Emory Tops 2009 AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll


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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Defending national champion Emory University has been dubbed "the team to beat" in 2009, according to the AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll released Wednesday afternoon by the organization's headquarters. The Eagles picked up 20 of a possible 24 first-place votes for a total of 595 points, 40 points ahead of the second-place vote-getter.

Emory looks to join the repeat title-holder crowd, as head coach Jenny McDowell brings back an experienced group of student-athletes after turning in a 35-6 record in 2008. Taking charge of the Eagle attack will be senior AVCA First-Team All-American outside hitter Alysse Meyer. Joining Meyer will be 11 other letterwinners, including sophomore setter Natalie Schonefeld, an AVCA Second-Team All-American last season, and sophomore middle blocker Alexandra Wright, who was voted onto the 2008 NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team.

No stranger to the national spotlight, perennial power Juniata College begins 2009 in the poll's No. 2 spot. Head coach Larry Bock's squad, fresh off a 35-5 campaign and an appearance in the NCAA semifinals, will see three starters and 11 letterwinners return to the court. The Eagles boast a pair of returning AVCA Second-Team All-Americans in senior Megan Sollenberger (libero) and junior Steph Strauss (setter) and will also be aided by senior outside hitter Michelle Morchesky.

Ringing in the new season as the No. 3 tally-grabber is the University of La Verne, as the 2008 national-runner up Leopards aim to bring home a Division III title after posting a 27-3 record in their last campaign. First-year mentor Marlon Sano welcomes five starters and the libero back to his lineup and will be keyed by senior AVCA First-Team All-American Crista Jones in the middle blocker position. Also packing a punch to the Leopards' offense will be junior rightside/opposite Anna Calmer, senior middle blocker Ashley Morgado and senior setter Yesenia Lopez, all of which garnered SCIAC honors last fall.

Snagging the No. 4 ranking this preseason is the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, after running up an impressive 40-3 record and earning a spot in the NCAA quarterfinals in 2008. Taskmaster Brian Schaefer's roster is loaded with experience, as all six starters, the libero and 12 total letterwinners are back for another go-around. Leading the way will be junior libero Christina Cahoon, a First-Team AVCA All-America honoree last season and AVCA Second-Team All-American middle blocker Jacque Ray, a senior.

Rounding out the AVCA poll's top-five is another familiar face, Washington University in St. Louis. The Bears, guided by veteran mentor Rich Luenemann, return three starters, their libero and 11 letterwinners from a campaign that saw them produce a 32-7 record and make a showing in the NCAA regional finals. The Wash U. attack will be spearheaded by AVCA Third-Team All-American senior middle blocker Erin Albers and middle blocker/outside hitter Erin Kasson, an AVCA Honorable Mention All-America selection.


To view this year's complete AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll, click here.

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