Volleyball ranked 11th in preseason poll
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The Texas volleyball team is ranked 11th in the CSTV/American Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Poll, the AVCA announced on Monday. The Longhorns concluded their 2004 season also ranked 11th after advancing to the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time since 1998.
Texas was one of four Big 12 teams ranked in the preseason poll, as a total of seven of the Horns' opponents were either ranked or received votes in the poll. Defending Big 12 champion Nebraska was the preseason No. 1 in the AVCA poll, receiving 35 of 60 first-place votes. Texas A&M was slotted 16th, and Missouri was voted 21st. Additionally, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Kansas and Colorado were among the teams that received votes.
Washington was ranked second with 15 first-place votes, followed by defending national champion Stanford in third (eight first-place votes), Hawaii (one first-place vote) in fourth and Penn State (one first-place vote) in fifth.
Texas, which boasted a 26-5 overall record last season, returns seven letterwinners - including four starters and the team's libero - from the successful 2004 squad, led by sophomore AVCA honorable mention All-Central region setter Michelle Moriarty (Houston, Texas) and junior All-Big 12 honorable mention selection Brandy Magee (Mission Viejo, Calif.) at middle blocker. Also returning are a pair of starting outside hitters, including junior Dariam Acevedo (Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico) - who was the 2004 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year - and sophomore Jen Christian (Gilbert, Ariz.). Sophomore libero Alyson Jennings (Costa Mesa, Calif.) returns to patrol the back row.
In addition to the seven returning players, Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott, the 2004 Big 12 and AVCA Central Region Coach of the Year, welcomes six newcomers to the fold in 2005. The crop of newcomers is headlined by junior transfer Jennifer Todd (Henderson, Nev.), who was an honorable mention All-Pac 10 selection at Washington State last season, and freshman Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.), who was the seventh-ranked high school player in the 2005 graduating class.
Texas has only one senior on the roster and no player with more than two years of playing experience on the team. The Longhorns' roster is comprised of one senior, four juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen. Texas lost two starters from the 2004 team, senior All-Americans Mira Topic and Bethany Howden, and a total of five letterwinners.
"Earning a preseason ranking of number 11 is a nice compliment from coaches around the country, but every coach knows that the preseason poll is exactly that," Elliott said. "With such a young team and the loss of two great All-Americans, this team still needs to concentrate on improving on a daily basis. We are not as concerned with today's poll, but rather where we'll end up at the conclusion of the season."
The 11th-ranked Longhorns open the 2005 season on Friday, Sept. 2, in Notre Dame, Ind. Texas will play Arizona State at 7 p.m. that evening, before taking on the host Irish at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3. That game will be taped by CSTV for air on Sunday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m. UT opens its home slate on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at Gregory Gym against Colorado at 6:30 p.m.