Volleyball dominates Big 12 Conference honors
DALLAS -- University of Texas senior Mira Topic (Kastela Kambelovac, Croatia) was voted Big 12 Player of the Year, sophomore Dariam Acevedo (Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico) was voted Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and head coach Jerritt Elliott was voted Big 12 Coach of the Year, while Topic and senior All-American Bethany Howden (Austin, Texas) earned first-team All-Big 12 accolades, the conference announced on Sunday. Additionally, sophomore Brandy Magee (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and freshman Michelle Moriarty (Houston, Texas) were honored as honorable mention All-Big 12 players.
The all-conference teams and individual award winners were voted on by the Big 12's 11 head coaches, who were not able to vote for their own players.
Texas led all schools, placing four members on the all-conference teams, followed by Big 12 champion Nebraska, Kansas State and Missouri with three apiece. Nebraska's Sarah Pavan earned freshman of the year honors, while the Cornhuskers' Jennifer Saleaumua and Texas A&M's Melissa Munsch were co-defensive players of the year and Kansas State's Angie Lastra was voted libero of the year.
Topic, a four-time first-team All-Big 12 honoree and two-time All-American, is Texas' first conference player of the year since Demetria Sance was the 1997 Southwest Conference player of the year. This year, she led the conference in kills per game (5.64 kills/game overall and 5.84 kills/game in conference matches only) and is ranked sixth nationally in kills per game. Additionally, she swung for a .315 attack percentage on the year as an outside hitter. Topic played all but four points this season and set the Big 12 volleyball record for number of times honored as conference player of the week in a season (four) and a career (seven) this year.
Acevedo, who transferred to Texas from Oregon at the beginning of the 2003 season, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her second match back from playing at the World Under-20 Championships. She received a medical redshirt and played this season as a sophomore. In her first full season at Texas, she started all 28 matches, hitting .275 on the right side and averaging 1.98 kills/game, 2.61 digs/game 0.42 blocks/game and adding 21 aces. Acevedo was voted the 2003 Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year before suffering her season-ending injury.
Howden earned the third first-team All-Big 12 honor of her career, and her fourth all-conference honor overall. One of six Preseason All-Big 12 selections, Howden finished the season ranked second in hitting percentage with a .388 mark while averaging 4.09 kills/game and 1.03 blocks/game. The 2003 All-American was ranked 23rd nationally in hitting percentage (as of Nov. 22) and is currently third on the Texas career kills list with 1,762 kills.
Magee earned her first conference recognition after starting all 28 matches this season. She was fifth in the Big 12 in hitting percentage (.352) and averaged 2.86 kills/game. She had a career-best 24 kills at Colorado on Nov. 3, and earned Big 12 player of the week honors the following Monday - the first such honor of her career - for the performance.
Moriarty has started all 28 matches at setter this season, leading the Horns to a .310 hitting percentage. The freshman was just UT's fourth-ever true freshman to start at setter, and averaged 13.07 assists per game on the season. As a team, UT led the conference and was ranked second nationally (as of Nov. 22) in hitting percentage, and was eighth nationally in kills per game (17.22 as of Nov. 22) and ninth in assists per game (15.80 as of Nov. 22).
Elliott was honored by his peers as the conference coach of the year for the first time during his stint in the Big 12, and for the third time in his career including two Pacific 10 Conference coach of the year nods (1999 and 2000).
The fourth-year head coach turned Texas into a national Top-10 with a 24-4 record through Nov. 28, after finishing the 2003 season with a 15-14 record. In the conference, Texas went from a 10-10 record and a seventh-place showing in 2003 to a 16-4 record and a second-place finish this season.
The 11th-ranked Longhorns await word on their next opponent when the NCAA Tournament bracket is announced at 5:45 p.m. Central on Sunday, Nov. 28, on ESPNews.
2004 ALL-CONFERENCE BIG 12 VOLLEYBALL AWARDS
Coach of the Year: Jerritt Elliott, Texas
FIRST TEAM ALL-BIG 12
HONORABLE MENTION ALL-BIG 12