08/28/12 — MOC women's volleyball team picked to finish 7th in preseason poll

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MOC women's volleyball team picked to finish 7th in preseason poll

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 28, 2012 1:48 PM

HIGH POINT -- Ho hum.

No surprise.

Lees-McRae is the preseason pick to win the 2012 Conference Carolinas women's volleyball championship. The Bobcats drew six first-place votes and collected 113 points.

Queens University of Charlotte received six first-place nods to dethrone L-MC, which has won 13 of the last 14 league crowns and been a regular fixture in the NCAA Division II tournament.

And Mount Olive, a former regular-season champ?

Well, the Trojans return 14 letter-winners from a year ago, but were predicted to finish seventh. Erskine, King (Tenn.), Limestone and in-state rival Belmont Abbey were selected to grab spots ahead of MOC, which takes the court with a new coach -- Sarah Lusk -- this fall.

Pfeiffer is tabbed eighth, followed by 2011 NCAA participant Coker, North Greenville, Barton and Converse.

"I am so excited for this year," Lusk said. "We have seven of our eight starters back from last year, plus some. And we also have some players who may not have started, but did see a lot of court time.

"We haven't really lost anything, but gained a whole lot as far as talent and skill. The IQ on the team has increased dramatically from last year."

Mount Olive logged a 16-14 worksheet that included a runner-up finish behind Queens in East Division play. There is no division format this season.

The Trojans open the season Friday against Newberry (S.C.) College at the Francis Marion (S.C.) University Invitational. The Trojans will also face USC Aiken, Mars Hill and FMU.

Lees-McRae has won 58 consecutive matches against Conference Carolinas opposition -- the second-longest active streak among Division II programs. Seniors Megan Mitchell, Taylor Clendenin and Dana Oliver return.

"We understand that it is not how you start, but how you finish," L-MC head coach James Goodridge said. "With this mindset, we will work hard to defend this preseason ranking and earn the top spot at the end of the season polls.

"This is not an easy task as the conference has gotten stronger each year that I have been here."

Queens graduated just three seniors off last year's team which established a school-record for regular-season wins (23) and conference wins (15). Libero Jocelyn Kellinger returns after recording a program-best 405 digs last season.

Erskine lost the league's player-of-the-year to graduation. But the Flying Fleet still has two senior defensive standouts -- libero Brooke Dodge and Bailey Thornton. Setter Larz Chabra, a three-time all-Conference Carolinas selection, will direct Erskine's attack.