Volleyball ranked No. 6 by AVCA heading into 2016

Volleyball ranked No. 6 by AVCA heading into 2016

St. Louis, Mo., August 17, 2016 – The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III Top-25 Preseason Poll was released Wednesday afternoon and Washington University in St. Louis was listed for the 260th consecutive poll, ranking No. 6 overall heading into the 2016 season.

The defending national champion California Lutheran University was listed first on 45 of 49 ballots for the number one ranking followed by Wittenberg University, Juniata College, Emory University and Calvin College. Wittenberg and Juniata each received multiple first place votes as well. 

The Bears finished 34-3 overall last season in head coach Vanessa Walby's second season at the helm. WashU reached the Regional Championship for the 28th consecutive season before falling to Cal Lutheran.

"Our strength coming back will be the three seniors," explained Walby. "The leadership and experience that they bring to the table is invaluable."

Senior middle hitter Caroline Dupont returns after earning second team All-American honors last season. She led the team with 372 kills and a hitting percentage of .413 while also totaling 94 blocks along with 35 service aces.

Fellow WashU seniors Rexi Sheredy and Amanda Palucki also return after starting every match last season. Junior defensive specialist Lauren Fournier returns after contributing in 33 matches.

Sheredy earned All-Conference and All-Region recognition last season as an outside hitter posting 369 kills, 376 digs, 52 blocks and a team-leading 50 aces. She was also an All-American honorable mention selection

Palucki added 327 kills and 81 blocks while Fournier averaged 3.37 digs per set. The Bears also return six sophomores in Julianne Malek, Lauren Martin, Loren Shin, Natalie Stephanus, Ifeoma Ufondu and Savannah Zhang. The 2016 squad also has a strong group of nine newcomers.

"We had a really good spring and I'm excited to see how all the individual work we did transfers over to this fall," added coach Walby when asked about the sophomore class.

"I think we have a talented class coming in too. Their learning curve is massive but a lot of them have the opportunity to come in and earn some significant playing time as well."

The newcomers that hail from nine different states include Zoe Baxter, Erica Williams, Shannon Gurley, Abby Selcho, Leila King, Emily Jayne, Hannah Turner, Chloe Stile and Alex Ahrens

The Red and Green will open the season hosting the Baden Invitational against Knox College at 6 p.m. on Friday Sept. 2, with a contest slated to follow against DePauw University at 8 pm. The Bears have three matches Saturday versus Adrian College, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Hanover College.

With the 2016 season just around the corner be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.