Concordia-St. Paul tops CBS College Sports Network/AVCA Poll


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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Defending NCAA Division II Champion Concordia University-St. Paul topped the 2008 preseason CBS College Sports Network/AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Poll, it was announced Tuesday. The Golden Bears, who received 35 out of a possible 36 first-place votes, return five starters from last year's squad, led by AVCA First-Team All-America setter Maggie McNamara. Also coming back for Brady Starkey is AVCA National Freshman of the Year Emily Palkert, as well as AVCA Third-Team All-America honoree Maria Steinhagen. The Golden Bears finished 36-4 a year ago.

Coming in at No. 2 is Washburn University, fresh off a record-setting 2007 season, which saw them advance all the way to the NCAA Division II national semifinals. Chris Herron's squad finished last year ranked No. 3, the highest ranking in the team's history. This year's team returns four starters, highlighted by AVCA Second-Team All-American Monica Miesner.

Truman starts the year at No. 3, coming off a 36-6 campaign a year ago. The Bulldogs return five starters from 2007, including AVCA All-Americans Allie Cherven (Second-Team) and Melissa Keck (Third-Team). This marks the 72nd consecutive poll in which Truman is ranked in the top 10.

Cal State San Bernardino comes in at No. 4 in the preseason poll. The Coyotes spent eight weeks in 2007 ranked either first or second, and will try to return to that lofty spot with the help of five returning starters. Jessica Granados, an AVCA First-Team All-American last season, anchors a squad that also features returning AVCA Third-Team All-American setter Sara Hoffman.

Rounding out the top five is West Texas A&M, who closed out last season strong with a trip to the national semifinals before falling to eventual national champion Concordia-St. Paul. The Lady Buffs return all six starters from last year's team, including AVCA honorable mention honoree Katie Rickwartz. The No. 5 ranking is the highest for coach Tony Graystone's team since it held the top spot in 2002.

The other first place vote went to defending national runner-up Western Washington, who begins the season ranked No. 10.

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