AVCA Announces Divisions I, II, and III Preseason Polls
To view the complete AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll, click here.
Lexington, Ky. (August 19, 2010) - Washington University in St. Louis begins the 2010 volleyball season in the same position in which it exited last year - as the No. 1 team in the AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Poll, it was announced this afternoon by the AVCA headquarters.
The defending national champion Bears, led by veteran mentor Rich Luenemann, snagged all 24 first-place votes in the poll after rolling through 2009 with a 34-4 record. Wash U returns five starters and its libero from that squad, led by setter Marilee Fisher, a 2009 AVCA Second-Team All-America pick and libero Kelly Pang, who was the 2009 AVCA Division III National Freshman of the Year. Also back is middle blocker Lauren Budde, the 2009 NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
Giving chase to Washington-St. Louis is another perennial Division III power, Juniata College, who enters the season as the No. 2 team in the rankings. Taskmaster Larry Bock's Eagles ended the 2009 campaign with a 36-4 record, the Landmark Conference Championship and were the NCAA National Runners-Up. The program welcomes five starters back in 2010, and will be led by two-time AVCA All-American setter Steph Strauss. Joining Strauss is middle blocker Kelsey Fuller, the 2009 AVCA Mid-Atlantic Region Freshman of the Year, 2009 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Most Outstanding Player Amanda Schmidt at middle blocker and outside hitter Drew Barnhart, a member of the 2009 NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team.
Coming in at No. 3 in the poll is Emory University, a program that finished 2009 with a 34-6 record, securing the University Athletic Association (UAA) title and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Jenny McDowell has four starters and 15 total letterwinners coming back to campus, and will look to a pair of AVCA First-Team All-Americans in Natalie Schonefeld (setter) and Jessica McAlvany (outside hitter) to propel the squad to another berth in the NCAA postseason. Also aiding the cause will be veterans Amelia McCall (outside hitter) and Alexandra Wright, both all-conference selections a season ago.
Hope College rings in the new season right where it left off in 2009 - as the No. 4 vote-getter in the rankings. Head coach Becky Schmidt's Flying Dutch advanced to the NCAA semifinals in a year ago, ending the campaign with a 34-4 record and a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) championship. Leading the four returning starters and ten letterwinners will be couple of 2009 AVCA Honorable Mention All-America selections in outside hitter/middle blocker Jacie Fiedler and middle blocker Kara VandeGuchte, while all-conference right side hitter Cassidy Bulthuis also returns.
After reaching the NCAA quarterfinals a season ago, ending the year as the seventh-ranked team in the country, Colorado College debuts 2010 as the poll's No. 5 squad. Floor general Rick Swan, after directing the team to a 35-5 record in 2009, will return his entire starting lineup to the court, including his libero, in a quest to send the Tigers back to the NCAA postseason. Leading the charge will be 2009 AVCA First-Team All-American middle blocker Emily Perkins. Right side hitter Meredith Ballard and setter Amy Schornack, both AVCA Honorable Mention All-America picks last season, will also add fuel to the Tigers' fire.
Rounding out the poll's top-ten are the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Carthage College, the University of St. Thomas (Minn.), Calvin College and Ohio Northern University.
To view the complete AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll, click here.
Lexington, Ky. (August 18, 2010) - Three-time defending national champion Concordia University, St. Paul has once again been pegged as the program to beat, with the Golden Bears being voted the No. 1 team in the 2010 AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll, as announced by the AVCA headquarters this afternoon.
Concordia-St. Paul, under the direction of Brady Starkey, reeled off its third straight national title last year after turning in a perfect 37-0 record, extending its NCAA Division II record 74-match win streak along the way. Despite losing setter Maggie McNamara, who was twice named the AVCA Division II National Player of the Year, the Golden Bears weren't left shorthanded as the squad returns four starters and eight total letterwinners. Leading the charge will be middle blocker Emily Palkert, a two-time AVCA First-Team All-America selection and 2009 AVCA Second-Team All-American outside hitter Megan Carlson.
Registering at No. 2 in the poll is another familiar face in the world of the Division II elite. Head coach Kim Cherniss's Cal State San Bernardino squad is fresh off another visit to the NCAA semifinals after rolling through 2009 with a 33-2 record and another California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) title under its belt. The Coyotes welcome four starters, their libero and 13 letterwinners to the court in 2010, headlined by 2009 AVCA First-Team All-American outside hitter Jane Chafeh and 2009 AVCA Second-Team All-America honoree Samantha Middleborn at middle blocker.
The University of Tampa debuts the 2010 season in the poll's third spot, as veteran mentor Chris Catanach prepares his team for another berth in the NCAA Championships. The Spartans were 31-3 a year ago, earned a share of the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) title and finished the campaign as the fourth-ranked team in the nation. Tampa returns its entire starting lineup to the floor, including its libero, and will be led by a trio of AVCA All-Americans - Melissa Vanderhall (outside hitter), Kaleigh Cunningham (outside hitter) and Meghan Sherman (setter).
Coming in at No. 4 in the rankings is the University of Indianapolis, after ending 2009 with one of the best campaigns in program history. One season after AVCA Division II National Coach of the Year Jody Butera guided her squad to a 38-2 record, a Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) title, a spot in the NCAA quarterfinals and a final national ranking of No. 6, the Greyhounds will have six starters and nine letterwinners back for another go-around. Spearheading the attack will be 2009 AVCA First-Team All-American setter Cheneta Morrison, while outside hitter Lyndsay Callahan, an AVCA All-America Honorable Mention selection a year ago, also returns.
The University of Central Missouri enters the season where it ended the 2009 campaign - as the poll's fifth-ranked team. Last year, the Jennies, with the guidance of taskmaster Flip Piontek, won their first Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) title since 2000, advanced to the NCAA regional finals and ended the season with a 34-5 mark. Back are five starters, the libero and 11 total letterwinners from that squad, including a pair of AVCA All-America Honorable mention honorees - Allie Huffman at outside hitter and Rachel Fister at libero.
Rounding out the preseason top-ten are Washburn University, West Texas A&M University, UC San Diego, the University of Minnesota Duluth and the Metropolitan State College of Denver.
To view the complete AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll, click here.
Lexington, Ky. (August 17, 2010) - Three-time defending national champion Penn State University finds itself in a familiar position, as the Nittany Lions have been voted the top team in the AVCA Divison I Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll, announced by the AVCA headquarters this afternoon.
Despite losing 2009 AVCA Division I National Player of the Year Megan Hodge at the outside hitter position and three-time AVCA All-American setter Alisha Glass, PSU will return a solid core to the court in 2010, anchored by a pair of two-time AVCA All-Americans in right side hitter Blair Brown and middle blocker Arielle Wilson. Russ Rose's talented roster features 11 returning letterwinners from a squad that went 38-0, captured its seventh consecutive Big Ten championship, won its third straight national title and extended its NCAA record win-streak to 102 matches in 2009.
The University of Nebraska, coming off a 26-7 mark and a final ranking of No. 5 a season ago, rings in 2010 as the nation's No. 2 vote-getter. Task master John Cook returns five starters and his libero to the court after the squad advanced to the NCAA Regional final in 2009. Leading the way will be a trio of AVCA All-Americans, including Sydney Anderson at setter, Brooke Delano at middle blocker and Tara Mueller at outside hitter. Add transfer Lauren Cook (setter), the 2009 AVCA Division I National Freshman of the Year, to the mix and the Huskers should have the ingredients for a deep postseason push.
The Longhorns of The University of Texas debut 2010 in the third spot on the coaches poll after ending the 2009 campaign as the national runners-up with a 29-2 overall record. Signal-caller Jerritt Elliott welcomes back four starters and nine total letterwinners to the sidelines for a new go-around and will look to the services of two-time AVCA All-American outside hitter Juliann Faucette to lead the offensive attack. Also back is setter Michelle Kocher and middle blockers Rachael Adams and Jennifer Doris.
Coming in fourth in the preseason poll is John Dunning's Stanford University program, after ending 2009 with a 23-8 record, the Pac-10 championship and a final ranking of No. 7. With five starters, the libero and eight total letterwinners back for a new season, the Cardinal look to be a serious contender yet again. Three-time AVCA All-American outside hitter Alix Klineman will lead the march in 2010 and will be aided by 2009 AVCA First-Team All-American Cassidy Lichtman at setter and Stanford's career digs leader Gabi Ailes at libero.
Sitting in the No. 5 spot is the University of Hawai'i, as veteran coach Dave Shoji's Rainbow Wahine return three starters, the libero and seven letterwinners back from last season which saw the team turn in a 32-3 record, capture the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championship and secure a spot in the NCAA national semifinals. Leading the pack will be outside hitter Kanani Danielson, a two-time AVCA All-American, while setter Dani Mafua, an AVCA Honorable Mention All-America selection in 2009 is back to direct the offense.
Rounding out the top-ten are the University of Illinois and the University of Minnesota, who are in a tie for No. 6, followed by the University of Washington, Iowa State University and the University of Southern California.
The Division I volleyball season kicks off next weekend, with four of the poll's top-15 teams - Nebraska, Iowa State, Florida and Kentucky - clashing in the Runza/AVCA College Volleyball Showcase. The event, held at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb. on August 28 and 29, will pit the Big 12 against the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in a conference challenge format. Matches will be televised live on CBS College Sports Network, and tickets are available through Ticketmaster and the Qwest Center box office.