Volleyball picked second in Big 12, earns four preseason honors
IRVING, Texas -- The Texas Volleyball team was picked to finish second in the 2007 Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll as announced Tuesday by the conference office, while four Longhorn players earned Preseason All-Big 12 honors.
UT ranked second in the league with three preseason All-Big 12 selections that include all three of Texas' 2006 All-Americans and All-Big 12 standouts. Ashley Engle, the 2006 Big 12 Freshman of the Year, is joined on the preseason squad by two-time All-American Michelle Moriarty and 2006 All-Big 12 First Team selection Destinee Hooker. In addition, high school All-America standout and incoming freshman Juliann Faucette earned Preseason Freshman of the Year honors. Faucette (San Diego, Calif./Westview HS) is a 6-2 outside hitter.
Defending national champion Nebraska was selected as the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 title for the 11th consecutive season in a vote of the league's head coaches. The Huskers received 10 of the possible 11 first-place votes while tallying 100 points overall. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams. Texas ranked second behind NU with 91 points, including one first-place vote. The Longhorns were followed by Missouri, Texas A&M and Colorado filling the top five spots. Iowa State was sixth with Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Tech rounding out the poll.
Engle, a Second Team AVCA All-American and First Team All-Big 12 selection, highlighted the Horns' offense in 2006, registering a team-high 463 kills and posting a 3.99 kills per-game average. The 2006 Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year also ranked second on the squad in digs (329), digs per-game (2.84), service aces (33) and assists (89), while ranking third on the team with 88 total blocks. She finished the season hitting .262 and ranked seventh in the Big 12 in kills and points per-game (4.68).
Moriarty, a Third Team AVCA All-American and honorable mention All-Big 12 honoree, led the Longhorns and the Big 12 Conference with a 13.68 assists per-game average and ranked fourth nationally in that category. During her junior season, Moriarty became Texas' career leader in assists, recording 1,587 assists on the year and moving her career total to 4,358. The Houston, Texas, native also totaled a team-high 34 service aces and added 2.66 digs per-game, a mark good for fourth-best on the squad.
Hooker, an honorable mention AVCA All-American and First Team All-Big 12 selection, helped headline the Horns' high-powered attack in 2006, connecting for 373 kills and registering 3.49 kills per-game during her inaugural campaign. Hooker hit at a .276 clip on the season, recorded 4.12 points per-game and tied for third best on the Texas squad with 15 service aces.
Faucette was selected as the Preseason Freshman of the Year, marking the second straight season that a Longhorn has received this honor (Ashley Engle, 2006). Faucette was a four-year starter for Westview High School in San Diego and was tabbed as the nation's No. 2 recruit by PrepVolleyball.com. Last summer, Faucette was the second-highest scorer for the USA Women's Junior National Team, which won a gold medal at the 2006 NORCECA Continental Women's Junior Championships in Mexico. Faucette also competed for the USA National Team at the Azteca Cup last September.
Big 12 conference teams open the season the weekend of Aug. 24, while conference action is slated to begin on Sept. 12.
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