MOC volleyball ranked 6th in preseason Conference Carolinas poll
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 30, 2013 1:57 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- "We'll take sixth place."
But don't think Mount Olive College hasn't set its sights higher on the Conference Carolinas women's volleyball scene this season. The Trojans were picked sixth in the preseason coaches poll -- just one point out of fifth, which is occupied by 13-time league champion Lees-McRae.
"I think sixth place is a good start for us," second-year MOC head coach Sarah Lusk said. "We weren't that far behind getting voted fourth or fifth place."
One year after its historic run, Belmont Abbey is tabbed to repeat as conference champion. The Crusaders advanced to semifinal-round play in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional and return their top three offensive players -- Hannah and Lydia Schellenberg and middle hitter Caitlin Hankins. Hankins amassed 228 kills.
Seven players graduated, but Erskine (S.C.) College remains the coaches' choice to take third place overall. The Flying Fleet return their top top two hitters -- Caitlin Bullock and Kelly Sullivan. Bullock ranked among the league's top seven in kills per set and overall kills. Sullivan led the team in service aces and blocks.
North Greenville was picked fourth. Limestone was selected seventh behind L-MC and MOC. Barton, Pfeiffer University and Converse (S.C.) College rounded out the 10-team poll.
There is no divisional play this season.
"I think the conference is up for grabs this year," Lusk said. "With new coaches and key teams losing some big players, I think we have a great shot this year."
MOC returns seven full- or part-time starters off last year's team that posted nine wins. Six-foot-4 senior middle blocker Carly White averaged 2.93 kills per set, one block per set and logged a .335 hitting percentage last season.
Also back are setter Nicole Karas, defensive specialist Charnel Austin and libero Nicole Sparks. Returning front-row starters are Lauren Lee, Dezirae Mackey and Sarah Robertson.
"Our seniors are very focused and have great goals in mind they would like to reach," Lusk said. "Our freshman class has the eagerness to get on the court and their athleticism alone has made an impact on the team. Along with the sophomore and junior class, all of them had playing time last year."
The Trojans open the season Sept. 6 at the Francis Marion Invitational. They will play in-state foe Mars Hill, USC Aiken, Newberry and host FMU within a two-day period.
MOC opens its home schedule Sept. 13-14 with the annual Mount Olive College Invitational.
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