Defending Champs Begin 2010 Season as Unanimous No. 1 Team
St. Louis, Mo., August 20, 2010 – The NCAA Division III defending national champion Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team will begin the 2010 season where it left off in 2009, on top. The Bears were the unanimous selection as the No. 1 team in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top-25 Poll, as announced by the organization.
Washington University received all 24 first-place votes for 600 points to begin the season ranked No. 1, followed by runner-up Juniata at No. 2. University Athletic Association (UAA) member Emory University checks in at No. 3, while Hope College and Colorado College round out the top five.
Washington University will face seven schools ranked in the preseason top-25, four of which landed in the top-10. When the Bears host the WU/Asics National Invitational on Fri.-Sat., Sept. 10-11, they will welcome four other top-20 teams: No. 7 Carthage University, No. 10 Ohio Northern University, No. 11 Wittenberg University and No. 19 St. Olaf College.
Head coach Rich Luenemann led Washington University to a 34-4 overall record in 2009, and captured the NCAA Division III national championship with a 3-1 victory over Juniata College. The Bears have won an NCAA Division III record 10 national championships, including two of the last three national crowns. The Red and Green had three student-athletes named AVCA All-Americans, and Luenemann was named the AVCA Division III National Coach of the Year in 2009.
Junior middle hitter Lauren Budde highlights a group of five returning starters for the Bears. Budde was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2009 NCAA Division III Championship, and led the Bears with 439 kills a year ago. Also returning for the Bears is junior outside hitter Kristen Thomas, who joined Budde on the NCAA All-Tournament Team. Thomas was third on the squad with 351 kills in 2009.
A pair of sophomores return to the Bears’ lineup in setter Marilee Fisher and libero Kelly Pang. Fisher led NCAA Division III in assists per set at 11.4, with a total of 1,049 assists. She earned second-team all-University Athletic Association (UAA) honors, first-team AVCA Central Region selection and third-team AVCA All-America honors as a freshman. Pang enjoyed a record-breaking freshman campaign earning AVCA Freshman of the Year and first-team AVCA All-America accolades. She shattered the single-season dig record with 702 in her rookie season.
Sophomore outside hitter Drew Hargrave rounds out the returning starters for the Bears. As a freshman, Hargrave started 23 of 30 matches played and recorded 148 kills.
Washington University opens its 2010 season on Wednesday, Sept. 1, when its hosts Greenville College and Harris-Stowe State University in a dual match doubleheader at the WU Field House in St. Louis, Mo., beginning at 5:30 p.m.