Texas knows how vital its leadership is

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Senior libero Sydney Yogi will look to lead her young teamates to yet another final four in 2011.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

A lot of attention this season has been focused on the youth in the Longhorn’s squad. After four games, the team has proven it is ready to compete. But a team is not a team without leaders — and the seniors on the squad are prepared to do that. Rachael Adams, Sydney Yogi, Michelle Kocher and have been to three final fours in their three years in burnt orange. But now they plan to take Texas even farther.

“We have a very young team and what they need now is an example and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do,” Adams said. “Each day come in and take no days off and hopefully they can follow in my footsteps and work just
as hard.”

So far this season, Adams has not disappointed her teammates. In Sunday’s game against Israel, she had 11 kills on 14 error-free swings and hit .786. On Saturday’s game against Ole Miss, she had a career-best three service aces. A senior with vast experience, she’s leading by example.

“As a senior, I have to step up and lead the team,” Adams said. “I’ve had some great leaders who have came before me and they’ve done some great things and I’m trying to do that just like them.”

Adams said former Longhorn Juliann Faucette, who she was teamed with at the 2010 USA Volleyball Open National Championship, is an inspiration to her.

Junior Sha’Dare McNeal spoke of Adams’ importance.

“Rachael is a very competitive player,” McNeal said. “The things that she does, I’ve never seen any middle do before. I feel like everybody contributes something to the team and with her athleticism, it makes us a little more steady in the middle.”

Yogi, a libero, said the experience she and her fellow seniors have helps them with the underclassmen. In addition, the seniors understand and remember what it was like being new at Texas and to the volleyball program.

“It is a completely different game than high school or club,” Yogi said. “They come in and the first couple days of practice you can tell they are kind of shell-shocked as to the speed of the game and the intensity of practices.”

And that’s where the seniors come in.

“I think us four seniors have a lot more weight on our shoulders I think just because we have that experience,” Yogi said. “We have a lot of younger girls who are going to get significant playing time.”

Head coach Jerritt Elliott has been impressed with the leadership displayed by the upperclassmen. He believes the trait is vital to the Longhorns making another deep postseason run.

“At the end of the day our leadership is going to have to get there [to the National Championship] and we are going to have to execute when it’s crunch time,” he said.

Printed on Wednesday, August 31, 2011 as: Seniors provide leadership on, off court for young Texas squad.