Aug. 12, 2010

Courtesy of Big 12 Sports

Nebraska has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2010 Big 12 volleyball title in a vote of the Conference's head coaches. It marks the 12th time the Huskers have finished on top in the league preseason poll, including a streak from 1997-2007.

NU received nine of the possible 11 first-place votes, while tallying 98 points overall.  Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.

In 2009, the Huskers (26-7) advanced to the NCAA Volleyball Championship Omaha Regional final before falling to Big 12 champion Texas. NU also was ranked in the top 10 of the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll each week last season. Nebraska welcomes back six starters in 2010, including All-Americans Sydney Anderson, Brooke Delano and Tara Mueller. In addition to Anderson and Mueller, fellow seniors Kayla Banwarth and Lindsey Licht will be relied upon to lead the Husker attack. Overall, the team returns 12 letterwinners from last season. Lauren Cook, the 2009 AVCA National Freshman of the Year, also transferred to Nebraska from UCLA. NU has claimed 11 Big 12 titles (1996, '98-2002, '04-08) and two national championships (2000, '06) in the league's 15-year tenure.

Texas, the defending national runner-up, was second behind NU with 91 points and two first-place votes. Iowa State, Oklahoma and Missouri rounded out the top five, while Baylor, Texas A&M and Kansas followed, respectively. Filling the final three spots were Kansas State, Texas Tech and Colorado.

Juliann Faucette (Texas) has been named the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year. She is a three-time All-Big 12 first-team honoree who averaged 3.59 points, 3.08 kills and 1.80 digs in league action last season. In Faucette's tenure as a Longhorn, Texas has advanced to three straight NCAA Championship regionals, played in the last two national semifinals and made its first appearance in the NCAA final since 1995. Faucette, a San Diego native, has also earned AVCA All-America accolades twice (2007 - first team; '09 - third team) During her rookie campaign she was tabbed the national and conference freshman of the year.

Justine Young is the Preseason Newcomer of the Year after transferring from Des Moines Area Community College to Texas Tech. She was ranked as the top junior college middle blocker at  the Division II level. Young earned first-team all-conference, all-district and all-region recognition.  Nationally, Young was an honorable mention All-America pick and her team finished the 2009 season ranked fifth. The Sacramento, Calif.-middle blocker/outside hitter participated in the 2008 National Volleyball Qualifier in Indianapolis, Ind.

The 2010 Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year, Molly Kreklow (Missouri), guided the USA Volleyball Junior National Team to a North American, Central American and Caribbean Continental Championship in July. A 6-0 setter, she started four of the five matches in the tournament and dished out 61 assists while helping Team USA to a perfect 5-0 record. This marked her third stint with USA Volleyball as she garnered Junior Olympic All-Tournament Team honors in 2007 and '08. During her prep career, Kreklow was a two-time AAU All-American (2008, '09) with her teams capturing three national championships (2007-09). She was selected an AVCA/Under Armour High School All-American in 2009.

Big 12 teams open the season the weekend of Aug. 27, while conference action is slated to begin on Sept. 15.

PRESEASON POLL

Rank     Team (First-place votes)     Points

1.     Nebraska (9)     98
2.     Texas (2)     91
3.     Iowa State     84
4.     Oklahoma     65
5.     Missouri     63
6.     Baylor     52
7.     Texas A&M     48
8.     Kansas     38
9.     Kansas State     37
10.     Texas Tech     15
11.     Colorado     14

PRESEASON ALL-BIG 12 AWARDS


      
Preseason Player of the Year:     Juliann Faucette, Texas -- OH, 6-2, San Diego, Calif./Westview
Preseason Newcomer of the Year:     Justine Young, Texas Tech -- MB/OH, Jr., 6-1, Sacramento, Calif./Des Moines Area CC
Preseason Freshman of the Year:     Molly Kreklow, Missouri -- S, 6-0, Delano, Minn./Delano