Texas' 'B' squad is good enough to run the table in the Big 12.
At least, that’s what many of the Longhorn players believe.
No. 1 Texas has glided through its opening conference stretch with ease. The Longhorns (18-2, 11-0 Big 12) have won all 11 of their games, never even allowing a match to reach the fifth set.
Other than walk-on senior libero Megan Futch, every healthy Longhorn sees significant playing time and could probably start elsewhere in the conference.
But instead of wearing crimson or green, they don burnt orange. The bench players may not start, but that doesn’t mean everyone underestimates them.
“They definitely can,” senior setter Hannah Allison said.
Sophomore middle Molly McCage agrees.
“Honestly, I think they could,” McCage said.
With the ongoing mixing of the Texas lineup, there is no set 'B' squad. But on any given day, accounting for a few positions because of injury, the lineup could consist of freshman Pilar Victoria and sophomore Amy Neal as the outsides, freshman Chloe Collins as setter, sophomore Sara Hattis in the middle and sophomore Kat Brooks as libero.
But let’s take this one step further by putting that lineup in terms of accolades.
Victoria was named to the national team in Puerto Rico at the age of 16 and was her home country’s top volleyball prospect. Neal was the No. 18 overall recruit in the class of 2012 and the 2011 Texas Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year. Collins was a first-team All-American her senior year of high school. Hattis was the No. 9 recruit and New Mexico Player of the Year for volleyball. And Brooks was the starting libero for the top volleyball team in Hawaii.
If you give the Longhorns back their two injured players, sophomore do-it-all Nicole Dalton and junior outside Tiffany Baker, the “B” squad could be a top-10 team in the nation.
“It’s kind of crazy how competitive our gym can be,” Allison said. “Our B side continuously beats our A side. I don’t know what other team can say that.”
Head coach Jerritt Elliott doesn’t mind the surplus of talent.
“They are making decisions difficult for the staff,” Elliott said. “It’s a great dilemma for the coaching staff. Nobody’s job is safe in our gym.”
The talent keeps stockpiling, too. Elliott recently announced that libero Cat McCoy from Southlake and middle Mirta Baselovic from Croatia will join the Longhorns in 2014. McCoy is a first team All-American honoree. Baselovic is 6-feet-3-inches and has been on the Croatian junior national team for three years.
According to Texas, when the Longhorns travel to Lubbock Saturday for a 1 p.m. matchup with the Red Raiders, the two best squads in the Big 12 will be sitting on the same bench.
“We do have a really competitive gym,” McCage said. “But I think that’s what makes us No. 1 in the nation.”