01/09/13 — Trojans tabbed to claim Conference Carolinas championship

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Trojans tabbed to claim Conference Carolinas championship

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 9, 2013 1:47 PM

Before we delve into the analysis of the 2013 Conference Carolinas men's volleyball race, let's take a minute to review who's actually participating this season.

Archrivals Mount Olive and Lees-McRae fielded club volleyball teams long before Conference Carolinas officials tagged it an "emerging sport."

Then Limestone, King (Tenn.) and Pfeiffer joined the fray.

Three years later, the conference has grown to nine teams.

All of the turnover has created several changes, including a four-team conference tournament and a chance to play into the 2015 NCAA men's volleyball championship.

So, who's gonna win this thing?

Conference Carolina coaches have tabbed Mount Olive, which returns five full- or part-time starters, including two all-Conference Carolinas outside hitters -- Adam Miracle and Angel Dache. Dache missed all of 2012 with an injury. The Trojans received four of nine first-place votes and collected 60 points.

Mount Olive won 12 of its final 14 matches and finished runner-up to Pfeiffer in the conference tournament a year ago.

"I feel like this team has a lot of unfinished business," first-year MOC head coach David Heller said. "There are a lot of goals out there that I have set for this team that are attainable. I want to us when the conference title as well as the conference tournament.

"I would love to see us get recognized in the AVCA (national) poll. These are all things that leave the players hungry to reach that next level and compete on the national stage, not just within Conference Carolinas."

Pfeiffer, coming off a record-setting season, drew three first-place nods and earned five less points than the Trojans. The Falcons bring back Caleb Brophy, an all-conference performer who ranked among the top five eight different league categories last season.

Also back are defensive specialist Mark Hess and setter David Specian. Hess recorded 220 digs and Specian handed out 10.84 assists per set.

Limestone returns its entire team, but managed to collect just two first-place votes and 53 points. Four players -- Scott Warren, Kevin Hart, Joe Gilliland and Derek Daley -- grabbed either first- or second-team all-conference accolades.

Warren is the reigning Conference Carolinas player-of-the-year.

Lees-McRae garnered 42 points, two ahead of fifth-place finisher King. Belmont Abbey, Coker, Barton and Erskine rounded out the preseason poll. Belmont Abbey, Coker and Erskine are in their respective first seasons.