Volleyball tops Big 12 preseason poll; Faucette, Adams garner preseason honors
IRVING, Texas -- Texas, the 2007 Big 12 co-champion, has been chosen as the preseason favorite to win the conference title this season in a vote of the league's head coaches. The Longhorns 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 also placed four players on the Preseason All-Big 12 team, while sophomore outside hitter Juliann Faucette earned Preseason Co-Player of the Year and freshman middle blocker Rachael Adams landed Preseason Freshman of the Year honors.
The Horns posted a 27-4 overall record last season, the best mark in the Jerritt Elliott era, while advancing to the NCAA Regional finals for the second straight year. In conference action, the Longhorns claimed a share of the Big 12 crown with Nebraska after both squads finished 19-1. It marked the first league title in a decade for Texas. Elliott welcomes back 10 letterwinners, including five starters and four All-Americans. He also added five players -- a recruiting class which ranked second in the country -- claiming the No. 2 spot nationally for the third consecutive season. Texas was selected first in the Big 12 preseason poll for the second time in league history (1996).
Nebraska was second behind UT with 88 points, followed by Kansas State, Texas A&M and Missouri to round out the top five. KSU received the only other first-place vote awarded. Iowa State was sixth, while Colorado checked in at No. 7. Baylor and Oklahoma were tied for eighth place with Kansas and Texas Tech filling the final two spots.
UT led the conference with four preseason All-Big 12 selections -- All-Americans Ashley Engle, Faucette, Destinee Hooker and Lauren Paolini. Faucette and two-time All-America honoree Jordan Larson (Nebraska) were named preseason co-players of the year. Sydney Anderson (Nebraska) and Adams were tabbed newcomer and freshman of the year, respectively.
Faucette, last season's AVCA National Freshman of the Year, averaged the second-most kills (4.85) and points (5.52) in conference matches in 2007. She was the only freshman in the Big 12 to be ranked among the top 10 in kills and points. The San Diego, Calif., native registered 10 double-doubles in all matches.
Adams, a PrepVolleyball.com All-American and Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selection, attended Mount Notre Dame High School and played club volleyball with Team Z in Cincinnati. She boasts a 36-inch vertical leap and is a two-time member of the U.S. Youth National Team. In 2006, she helped the USA claim a gold medal at the NORCECA International Championships in Florida. Last summer, Adams led Team Z to a 17 Open Junior Olympic club national championship.
Adams' selection as the Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year marks the third year in a row that Texas has claimed that honor. Engle and Faucette garnered preseason FOY accolades in 2006 and 2007.
Big 12 teams open the season the weekend of Aug. 29, while conference action is slated to begin on Sept. 17.