The A team: Dariam Acevedo
Every week TexasSports.com highlights a UT senior student-athlete who earned Academic All-Big 12 honors in 2005-06.
Dariam Acevedo is not your normal intelligent University of Texas student; then again, she is not the average Texas volleyball player.
Acevedo reigns supreme as Texas' outside hitter from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. Last year, she ruled the nets ranking eighth in kills per game among Big 12 leaders with 3.77. She also landed 11th in the league in aces with 0.33 and eighth in points with 4.42.
This season, she continues to post impressive numbers. She leads the squad with 4.21 kills per game and owns a .245 attack percentage. Defensively, she ranks third on the team in digs (165) and averages 0.4 blocks per game for the 10th-ranked Longhorns.
Did I mention she was smart? She was honored as first-team Academic All-Big 12 in 2004 and 2005.
With this amount of talent and drive for education, big dreams lie ahead of the not-so-towering 5-foot-10-inch volleyball player (the average height for Texas' volleyball athletes is 6 feet 1 inch).
"First, I'm going to see where school takes me," Acevedo said. "I plan to apply to grad school for physical therapy, so I know that I am going to complete all of my prerequisites and do all of the applying stuff. I have been thinking of playing professional volleyball, but right now [finishing school is the only thing that is for sure]."
Acevedo is also sure of one more thing-she wants to return to Puerto Rico.
"I want to go to go back," she said nostalgically. "That is my home. That is where I plan to earn my master's degree."
Puerto Rico also offers her more options to continue playing volleyball than the United States.
"It is different because you see more people playing and more interest," Acevedo explained. "It is like football here. Almost every girl plays volleyball. It is also really common among guys. There is a culture around volleyball in Puerto Rico. People are really excited about it and they know a lot about the sport."
Texas, which is off to an 11-4 mark on the season, including a 6-2 record in Big 12 Conference play, enjoys solid fan support and benefits from the home cooking at Gregory Gym. But to Acevedo, there is a marked difference between the Orange Bloods and Puerto Rican spectators.
"Crowds here are great, but nothing compares to the Puerto Rican crowd," she said, laughing with pride at the thought of the comparison. "The crowd is really into the game, and they are enthusiastic in a different way. It is more cultural. It has to do with the culture and the people."
However, Texas does provide Acevedo with an advantage, even if she does not plan to stay here after she graduates.
"I came to the United States because I wanted to experience something different," Acevedo said. "I have known of other Puerto Rican players that have come to the States and have had success in the past. I wanted to experience that and have education and sports together. When you go to college back home you are in school and part of a team, but they do not give that extra support that I have found here. You have to do a lot of that by yourself."
Even with the academic support Acevedo receives from Texas, she would most likely succeed on her own. She has been balancing academics and athletics from an early age.
"Studying is not new to me because since I was young, I've known that I wanted to play volleyball," Acevedo said. "In order to play I've always had to keep my grades up."
Regardless of her plans to leave the United States, Texas is proud to be Acevedo's home. She is the only Texas volleyball player that comes from outside the states. Her intensity on the court cuts her away from the average student at UT, yet her striking intelligence allows her to soar above average volleyball players.