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Volleyball Picked Ninth in SAC Preseason Poll

ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) -- Catawba was picked ninth in the 2014 South Atlantic Conference Volleyball Coaches Poll.  The poll and the preseason All-SAC teams were announced by the league office on Monday.  The Catawba Indians were just one point behind Carson-Newman in the poll. 

Wingate, eight time defending champions, were picked to win the crown.  The Bulldogs have won the last two Southeast Regional Championships and are coming off a 32-3 season with a perfect 22-0 SAC mark.  Wingate claimed 11 first-place votes as member institutions aren’t allowed to vote for their own teams.

Tusculum notched 99 points to place second in the poll, followed by Lincoln Memorial who notched 94 points.  The Pioneers earned an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Volleyball Championship after posting a 21-11 overall record and a 15-7 SAC mark.  The Railsplitters notched an 18-13 overall record and a 14-8 SAC record during the 2013 campaign.

Anderson came in at No. 4 in the voting with 90 points, ahead of Lenoir-Rhyne who picked up one top-bid and 89 points.  The Trojans, the 2013 SAC Volleyball Runner-Up, earned an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Volleyball Championship as a No. 5 seed and picked up a win over No. 4 seed Tusculum in the tournament.  Anderson closed out the 2013 season with a 19-15 overall record and a 14-8 record in the SAC.  The Bears finished their 2013 season with a 17-10 overall record and a 14-8 SAC record.

At No. 6 was Queens, who received 70 points and at No. 7 was Newberry with 62 points.  The Royals and Wolves each earned bids to the 2013 NCAA Volleyball Championship.  Queens went 17-12 overall and 14-8 in the SAC during the 2013 season.  Newberry closed out the 2013 season with an 18-13 overall record and a 12-10 record in the SAC.

Carson-Newman landed at No. 8 with 49 points, followed by Catawba with 48 points and Mars Hill with 38 points.  The Eagles posted a 12-17 overall record and a 7-15 Conference mark during the 2013 campaign, while Catawba finished at 4-20 overall and 4-18 in League play.  Mars Hill wrapped up its 2013 season with a 16-12 overall mark and a 13-9 South Atlantic Conference record.

Brevard’s 18 points from the panel was good for No. 11 and Coker rounds out the poll with 14 points.  The Tornados were 7-21 overall and 3-19 in the League, while Coker posted a 3-28 overall record and a 0-22 League record.

The preseason first and second teams were also announced today.  Wingate led the way with three on the first team, while Anderson had two players named to the first team.  Lincoln Memorial, Carson-Neman and Lenoir-Rhyne also posted one first-team selection.

Wingate All-Americans Alison Cooke and Lexi Potter were joined by teammate Susie Murach.  Cooke averaged nearly 10 assists per set as she turned in 9.37 aps last season, while Potter notched 111 blocks and 275 kills for the Bulldogs.  Murach totaled 256 kills for Wingate a season ago.  Potter has led the League in hitting percentage in each of her three seasons in the Navy and Gold.

Shannon Gillespie and Hailey Pittman represented the Trojans on the first team.  Gillespie ranked No. 15 in the nation with 4.05 kills per set and ranked No. 21 in the country with 4.45 points per set last season.  Her 526 kills last season was also good for tops in the League.  Pittman ranked No. 2 in the SAC with 426 kills and finished the year with 3.47 kills per set and a hitting percentage of .330.

Casey Mense of Lincoln Memorial earned her first team honor as she ranked No. 3 in the SAC with 5.19 digs per set.  She was also fourth in the League with 586 digs. 

Carson-Newman’s Rachel Harper and Lenoir-Rhyne’s Haley Rhyne rounded out the list of first team honorees.  Harper found the floor for 381 kills and 3.59 kills per set, while Rhyne posted 367 kills and 3.56 kills per set.

The 2014 South Atlantic Conference volleyball season gets underway Friday, Sept. 5.  Catawba opens play that day at the Queens Fall Invitational with its first opponent being Sioux Falls, S.D., at 10:30 a.m.

2014 Volleyball Preseason Poll
1. Wingate (11),  121
2. Tusculum, 99
3. Lincoln Memorial, 94
4. Anderson, 90
5. Lenoir-Rhyne (1), 89
6. Queens, 70
7. Newberry, 62
8. Carson-Newman, 49
9. Catawba, 48
10. Mars Hill, 38
11. Brevard, 18
12. Coker, 14

2014 Volleyball Preseason All-Conference
First Team
Alison Cooke, Wingate
Haley Rhyne, Lenoir-Rhyne
Lexi Potter, Wingate
Shannon Gillespie, Anderson
Hailey Pittman, Anderson
Susie Murach, Wingate
Rachel Harper, Carson-Newman
Casey Mense, Lincoln Memorial

Second Team
Briana Gottberg, Lenoir-Rhyne
Megan Hasse, Tusculum
Kristen Pickett, Carson-Newman
Alix Hooker, Anderson
Cory McGowan, Wingate
Mary Kate Griffen, Mars Hill
Stephanie Tassone, Wingate
(Tie) Logan Hayward, Newberry
(Tie) Elizabeth Bialkowski, Queens


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