Texas has placed an unprecedented THREE players on the first team of the AVCA Division I All-America team this year. Tempest will know for sure, but I think this is the best we've ever done in school history. It's an impressive feat, but the scary thing is - Penn State landed four on the first team, and two more on the second team.
Back to the Gazelles....
Our three honorees are
1. Destinee Hooker (3rd time honoree)
2. Ashley Engle (2nd time honoree)
3. Lauren Paolini (2nd time honoree)
Engle, a Yorba Linda, Calif, native earned first-team honors after notching AVCA All-Central Region First Team and All-Big 12 First Team accolades. The junior ranks second on the Texas team with 2.93 kills and 2.23 digs per-set, while her .307 attack mark ranks eighth in the Big 12. Engle also averages 0.75 blocks and 1.01 assist per-set and has tallied 31 service aces.
Hooker, a San Antonio, Texas, native grabbed first-team All-America honors after garnering second team honors last season. The junior has already been named AVCA All-Central Region First Team and All-Big 12 First Team. Hooker paced the Longhorns attack in 2008, averaging a team-best 4.08 kills per-set and a Big 12-best 4.86 points per-set. She ranks seventh in the league with a .320 attack mark and leads her Texas squad with a team-best 35 service aces.
Paolini earns first-team honors and her third postseason honor after claiming AVCA All-Region First Team and All-Big 12 First Team honors. The Ann Arbor, Mich., native ranks second in the NCAA with a .483 hitting percentage, a mark that will obliterate her single-season UT record of .419, set in 2007. Paolini ranks fourth on the squad with 2.60 kills per-set and ranks second on the team with 0.87 blocks per-set.
The Player of the Year will come from this bunch. That honor will be announced Friday night in Omaha. I would think it's down to Foluke Akinradewo (Stanford), Nicole Fawcette or Megan Hodge (both PSU), but Destinee might have an outside chance, as might Jordan Larson of Nebraska.
Freshman of the Year is Kelly Murphy of Florida, who was heavily recruited by Texas. I'm disappointed Michelle didn't win this award, but I imagine she'll get a spot on one of the teams next year.