Highly ranked women’s volleyball to face off against Sooners


Nathan Goldsmith

Texas will begin its defense of the Big 12 conference crown on Saturday as it hosts rival Oklahoma. The Longhorns are 38-3 all time against the Sooners.

Sara Beth Purdy

At the beginning of the season, the No. 9 Longhorns were picked to finish, once again, at the top of the Big 12 conference.

Despite having already played fellow conference member West Virginia in September, the path to the 2012 Big 12 crown really begins Saturday night against long time rivals Oklahoma at home.

Texas is 8-3 in the season and 1-0 against Big 12 conference opponents this season. In its first conference game, Texas swept Big 12 newcomer West Virginia on the road Aug. 29. The Longhorns were picked as unanimous preseason favorites to win the conference. Oklahoma, who beat Kansas State earlier in the year, is the only other team with a win in Big 12 play this season.

The Longhorns lead the all-time series against Oklahoma with a record of 38-3. Last season the Longhorns went 1-1 against the Sooners. The Sooners won their first meeting against the Longhorns in five sets — Texas’ only loss in Big 12 play last year — before the Longhorns beat the Sooners when they visited Austin last November with a 3-1 win.

The Sooners come to Gregory Gym unranked but with an impressive 12-3 record on the season and a 1-0 Big 12 conference record. The Sooners are fresh off of their upset sweep over No. 11 Kansas State in their 2012 conference opener. They are riding a six-game win streak, the last five of which were three-set sweeps.

“Oklahoma is playing very well right now,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said.

Freshman Oklahoma setter Julia Doyle has given Sooner fans a lot to talk about this season. Against Kansas State, Doyle totaled five service aces, a personal best.

Another Sooner to watch out for Saturday is junior Sallie McLaurin, who earned an honorable mention spot on last season’s All-American team. McLaurin was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year last year and led the Big 12 in blocks at 1.37 per set, with 25 solo and 137 block assists on the season.

Currently Texas is second in the country in blocking, having notched 3.16 blocks per set. This week sophomore Haley Eckerman rose to seventh in the nation for points per set at 5.27. Eckerman has 166 kills on the season and is hitting .288.

Saturday’s match against Oklahoma will also feature this year’s Texas Traditions Day. Fans will get to take pictures with iconic Texas figures such as Bevo, Big Bertha, Texas Cheer and Pom. Texas Traditions Day will begin at 4 p.m. in Gregory Gym, and the game will begin at 5 p.m.