Hopper Earns Preseason Volleyball All-SAC Accolades


ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) -- Catawba junior hitter Alex Hopper (Madison, N.C./McMichael HS) has been named to the South Atlantic Conference Preseason All-Conference team as a second team selection.  The Catawba Indians were tabbed to finish eighth in the preseason coach’s poll and received one first place vote.  The preseason all-conference teams and poll were released by the conference office on Wednesday.

Wingate was once again picked to win the 2015 SAC Volleyball crown.  The Bulldogs won their ninth-straight SAC Volleyball title and claimed their third-straight NCAA Southeast Regional Championship during the 2014 season.  The Bulldogs turned in a 34-3 overall record and a 21-1 SAC record a season ago.  Wingate, who is ranked No. 16 in the AVCA Preseason Top 25, picked up 10 first-place votes and 131 points from the panel as member institutions aren’t allowed to vote for their own teams.

Lenoir-Rhyne notched 111 points to place second in the poll, followed by Tusculum who notched 100 points.  The Bears earned an at-large bid to the 2014 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship after closing out the season at 22-10 overall and 15-7 in South Atlantic Conference action.  Tusculum finished up its 2014 season at 16-15 overall and 15-7 in the League.

Carson-Newman came in at No. 4 in the voting with 96 points and one top bid, ahead of Lincoln Memorial who picked up 91 points.  The Eagles closed out its 2014 season with a 27-7 overall mark and a 20-2 record in the South Atlantic Conference.  Last season Carson-Newman handed Wingate just its third Conference loss since the 2007 season as it snapped a 55 game SAC winning streak.  The Eagles advanced to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large pick and advanced to the 2014 regional semifinals.

The Railsplitters ended their 2014 campaign at 16-15 overall and 12-10 in Conference action.  At No. 6 was Anderson, who received 78 points and at No. 7 was Newberry with 69 points.  Anderson, the 2014 South Atlantic Conference Tournament Runner-Up, went 25-9 overall and 16-6 in the League in 2014.  The Trojans also earned an at-large bid to the 2014 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship.  The Wolves turned in a 15-16 overall record and a 9-13 record in SAC play.

Catawba and Queens finished tied for No. 8 in the poll.  Catawba, who picked up one first-place vote, and Queens finished with 65 points each.  Mars Hill (61 points), Brevard (32 points) and Coker (25 points) rounded out the list.

Hopper led Catawba with 189 kills last season.  She missed the final five games of the season with a knee injury.  The injury came one game following her career-high 27 kill match against Mars Hill.  Hopper posted double-digits in kills during 10 matches last year and had a pair of double-doubles. 

Wingate All-American Abby Saehler highlights the first team as she finished the season with 105 blocks, 0.92 blocks per set, a .371 hitting percentage and 2.93 kills per set.  Teammate Shelly Stumpff joined Saehler of the first team after she earned All-Region honors in 2014.  Stumpff led the SAC a season ago with 69 aces and was third in the League with 3.35 kills per set.

Teammates Katie Bludau and Kori Adams wrapped of the list of first team selections for the Bulldogs.  Bludau closed her 2014 campaign with 166 kills, 84 digs, 18 blocks and seven aces, while Adams came away with 446 digs, 3.54 digs per set and 35 aces.

Mars Hill outside hitter Mary Kate Griffen earned first-team preseason honors after posting 331 kills, 58 aces and 2.35 digs per set in 2014.

Keira Holland represented Lincoln Memorial on the first-team as she turned in 347 kills, 21 aces and 2.61 digs per set in 2014.

Lenoir-Rhyne’s Briana Gottberg ranked No. 3 in the South Atlantic Conference in 2014 with 9.83 assists per set.  She totaled 1,180 assists and closed out the season with 29 aces to earn first-team preseason honors.

Laryssa Welch from Tusculum closed out the list of first-team honorees.  During the 2014 campaign, Welch led her squad with a .292 hitting percentage as she found the floor for 196 kills.  She also chipped in 52 digs and 49 blocks.

The 2015 South Atlantic Conference volleyball season gets underway Friday, Sept. 4.  Catawba will play in the Queens Invitational in Charlotte with matches against King and Mount Olive on Friday and GRU Augusta and Lander on Saturday.

2015 SAC Volleyball Preseason Poll
1. Wingate (10), 131
2. Lenoir-Rhyne, 111
3. Tusculum, 100
4. Carson-Newman (1), 96
5. Lincoln Memorial, 91
6. Anderson, 78
7. Newberry, 69
8t. Catawba (1), 65
8t. Queens, 65
10. Mars Hill, 61
11. Brevard, 32
12. Coker, 25

2015 Volleyball Preseason All-Conference
First Team
Shelly Stumpff, Wingate
Abby Saehler, Wingate
Mary Kate Griffin, Mars Hill
Kiera Holland, Lincoln Memorial
Briana Gottberg, Lenoir-Rhyne
Katie Bludau, Wingate
Kori Adams, Wingate
Laryssa Welch, Tusculum

Second Team
Rachel Garnett, Tusculum
Brooke Redmond, Lenoir-Rhyne
Rebecca Butler, Mars Hill
Priscilla Irizarry, Anderson
Elizabeth Bialkowski, Queens
Aleksandra Vrvilo, Brevard
Alex Hopper, Catawba
Taylor Lowe, Carson-Newman

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