For members of Texas’ volleyball team this month, the ideal birthday gift has been a win.
That’s what UT gifted sophomore middle blocker Orie Agbaji, who turned 20 while recording three blocks against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Sept. 7. Associate head coach Tonya Johnson observed her birthday on Sept. 1, the same day that Texas swept Villanova. (Longhorns setters Ashley Shook and Riley Fisbeck have had birthdays on off-days in September.)
The Longhorns re-gifted those victories for freshman Lexi Sun and sophomore Micaya White on Tuesday. White led Texas to a 25-18, 26-24, 25-22 win at UT-San Antonio with a season-high 17 kills. Sun added 13 kills. The sweep came on Sun’s 19th birthday. A day later, White turned 21.
UT will attempt to gift-wrap another win on Saturday, which just happens to be sophomore Autumn Rounsaville’s birthday. The Dripping Springs-raised defensive specialist who is averaging 2.38 digs per set will celebrate her birthday in Morgantown, W.V., as UT opens Big 12 play.
Texas (8-2, 0-0) has won the conference five of the past six years. That one aberration, however, occurred last season. Texas is ranked sixth in this week’s AVCA poll, but No. 12 Kansas (11-2) and No. 18 Iowa State (9-1) seem like worthy contenders. (Kansas, which plays Texas on Oct. 11 and Nov. 15, is the Big 12’s reigning champion).
UT is led by Sun and White, two outside hitters who are averaging 3.61 and 3.25 kills per set. Senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu leads the conference in blocks (1.71 per set), and libero Cat McCoy ranks fifth in digs (4.24 per set). All-American outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu has also returned to the team after missing Tuesday’s match with what the school called “a personal situation.”
And the winner is…: Texas baseball announced six new team awards on Wednesday, each one named for former Longhorns.
First baseman Kacy Clemens won the inaugural Brooks Kieschnick Team MVP and Keith Moreland Offensive Player of the Year awards. As a senior he led the team in home runs (12), RBIs (49), batting average (.305) and runs scored (48). He was a second-team all-conference pick.
Junior Morgan Cooper earned the Greg Swindell Pitcher of the Year award. Freshman shortstop David Hamilton was the Spike Owen Defensive Player of the Year. Junior Jake McKenzie, who played five different positions while studying petroleum engineering, is the first-ever Sean Braswell Academic MVP honoree.
The James and Huston Street Longhorn Award was given to Travis Jones. A junior outfielder this past spring, Jones was given an award that “was created to recognize the player who most embodies what it means to be a Longhorn through leadership, selflessness, and integrity both on and off the field.” Jones was hit by 15 pitches and ranked among the team leaders in steals, runs and RBIs.
Texas went 39-24 in David Pierce’s first season. Hamilton and McKenzie, however, will be the only ones from those award recipients in the dugout when UT opens fall practices this month. Clemens, Cooper and Jones were selected in the 2017 MLB draft, and Cooper and Jones each decided to forgo their final year of collegiate eligibility.