AUSTIN, Texas -- With the official start of the 2005 season still one week away, the 11th-ranked Texas volleyball team will get its first chance to put three weeks of practice to the test when it hosts a pair of scrimmages this weekend - one against UTSA and the other the annual Orange & White Scrimmage. Both matches will be played in the "Horns' House" - Gregory Gym - and are free to the public.
On Friday evening, Texas will play for unofficial bragging rights to I-35 when the team hosts UT-San Antonio at 6 p.m. The teams will play a best-of-five match that will give both coaching staffs the opportunity to test their squads against a new opponent.
Last year, Texas went 26-5, advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 and earned a No. 11 final ranking. Jerritt Elliott's Longhorns return seven letterwinners in 2005, including four starters and the team's libero. The Horns will also see five newcomers get their first taste of competition at the friendly confines of Gregory Gym.
The Roadrunners are coached by former Texas All-American Laura Neugebauer-Groff, who helped lead UT to four-straight Southwest Conference titles (1982-85). UTSA returns 10 letterwinners, including all six starters and the team's libero from the squad that went 16-16 and finished fourth in the Southland Conference last season.
"We've been working hard in practice for the last three weeks and it will be nice to see some other faces in the gym on Friday night," Elliott said. "These two matches will give us a great opportunity to see our offensive and defensive systems working in competitive setting. With our size up front, we've also been doing a lot of work on our blocking and are looking for improvements there, as well."
On Saturday, UT will break its 12-member team into a pair of squads for the Orange & White match at 5 p.m. The day will begin with a free, hour-long kids clinic (for children in grades six and younger) at 3:30 p.m.
At 4:30 p.m., clinic participants will get the chance to tour the Longhorns' locker room and facilities at Gregory Gym while the team warms up on the court.
First serve of the scrimmage is set for 5 p.m., with a meet and greet and informal autograph session with the team planned for the conclusion of play.
"The Orange & White Scrimmage is also a great opportunity for our fans to see the team up close and meet the players they come out to see every match. We love seeing so many young kids come out early to learn a few skills from our players in the free clinic before they see their teachers put those same skills to use in the match. Our team enjoys the event and we hope our fans will have fun, too," Elliott said.