Texas’ talent-rich volleyball team is ready to prove they can play together

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Senior middle blocker Rachael Adams, No. 5 in white above, leads an extremely experienced Longhorns squad who have been tabbed to win the Big 12 Conference. Adams and Co. take on Pepperdine Aug. 26.

Photo Credit: Danielle Villasana | Daily Texan Staff

Although the graduation of superstar players Juliann Faucette, Jennifer Doris and Lauren Dickson has the potential to inhibit the team, head coach Jerritt Elliott is ready to get started this weekend and understand their new identity better.

“This is probably the most physical team we’ve had,” Elliott said. “It’s also the deepest team we’ve had.”

Elliott and team members are excited about the progress they have made together, especially in the Orange/White scrimmage last week. But, Elliott is still cautious because he hasn’t seen the team play in an actual game.

The Burnt Orange Classic, hosted at UT this weekend will begin the Longhorn’s preseason with matches against Pepperdine, Ole Miss and the Israeli National Team.

The team’s first opponent is Pepperdine, a strong team led by seniors Kim Hill, Lilla Frederick and Stevi Robinson.

“Our preseason is very stacked and it’s going to be a challenge for us,” Elliott said.

He, along with the rest of the team, cannot forget last season when they began the year with a 5-4 record. That year, the team proved that having a perfect start is not required to have a great season.

“This team is experienced enough where we need to be challenged early on,” Elliott said. “Ultimately, the goal isn’t to go undefeated. It’s to learn about who we are and develop so that we can be a contender by the end of the year.”

Elliott was impressed by the team’s blocking and noted their improvement in touches.

Although the games this weekend won’t be easy, it is important for Elliott and the team to understand where they are at so far in the season. The players have been working out all summer together, but they need to prove that they can play as a team this weekend.

“As a coach, you are always wondering where you are at and whose developing and where we are going to be,” Elliott said.

Sophomore Bailey Webster said the team is not nervous and are ready to start the season.

“Everyone has that calm confidence like we want to do so well and we know we can do well,” Webster said. “We’re just trying to work together as a team to show how good we can actually be.”

Elliot said working together as a unit is vital for the team and that it make take time for them to reach their full potential.

“They’re learning how to fight together,” Elliott said. “On paper we look pretty good, but we have to learn how to create an identity.”

Printed on Friday, August 26, 2011 as: Elliott's Horns have talent, experienced.