Texas Volleyball hosts international opponent for first time in Elliott era
Sept. 8, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Volleyball team has traveled far and wide recently. The Longhorns embarked on a 12-day European tour this summer, and just opened the 2009 season with a road trip to California and Hawaii that saw UT defeat five ranked opponents.
Now, the second-ranked Longhorns bring a little bit of the road back with them to Gregory Gym. UT opens its home season on Friday and Saturday with a pair of matches against the Italian National A2 Team.
The Longhorns will unveil their 2008 NCAA Semifinalist and Big 12 Championship banners before Friday's match. Fans will also have a chance to take photos with the 2007 and 2008 Big 12 Championship trophies, but the unique atmosphere will provide something else.
"It's a chance to see what international volleyball is all about," UT head coach Jerritt Elliott said. "It's a different style of play, and there are a lot of Italian players on this team that have the potential to be in the next Olympics."
Of course, the same could be said for these Longhorns. Outside hitters Destinee Hooker and Juliann Faucette have previously trained in Colorado with the U.S. National team, and senior All-American Ashley Engle is off to a remarkable start.
After transitioning to setter this season, Engle paced the Longhorns during their season-opening road trip that featured victories over then-No. 4 Hawaii, No. 10 California, No. 15 San Diego, No. 19 St. Louis and No. 23 Long Beach State.
Engle was just named the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week after averaging 8.82 assists, 2.91 kills, 2.27 digs and 0.64 blocks per set, while also hitting at a .564 clip in Hawaii.
While these two matches against the Italians will not factor into UT's overall win-loss record, the exhibition matches still bring challenges to the Longhorns, who are hosting an international team at Gregory Gym for the first time under Elliott.
"European teams serve very well. They're known for that," Elliott said. "Our team is a deep team, and this gives us a chance to look at different players and how we can do different things with our lineup."
Italian National A2 Team Friday, Sept. 11 6:30 p.m.
Italian National A2 Team Saturday, Sept. 12 6:30 p.m.
A new four-match mini plan will be offered this year for only $20. The mini plan includes tickets to Iowa State, Texas A&M, Colorado and Kansas. To order a mini plan, call the UT Athletics Events, Sales and Services office at 512-232-3865 or visit TexasBoxOffice.com.