Volleyball Ranked No. 3 in AVCA Division III Preseason Top-25 Poll
PRESEASON TOP-25 POLL
St. Louis, Mo., August 17, 2011 – The Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team is ranked as the No. 3 in the country in the 2011 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Preseason Top-25 Poll, it was announced Wednesday afternoon by the association.
Defending Division III national champion Calvin College received 23 first-place votes to earn the top-spot in the AVCA preseason poll, while Emory University picked up the other first-place vote to place second. Washington University (third), Christopher Newport University (fourth) and Wittenberg University (fifth) rounded out the top-five spots.
In addition to Washington University and Emory, fellow University Athletic Association (UAA) members New York University (21st) and the University of Chicago (25th) landed in the poll, with Case Western Reserve University receiving 17 points to finish just outside of the top-25 at No. 30.
Washington University head coach Rich Luenemann, who last season became just the fifth coach in NCAA history to eclipse 1,000-career victories, has once again put together one of the most challenging schedules in the country with the Bears slated to compete against 10 squads ranked in the AVCA poll.
In addition to the three teams from the UAA, Washington U. will face Christopher Newport, Juniata College (sixth), Eastern University (seventh), Carthage College (11th), Colorado College (13th), Concordia College-Moorhead (14th) and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (24th).
Washington University posted a 35-4 overall record last season and advanced to the NCAA Division III semifinals before falling to Emory, 3-1. The Bears posted an 8-3 mark against UAA competition, placing second in the conference.
The Bears return all six starters and their libero from last year’s squad, a group of players that includes five 2010 AVCA All-Americans. Junior setter Marilee Fisher and junior libero Kelly Pang were both first-team All-America selections last season, with senior middle hitter Lauren Budde garnering third-team honors and junior outside hitter Drew Hargrave and sophomore outside hitter Meghan Byrne picking up honorable mention honors.
Fisher led Division III in assists per set last year with a mark of 11.71, while Pang finished the year with 583 digs, the fourth-highest single-season total in school history. Budde, a six-rotation middle hitter led the Bears with 100 total blocks and finished second on the team in kills (417) and digs (363).
Byrne led Washington University with 419 kills last season while hitting a team-high .349 and Hargrave notched 377 kills, an average of 3.09 per set, with a .309 attack percentage.
Washington U. opens the 2011 season on Thursday, Sept. 1, when it hosts Culver-Stockton College and Harris-Stowe State University in a dual match doubleheader at the WU Field House beginning at 5:15 p.m.