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Gazelles recruiting dominance continues

"The Texas Volleyball team's three-player recruiting class, headlined by No. 2 recruit Katherine Bell, No. 5 recruit Haley Eckerman and No. 13 recruit Madelyn Hutson, has been ranked No. 1 nationally by PrepVolleyball.com. The 2011 recruiting class marks the sixth-straight season the Longhorns' class has garnered a top-five ranking." Texas will likely be ranked #2 or #3 to start the season, and will once again take part in the Murderer's Row Tournament with Florida, Stanford and PSU to start the season, this time hosted by Stanford.

If you can't lick 'em...

... join 'em. Jerritt Elliot poached one of the nation's top assistants from Penn State a couple years back, now he's done the same from Nebraska. Although, it must be said that the Gazelles have had a pretty good run of success against the Cornshuckers the past few seasons. I hope Jerritt schedules them for an OOC match every year since we won't be facing them in the Big XII any more.

Horns' Hammer

ESPN College Sports has posted a story on Juliann Faucette on the front page today. "Every top volleyball team has a "hammer," a hitter who at the most crucial moments usually finds a way to put the ball down no matter how much the defense keys on him or her. Faucette, whose father played football and whose mother was a gymnast, is that player for Texas. She's also a natural combination of leader/mediator, being the second-oldest of five daughters."

Gazelles win final regular season match

No recap yet, but it was a wild one in Ames. Hilton Coliseum is one of the toughest places to play in the Big XII, but Texas prevailed 22-25, 25-23, 27-25, 25-19. Win streak now at 14, but still only good enough for second in the Big XII and probably a national 2 seed. Selections will be announced on Sunday at 2pm, and I expect Texas to be awarded a host slot for the first and second rounds, to go along with the Regional host slot that was confirmed before the season started. Expect the Gazelles to get hosed by the NCAA again as they always do in the post-season. With 4 Pac10 schools in the Top 10 it's highly likely we will get Cal, USC or UCLA in our Regional, and our girls have struggled against Pac10 teams in the post-season. So they will need a rowdy crowd for all four rounds to make sure they get back to the Final Four this year. BTW, Senior Juliann Faucette finally seems to be rounding back into the form that won her National Freshman of the Year honors. She was recognised as National Player of the Week last week. Good time for her to get on a roll, particularly as thin as we are at the moment due to injuries.

"It will be the most physical team that we have ever had."

Sorry guys. That's not Mack speaking. Nor is it Rick. That's uber-recruiter Jerritt Elliot talking about yet another monster class he's just inked for 2011. Top 3 in the country for sure, with the #3, #5 and #13 athletes in the country. With only two seniors this year, and getting Bailey Webster back from injury, next year's Gazelles will certainly be the deepest, most physical (if not the most talented) team we've ever had. The only team I think is more talented is the one that featured Destinee, Ashley and Juliann up front - last year's NC runners-up.

Hunter an honorary Gazelle

'Prior to Lawrence kicking the game-winning 46-yard field goal at the Big 12 Championship against Nebraska, Texas Volleyball head coach Jerritt Elliott sent text messages to all his captains. All season, the Longhorns have been motivated by a theme of "defining moments," so Elliott wrote, "This will be a defining moment for him. This is the moment we want to be in." Once the Longhorns were preparing for the NCAA Volleyball Omaha Regional, Elliott wanted the theme to continue. Football coach Mack Brown shared a Lawrence jersey that Elliott placed in the locker room before the Longhorns took on Nebraska in the regional final. "Sometimes adversity will face you, and you have to figure out what to do to be successful. The jersey was a reminder of what (Hunter) was able to do for our school," senior setter Ashley Engle said.' Jealous PB?

Gazelles finally fall

Texas faced it's toughest test of the season last night, and despite another stellar performance from Destinee Hooker they couldn't get the job done, falling in five sets to ISU in Ames. It was close (12-15 in the 5th set) but no cigar for the no-longer-perfect Gazelles. The loss to the 8th ranked Cyclones on the road shouldn't knock Texas from the #2 ranking, but probably puts paid to any hopes of the overall #1 seed in the post-season, as PSU has no more challenges left on their schedule. Texas will now likely end up with the #2 seed and be sent to Minneapolis for the UM regionals. Still all to play for at this point, but a perfect season sure would have been a nice way for this remarkable senior class to finish their careers.

"We battle. We fight, We play tough."

"When the Longhorns review this victory on film and on paper, they will inevitably see all the areas they can improve -- better passing, better blocking, better balance." This is from an article about the victory over OSU right? Nope. It's from the Gazelles' sweep of the Huskers. The trajectory of these two teams' season is so similar you can almost get a two-for-one- deal on writing articles about them. Next up for the Gazelles: Iowa State, the last serious challenge to an undefeated season. The Cyclones are two games back of the Horns, so they don't pose a major threat to winning the Big XII Championship, but Ames is a notoriously difficult place to play with extremely rabid fans. Oh, and another footnote: Destinee was awarded Big XII Offensive Player of the Week this week - the fourth time she's won the award just this season. She is a shoe-in to win the conference player of the year, and has to be co-favorite for the national award with PSU's Megan Hodge.

Texas Beats OU

Ok, it was the Gazelles in Gregory not the guys in the RRS, but it's a good start nonetheless. Texas stays undefeated with yet another sweep against an average OU squad. This one was closer than it should have been, according to Ashley Engle, because OU upset the Horns in Austin last year and the Gazelles were thinking too much about revenge.

Massive Showdown Looming

"We have not beaten Nebraska at their place since 1988, but it is always a fun match. It is a fun environment. I love playing at Nebraska. We play at Colorado first, and hopefully after that we will have some momentum going into Nebraska." - Ashley Engle No doubt about it, this is the Gazelles' season-defining moment on Saturday afternoon in Lincoln. Unfortunately this match won't be televised, but the return match at Gregory on Halloween will be. Win this one on the Huskers' home court and the Gazelles are in the driver's seat for the conference championship and a #1 seed. Not forgetting that the Gazelles have to take care of business in Boulder tonight, which is never a sure thing.

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