HIGH POINT, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College women’s volleyball team has been voted the 2010 Conference Carolinas preseason favorite by league head coaches. The Lady Bobcats won the 2009 regular season with a 29-6 overall and 17-1 league record and took the conference tournament championship, giving them 10 of the last 11 conference tournament titles. They earned a bid into the NCAA Tournament but fell in five sets to Flagler in the first round. Pfeiffer University placed in second with three first place votes while Limestone rounds out the top three.
The cornerstone for the Lady Bobcats this season will be middle blocker, Whitney Justice, who was named Conference Carolinas First-Team, Conference Carolinas Tournament MVP, First-Team All-Southeast Region and Honorable Mention All-American Honoree in 2009. The Lady Bobcats will also feature key returners, setter Megan Mitchell, outside hitters Megan Epperson and Taylor Clendenin, opposite hitters Lauren Hall, Taylor Stice and Meme Brown. Epperson, who was the 2008 Freshman of the Year, joined Mitchell on last year’s All-Conference Second-Team.
Pfeiffer volleyball comes in at number two in this year’s preseason poll as voted on by league head coaches. For the third consecutive year, Pfeiffer crossed the 20-win plateau in a 21-12 season in 2009 (18-3 league record). The Lady Falcons completed their 2009 season by going down 0-2 early in the Conference Tournament semifinals before battling back to push a fifth and final game, only to fall to Limestone 3-2.
The Lady Falcons return two of the three team leaders in kills from a year ago in Kristina Mordini and Jordan O’Bryant. Mordini, a Second-Team All-Conference member, paced Pfeiffer with 292 kills playing in all 33 matches. O’Bryant, logging time in 31 contests, finished with 214. Outside hitter Abbie Ovbey, an All-Tournament team selection, and libero Kaci Markham return after 361 digs last year. Pfeiffer returns all but three from last year’s young squad and will count on a freshman impact from newcomers Ashlee Panzer, Milana Mervosh, Anna Vizvary, Kasey Cain and Kim Amerell. The Lady Falcons departed with senior leader and school multi-record holder Brittany Dickens.
Limestone College, who finished 2009 with an overall record of 21-15 and 13-5 in league play, rounds out the top three selections in the coaches’ poll. The Saints enter the 2010 campaign having reloaded on the offensive end following the graduation of their top three hitters. They do return the fuel for their offense in junior setters Danielle Seibert and Laura Kerrison. Last season Seibert led the team with an average of 5.37 assists and added 2.07 digs and 0.42 blocks per set while Kerrison posted marks of 5.04 assists to go along with 2.44 digs.
Defensively, senior middle hitter Sam Johnson is back following a season in which she was third on the team with 0.58 blocks per set and contributed 0.92 kills. She is second among returners in kills per set last year as junior outside hitter Holli Dawson leads that group with 1.77 from a year ago.
Rounding out the poll 4-11 was: Mount Olive, Erskine, Belmont Abbey, Barton, Queens, Converse, and Coker respectively.
Conference Carolinas Women’s Volleyball Preseason Poll (# of First Place Votes in Parenthesis)