Volleyball back on the Forty Acres
Aug. 8, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas -- On another 100-degree day in Austin, the buzz around the Texas Volleyball team could not be any hotter as the defending Big 12 Champs step back on the Forty Acres for what should prove to be another stellar season. The Longhorns have made back-to-back NCAA Regional finals appearances each of the past two seasons and are seeking their first trip to the NCAA Championship since 1995.
The trek to the Qwest Center Omaha, site of this year's championship, begins with the simplest of tasks, but it is the little things that must be taken care of before the team can get on the court and get down to business.
"I'm very excited to finally be here. I had a calendar counting down the days until I finally got to get on the plane and get moved in," freshman middle blocker Rachael Adams said. "My mom and I have been living in a hotel for three days and I am really excited to finally be on campus."
The team started the Friday off with a 9 a.m. photo shoot at Gregory Gymnasium and began moving into the dorms following photos. They spent the rest of the day shopping for groceries, attending required meetings and getting acclimated before the start of fall practice.
"The trip to Austin from Honolulu is long, but to finally be here is amazing," freshman libero Sydney Yogi said. "I can't believe this is actually happening. Rachael and I had a countdown going for the past three months and now finally getting on campus and getting our uniforms doesn't quite feel real.
"My mom, my little brother and one of my best friends made the trip to Austin with me and we have been here since last Saturday," Yogi continued. "We have had a lot of time to go shopping, have some fun, explore around town and just get acclimated to the town and to the time difference."
In 2007, the Longhorns posted their best record under head coach Jerritt Elliott, recording a 27-4 mark, earning a share of the Big 12 title for the first time in a decade and making their second straight NCAA Regional finals appearance. Elliott welcomes back 10 letterwinners, five starters and four All-Americans, while adding five freshmen to the mix. His five-player recruiting class ranks second in the country, claiming the No. 2 spot nationally for the third consecutive season.
Sophomore outside hitter Juliann Faucette anchored Elliott's 2007 recruiting class, went on to garner AVCA National Freshman of the Year honors and is poised for another great season.
"I think last year was really good for me," Faucette said. "I learned a lot during our season and then going to play with older girls at USA Volleyball was an eye-opening experience where I was able to learn a lot.
"Hopefully I can bring some of what I learned back to the team and especially to the new freshman," Faucette added. "At this time last year it was a bit of an overwhelming experience moving in as a freshman, but we will be all pitching in to help this year's freshmen out in this exciting time."
As the Longhorns veterans and newcomers come together to form the 2008 version of the Texas Volleyball team, they appear ready for a run at the title. However, everything starts in the practice gym where the Horns will be working hard for the next three weeks in preparation for their season opener against USC on Friday, Aug. 29 in Omaha, Neb.