Volleyball unveils 2009 schedule
April 22, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Volleyball team will play one of the nation's toughest schedules in the country in 2009, according to the team's official schedule released Wednesday by UT head coach Jerritt Elliott.
Texas will face at least nine teams -- accounting for 12 of the team's 26 scheduled matches -- that participated in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Included in that total are six matches against teams that reached the NCAA Regional finals last season.
"We wanted the most competitive schedule we could put together," Elliott said. "We have an experienced team and we will challenge our team as much as we can in non-conference play."
Texas opens the season in Long Beach, Calif. with a pair of matches against host Long Beach State and San Diego on Aug. 29-30. The Horns then continue their road trip in Hawaii when they square off with St. Louis and 2008 NCAA Regional finalists California and Hawaii, Sept. 3-6.
The Horns close out their non-conference slate at home when they open their home calendar with New Mexico State on Sept. 10.
"Long Beach has been a powerhouse in the past and they have good crowds and San Diego is a contender in their conference every year," Elliott said. "Both of those teams possess a lot of good ball control and it will be a good opening weekend for us."
"To go play Hawaii at Hawaii is always a challenge because they have a huge fan base," Elliott said. "Cal will be a top-five team in the preseason and a team like St. Louis that has won their conference will be another challenge. Our home opener is with a very good New Mexico State team which has been a runner-up to Hawaii in the past few years."
In conference play, Texas takes on three league teams that finished the 2008 season ranked in the AVCA Top 25. Joining No. 3 Nebraska in the final poll, were No. 11 Iowa State and No. 20 Kansas State. Nebraska reached the NCAA Semifinals in 2008, while Iowa State fell to Texas in the NCAA Austin Regional final.
"We think our conference schedule will prepare us for the postseason as well," Elliott noted. "I think Iowa State is going to be very, very strong and Nebraska is one of the premier programs in the country. We will be challenged throughout Big 12 play with so many good teams in our conference."
UT kicks off its Big 12 calendar Wednesday, Sept. 16 when it welcomes Baylor to Gregory Gymnasium.
For the fifth-straight year, Texas will play most of its home matches at 6:30 p.m., unless television coverage necessitates individual match time changes.
The home schedule is highlighted by the Nebraska match Saturday, Oct. 31 and showdowns with Iowa State on Sept. 18 and Kansas State on Nov. 18.
UT will host Texas A&M, historically one of the teams' top matches of the season, on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Texas has won the last nine meetings between the two teams and swept the 2008 season series for the fourth straight season.
The Horns' also host Oklahoma on Saturday, Oct. 10, while Missouri visits on Wednesday, Oct. 21 and Colorado comes to town on Saturday, Oct. 24.
The Longhorns, who finished the 2008 season with a 29-4 record and notched their first NCAA Semifinal berth since 1995, return 12 of 15 letterwinners, including six starters.