The Texas Sports staff sat down and compiled a list of six Longhorns to watch this season. One freshman, three sophomores, a junior and a senior made the cut of some of the Texas athletes who are each expected to make an impact on the field or in the pool.
The Longhorns volleyball team is looking to defend their national title from 2012. The Longhorns feature the No.5-ranked incoming freshman class in the nation, and return 11 letter winners and five of their six starters.
One of them is Bailey Webster, the top-ranked prospect from the class of 2009, and she will be returning for her senior season at Texas.
The outside hitter was monumental in the Longhorns’ national title in 2012. Webster was named the 2012 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and if the Longhorns are successful in their repeat tour, look for Webster to be leading the way.
— Diego Contreras
Sophomore diver Meghan Houston, had success following her freshman year that shows her potential to make an impact for the Texas diving team this season.
In May, Houston teamed with University of Georgia diver Laura Ryan for the three-meter synchronized diving event at the 2013 Canada Cup, finishing sixth. The duo also placed seventh in the USA Diving Grand Prix. As part of placing second in the USA World Diving trials, Houston and Ryan qualified for the World University Games in July, where they took home the bronze medal.
— Brittany Lamas
Pilar Victoria Lopez
Incoming volleyball freshman Pilar Victoria Lopez is coming off a summer captaining the Puerto Rican U20 national team and will join the reigning national champions this fall as an outside hitter.
“She is a very smooth player that has the complete game. She has played at a very high level and her experience can help this team in 2013 and beyond,” said coach Jerritt Elliott when she signed with the Longhorns.
Lopez played for both the Junior National Team and Adult National team in Puerto Rico and was named the country’s top volleyball prospect in 2012.
— Brittany Lamas
As a freshman last year, Abby Smith was named All-Big 12 Second Team and was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer team. Smith, who had the large task of replacing Alexa Gaul as goalkeeper, finished with five regular-season shutouts, good for second in Texas history for a freshman. In the post-season, Smith posted two more shutouts, tying the rookie record at Texas.
At the start of the season, Smith missed the Longhorns’ first few games because she was playing with the U.S. U-20 World Cup Team. With experience under her belt, Smith will be crucial for the Longhorns.
— Sara Beth Purdy
As the only player left from Texas’ 2011 recruiting class and the team’s only upperclassman, Jonathan Holmes has shown loyalty to the program and will be asked to step up as the team’s leader. In 2012-2013, Holmes was one of the sole bright spots for a bad Texas team. He hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to send the first meeting against West Virginia into overtime and was piecing together a productive season until a broken hand at Oklahoma forced him to miss five games. He struggled in all 11 contests after returning, but should be healed and ready to help carry the offense come November.
— Drew Lieberman
After losing point guard Myck Kobongo to the NBA Draft and swingman Sheldon McClellan due to a transfer, the Longhorns will be looking for someone to fill the scoring void left behind.
Ioannis Papapetrou may be the candidate.
Papapetrou spent the last month of the summer playing for the Under-20 Greek national team, and led the team in scoring. He showed flashes in 2012, and if the Longhorns hope to move forward after a shaky season, Papapetrou will need to have a big year.
— Diego Contreras