Concordia-St. Paul Reigns Supreme in 2010 AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll
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.