While volleyball star Destinee Hooker brings Team USA and the Longhorn Nation ever closer to another gold at the 2012 Olympics, her former team is striking fear into the hearts of players and coaches across the Big 12 Conference.
Big 12 conference coaches named the Longhorns the unanimous favorite to take home the conference title again this year in a preseason poll. (With the exception of UT head coach Jerritt Elliot, who wasn’t allowed to vote for his own team. He picked Iowa State.) The Longhorns have been picked to win it all in this poll five times, including in 2011.
In the poll, the Longhorns blew past last year’s Big 12 Conference runner-up, Iowa State, with 64 points to the Cyclones’ 54—no small feat in a conference that sent seven teams to the NCAA postseason and had the nation’s best RPI in 2011.
With 2011′s Big 12 Player of the Year Bailey Webster and 2011′s Big 12 Freshman of the Year Haley Eckerman returning to the roster this season, landing in the poll’s top spot is less of a surprise than an affirmation of the great things to come from the Texas team.
In a video report following the first day of 2012 practice, the veteran players seemed confident about their prospects and the five new freshman in their lineup, including 2012 Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year Molly McCage.
Texas begins regular season play on Friday, Aug. 24 in a 6 p.m. match against LSU at Gregory Gym in the 26 West Longhorns Classic, where the team hopes to continue its streak of 30 consecutive home victories.
Haley Eckerman hits against two Texas State blockers. Photo by Patrick Meredith.