Gazelles Daily Roundup - December 19 2009

It's time.  Four years of waiting are over tonight.  Game on.

The matchup is the volleyball equivalent to Texas vs. Southern Cal in football in 2005.

Hooker is Texas' Vince Young.

Just like with VY, this team is about more than just Destinee.  But just like VY, Destinee can take over a game.

"This year she's developed into a six-rotation, passing, hitting, jump serving, blocking and defensive specialist (player). She can hurt you from every position," Texas coach Jerritt Elliott said. "She's one of the few players in this country that can take over a match on her own, and it's one of the reasons we've been so successful this year."

And just like VY, Destinee has been dissed.  Megan Hodge has been named the AVCA Volleyball Player of the Year.

Snapshots of each of the teams. 

They are evenly matched across the board.

Volleyball observers agree that likely the only team to match up with Texas physically is Penn State, and vice versa.  Both teams feature stingy defenses and aggressive attacks, which makes this battle for the national title all that more appealing.     

"In terms of physicality, there are no other teams in the country that can match up with both of these teams," Elliott said.  "When you stare across the net, you’re seeing someone who can do the same kind of things you can, in terms of skill and physicality.  It’s going to come down to skill level. We’re going to have to execute and be very efficient with our attacking and make good attack choices.  Our block is going to have to be efficient and set up a block so that it can be funneled to the right defensive players."

"The match-up problems that Texas brings for everyone is that, with the system they’re running (6-2), they always have three great hit¬ters in the front row," Rose said.  "Part of preparation is, ‘Do you have someone in your gym who is capable of playing like (UT’s) Ashley Engle?’  With Texas, you can stand on a box and hit balls and say ‘Seriously, this is how high Destinee (Hooker) hits.’ I think what they pose for everyone is how offensive they are, and they’re a very confident unit."

Both teams have a singular motivation.

"Texas is hungrier to do better, and it probably feels like it has some unfinished business," Kiraly said.  "Penn State will be trying to do something that nobody has ever done, and that’s win three (NCAA championships) in a row.  Texas would love to prevent that from happening."

It's going to be Jordan vs. Bryant.  In tight shorts.

U.S. men's national volleyball coach Alan Knipe compared it to Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan meeting when both were in their primes.

"There have been a lot of really good matchups over the years for different reasons," Knipe said. "It's probably the matchup that most people wanted to see."

"I don't think there are many athletes who can do what Destinee Hooker can do, and not many can do what Megan Hodge can do," Minnesota coach Mike Hebert said. "They just stand out, to me, as two of the most dominant players in the college game today."

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