Twenty-eight Big 12 volleyball matches are on tap for the opening weekend of the 2013 season. All nine league teams start the season on the road. The Conference season kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 25.
Defending national champion Texas opens the 2013 campaign as the AVCA preseason No. 1. UT is one of five league teams ranked or receiving votes as Iowa State checks in at No. 15 and Kansas opens the season at No. 20. Kansas State and Oklahoma are receiving votes. Big 12 volleyball teams have tallied 50 preseason top 25 selections since 1996. The No. 1 ranking by the Longhorns marks the fifth time a Big 12 team has opened a season with the top spot in the national rankings. This is also the first time in program history that the Jayhawks have earned a preseason ranking.
In 2012, Texas (29-4) claimed the NCAA Division I National Championship with a 3-0 win (25-11, 26-24, 25-19) over No. 5 national seed Oregon (30-5) at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. It marked the second national title for the Longhorns (1988), who finished the season winning 23 of their last 24 matches, recorded 22 sweeps, and hit .438 in the championship match - a three-set championship finale record.
Last season marked the fourth straight year five or more Big 12 teams earned bids to the NCAA postseason event. The league has sent at least five teams to the tournament in all but one season. Along with Texas, Iowa State, Kansas, K-State and Oklahoma made last year’s field.
Iowa State and Texas finished 2012 undefeated at home in league play. The feat has been achieved on 20 total occasions, including six other times by Texas. Last year marked the third season (2005, ‘07) that multiple teams have been perfect in conference play at home.
UT was unanimously selected to win the league’s regular season crown in a preseason vote by the Conference’s head coaches. Reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Haley Eckerman was tabbed as the Preseason Player of the Year, while K-State’s Katie Brand and Texas Tech’s Victoria Hinneburg share the Preseason Freshman of the Year honor. Iowa State, Kansas and Texas each placed three members on the 2013 Big 12 Preseason Team.
Kristen Hahn (Iowa State) and Haley Eckerman (Texas) enter the year with 12 career Big 12 weekly awards. Hahn has amassed all 12 in the Defensive Player of the Week category, including eight last season. The pair is tied for third-most career awards all-time, three shy of ISU’s Ashley Mass’ record of 15.
Kansas State’s Kaitylnn Pelger opens the season as the league’s active career leader in kills, attack attempts and service aces. Sallie McLaurin (OU) is the active leader for blocks and block assists.