Volleyball preview: Orange and White
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas volleyball team has been hard at work for the last two weeks, running through two practices a day most days since arriving back on campus on Tuesday, August 10. The team has used the sessions to get back to basics, rebuilding and recommitting to the essential elements of the game: defense, passing, blocking and finally hitting.
On Saturday, August 28, the team will have the opportunity to put those skills to the test when the Horns hold an Orange and White scrimmage at Gregory Gym at 5 p.m. The players will take on each other in the team's last match-style scrimmage before opening the 2004 season on Friday, Sept. 3 at SMU (6 p.m. at Moody Coliseum in Dallas, Texas). During the scrimmage, head coach Jerritt Elliott will interchange his lineups so fans will have the opportunity to see many of the possible offensive – and defensive – combinations on the court in 2004.
Saturday's scrimmage allows fans to get their first look at the 2004 UT roster, a promising group of players picked to finish third in the ever-competitive Big 12 Conference. Seven (of 12 total) of this year's team members were Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 recruits out of high school and with no juniors on the team, 10 players are underclassmen. With just two seniors leading the way – Bethany Howden (Austin, Texas) and Mira Topic (Kastela Kambelovac, Croatia), both of whom were honorable mention All-Americans last year – the Horns' youth and enthusiasm will be big factors in the success of the team.
After a disappointing 2003 season that was marred with injuries and off-the-court family tragedies, Texas is ready to play its way back into the circle of the national elite this year. The 2003 squad – complete with three freshmen in the regular rotation at the end of the year – turned the corner at the end of last season, and capped its campaign with its biggest win of the year – a 3-1 victory over fifth-ranked Kansas State at home in Gregory Gym.
Prior to Saturday's scrimmage, the team and coaching staff will hold a kids' clinic in the gym at 3:30 p.m. for children in eighth grade or younger. After the clinic, while the team warms up for the scrimmage, Elliott will lead a tour through the team's locker room and team areas.
After the scrimmage, at approximately 6 p.m., the Longhorns will conduct a meet and greet for the fans in attendance and sign autographs on the floor of Gregory Gym.