DALLAS -- After a second-place finish in the Big 12 standings in 2004, the Texas volleyball team was picked to finish third in 2005 by a vote of the league's 11 head coaches, the conference announced on Wednesday. Also released was the coaches' Preseason All-Big 12 Team and preseason individual honors, of which Texas had three selections.
The Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll saw defending champion Nebraska picked first, followed by Missouri in second, who finished tied for third with Texas A&M in 2004. The Aggies were chosen fourth and Kansas rounded out the top five. Kansas State (sixth), Baylor and Colorado (tied for seventh), Oklahoma (ninth), Texas Tech (10th) and Iowa State (11th) completed the poll.
Texas earned a 26-5 overall record and a 16-4 record in Big 12 matches to finish second last season - the team's highest finish since 1998. Seniors Mira Topic and Bethany Howden were both All-America honorees, while Topic was the Big 12 Player of the Year.
Both players graduated and Texas has seven returning letterwinners, including four starters and the team's libero. Six new players - including two former Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selections and an honorable mention All-Pac 10 performer - are slated to join the team this season.
On Wednesday, the conference also announced the results of the coaches' polling for preseason all-conference honors. Texas' Jennifer Todd (Henderson, Nev.), a junior transfer from Washington State, was chosen as the Preseason Newcomer of the Year, marking the third-straight year a Texas player has been so voted. Todd was an honorable-mention All-Pac 10 selection in 2004 for the Cougars.
Additionally, junior middle blocker Brandy Magee (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and sophomore setter Michelle Moriarty (Houston, Texas) were both voted to the 13-member Preseason All-Big 12 Team. They were joined on that team by Baylor's Desiree Guillard-Young; Colorado's Allie Griffin and Ashley Nu'u; Kansas' Josi Lima; Missouri's Lindsey Hunter and Jessica Vander Kooi; Nebraska's Melissa Elmer, Sarah Pavan and Jennifer Saleaumua; Oklahoma's Joanna Schmidt; and Texas A&M's Laura Jones.
Both Magee and Moriarty were All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selections in 2004.
Nebraska's Pavan was voted the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year and the Husker's Jordan Larson was selected as the Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year.
"It's a great compliment to both Michelle and Brandy to be nominated by the other coaches to the preseason all conference team," Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. "They have worked hard and deserve the recognition.
"Jennifer Todd brings a lot of experience to our team after coming off a stellar sophomore season in the Pac-10. We look forward to having her on our side of the net to compete in this tough conference."
Texas, which closed the 2004 season with a trip to the NCAA Regional Semifinals and ranked 11th nationally, opens the 2005 campaign on Friday, Sept. 2 against Arizona State in Notre Dame, Ind. The Horns open their home schedule on Wednesday, Sept. 14 against Colorado at Gregory Gym in a 6:30 p.m. contest.