaching clinics for a few of his Longhorn colleagues.*
*This is a joke. Please do not get mad online in the comments.