St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 13, 2014 – The Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team landed at No. 11 in the 2014 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III Coaches Top-25 Preseason Poll, as announced by the association.
Defending NCAA Division III national champion Calvin College tallied 56 of 60 first-place votes to begin the 2014 season as the top-ranked team. Emory University, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Hope College and University of St. Thomas filled out the top-five in the rankings.
Washington U. finished the 2013 season with a 27-8 record and an appearance in the NCAA Second Round. Head coach Vanessa Walby returns five starters and the starting libero from last year's squad for her first season at the helm of the Bears' program. Sophomore middle hitter Caroline Dupont leads the way after earning AVCA All-America First Team and National Freshman of the Year honors in 2013. Junior middle hitter Jackie Nelligan was an AVCA All-America honorable mention selection in 2013. Dupont and Nelligan each received all-University Athletic Association (UAA) first-team honors, while junior setter Cassie Wang and sophomore outside hitter Alex Sheredy were named to the all-UAA honorable mention last year.
The Bears, who have now been ranked in all 235 AVCA polls all-time, are scheduled to face 10 teams ranked in the top-25 in 2014, including six of the top-10 – No. 1 Calvin, No. 2 Emory, No. 5 University of St. Thomas, No. 6 California Lutheran University, No. 7 Wittenberg University, No. 9 College of St. Benedict, No. 12 Elmhurst College, No. 14 Juniata College and No. 17 University of Chicago. In addition, Washington U. will take on three teams who were among those receiving votes in the poll – Millikin University, New York University and Southwestern University (Texas).
Washington U. is scheduled to play nine of its 13 home matches in the first two weekends of the season during the Labor Day Classic (Aug. 29-31) and the ASICS Invite (Sept. 5-6) at the WU Field House. The Bears open the season at 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29 against Greenville College, before facing Loras College at 7 p.m.