Freshman Cat McCoy has no trouble fitting in on tough Longhorn team

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When Texas fans hear the name “McCoy,” most remember Colt McCoy, who led the Longhorns to a Fiesta Bowl victory in 2009 and a national championship game appearance the following year.

But, by the time her four years are up on the 40 Acres, freshman libero Cat McCoy hopes she will be the more famous McCoy.

“It would be really cool to redefine that name,” McCoy said.

So far, McCoy is well on her way to doing that. She has played in each of the Longhorns’ first four matches, digging 50 balls and providing leadership along the back line in the defense.

“It’s been so much fun playing in front of big crowds and in a high-level environment,” McCoy said.

Success is nothing new to McCoy. She led Southlake Carroll High School to a 44-1 record last year, just missing a state championship. For her efforts, she was named to the Under Armour All-American first team and named one of 30 underclassmen to watch by Volleyball Magazine.

“It was a really competitive program,” McCoy said. “There were a lot of great players that taught me a lot.”

McCoy was selected to the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team to compete in the North, Central American and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation Women’s U-20 Continental Championship. On the way to the U.S.’s gold medal finish, McCoy said the tournament really helped out with her mental game.

“We had triple days, and it was really hard, but the competition level was high,” McCoy said. “Just getting that international experience was really awesome.”

But, even with all of her experience, nothing could quite get her ready for the first day of practice at Texas.

“I was so nervous,” McCoy said. “They were like, ‘Cat, you need to calm down and just play volleyball.’”

Once she settled down, McCoy proved she was ready to compete on a collegiate team, emerging from the preseason as the starting libero over junior Kat Brooks.

But with the libero spot comes more pressure and responsibility. At the position, McCoy’s job is primarily to dig the ball, make good passes to the setter and control the defense in the backcourt.

So far, she’s only proven head coach Jerritt Elliott and the rest of the coaching staff correct in selecting her as the starter.

“Sometimes there’s a lot of pressure putting [the libero] jersey on, and she hasn’t flinched since she’s put it on,” Elliott said. “We knew she was talented, but you never know until they get into these types of situations.”

McCoy’s 50 digs leads the team early in the young season, and she’s also tallied an assist and an ace. However, Elliott’s been more impressed with her consistency as she continues to learn more about the game.

“We’re pleased with her progression,” Elliott said. “There are a lot of things we’re trying to tighten up with her on the defensive side still.”

So far, the libero spot is hers for the foreseeable future, but, with as tough a practice gym and as deep a team as the Longhorns have this year, keeping that spot will be a yearlong battle.

But, as long as she’s on the court, her goal is to win the championship she didn’t get in high school.

“I want to help this team win, especially for the seniors,” McCoy said. “I’m going to come to practice and work the hardest.”