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Volleyball is a good candidate for the next University of Texas NCAA title

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While the Texas Longhorn football team begins the process of attempting to return to national prominence under new head coach Charlie Strong, perhaps the most recent Longhorn threat to become a national dynasty will return to action on April 5 in Houston.

On Friday, the University of Texas announced the beginning of the upcoming volleyball season.

UT basketball and baseball are both back in the national rankings after lackluster years in 2013. UT volleyball, however, has been in the thick of the national title race for some time now.

The Texas volleyball team first appeared in NCAA Final Four in 1986 and 1987 before winning their first National Championship in 1988. More recently, the Lady Horns began a series of Final Four appearances in 2008-2010 and won their second title in 2012. Texas was ranked #1 and the top seed heading into the NCAA tournament last year and again returned to the Final Four but was upset by Wisconsin in the semi-finals and failed to reach the title game to face Penn State, a team they had beaten during the regular season.

Fortunately Texas is only losing one starter from last year’s squad and the 2014 team welcomes back the other five, including two-time All-American and Big 12 Conference Player of the Year Haley Eckerman, All-America honorable mention middle blockers Khat Bell and Molly McCage, and up-and-coming juniors Kat Brooks and Amy Neal.

Eventual national champ Penn State ended the regular season ranked #2 may compete for the top spot in the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association rankings but unlike the Longhorns, the Nittany Lions are losing three senior starters and during Penn State’s 28-2 regular season last year, one of the only two losses was to Texas.

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