FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Mary Washington earned the top spot in the 2017 Capital Athletic Conference Volleyball Preseason Poll. The Eagles, who captured their first CAC title since 1991 last fall, secured seven first-place votes and 79 points to land atop the preseason rankings.
Christopher Newport, which saw its three-year reign atop the CAC end in 2016, received two first-place votes and 72 points to finish second in the voting among the conference head coaches.
Salisbury tallied 63 points to finish third in the poll, while Marymount was close behind in fourth with 60 points and one first-place nod. York (41 points) rounded out the top five squads, with St. Mary's and Southern Virginia in a tie for sixth place with 38 points apiece.
Frostburg State placed eighth in the poll with 33 points, followed by Wesley (15 points) and Penn State Harrisburg (11 points).
The 2017 season opens up on Friday, Sept. 1, with conference play beginning in late September. The CAC Championship match is set for Saturday, Nov. 4.
2017 CAC Volleyball Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
|10.||Penn State Harrisburg||11|
After advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th consecutive year in 2016, CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT will feature a youthful roster in 2017. After graduating six seniors from last year's squad, including a pair of former first-team All-Americans, head coach Lindsay Birch's current crew includes just two seniors and boasts 13 players who are in either their first or second year of collegiate volleyball. The veteran portion of the roster is headlined by sophomore Riley Garrison, who was an All-Conference selection as a freshman in 2016.
Seven seniors highlight a talented FROSTBURG STATE roster with the potential to finish as the top senior class in the 23-year history of the program. Frostburg narrowly missed the CAC Tournament a season ago, despite finishing as one of the top schools in the league statistically. Frostburg finished fifth in the conference in total attacks (3,915), second in digs per set (18.36), fifth in team digs (1,891) and seventh in assists (1,041). Senior Nya Cheatem is among the most decorated volleyball players in a number of years, earning her second-consecutive First Team All-CAC award following her junior year. She became the eighth player in program history to register 1,000 kills and enters 2017 with 1,156.
MARY WASHINGTON dethroned Christopher Newport last year and won the CAC tournament for the first time since 1991, while advancing to the Elite 8 of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The Eagles return CAC Rookie of the Year Savannah Powers, along with All-CAC selection Leslie Walters. Jenna Yost is the lone senior on the roster and will look to juniors, Walters and Ryan Cho, to help lead this young group of Eagles to a second straight CAC Championship.
MARYMOUNT head coach Beth Ann Wilson, the CAC all-time winningest coach with 416 overall, enters her 25th season at the helm of the program, looking to guide the Saints to their 12th 20-plus win season. Last season marked big milestones for the program, including the best winning percentage in program history (25-9, .735), just the second time in program history to record single-digit losses (nine), and the program's first Top-25 victory with a 3-1 win over No. 12 Mary Washington. With four returning starters in lone senior Christy Tieman, juniors Ashton Walkerand Caroline Hanson, and sophomore libero Theresa Buscemi, the Saints welcome 11 new faces to the squad. Marymount will look to build off of last year's success that saw them finish in the top two of most categories as a team, while finishing atop in points (2129), service aces (248), and solo blocks (67). Tieman and Hanson, who split much of the assists for the team, finished fifth and seventh, respectively, in the league last year, while Buscemi led the league in service aces with 50. Hanson was also named CAC Volleyball Player of the Week and ECAC Division III South Offensive Player of the Week.
Looking to build some success from last season, coach Angela Burkett will lead a seasoned group of Lions. PENN STATE HARRISBURG senior setter Casey Stump and sophomore middle hitter Brittany Wolf will power the offensive attack, while junior libero Kari Ammerman will anchor the defense.
After leading ST. MARY'S to its first 20-win season since 2012, second-year head Kelly Martin brings in a balanced mix of youth and veteran experience to the fold in 2017. The trio of junior captains Marissa Dangler, Mia Griffiths, and Hannah Krauss plus the team's lone senior, Brigid Morris, will look to lead the squad through a challenging schedule which only features eight home matches. Offensively, the Seahawks should be strong with the return of three of their top-5 attackers from a year ago while Dangler should lead the defense after racking up 4.10 digs per set last season.
SALISBURY welcomes back 10 returners from last season's team and adds seven new faces to the group. After falling in the CAC semifinals to Christopher Newport 3-2 last season, the Gulls look to build and advance further into the playoffs this year. With the departure of five starters from last year's team the roster is wide open for people to step up and take over. The Sea Gulls will look to seniors Alexis Howatt, Sydney Davis, and Samantha Chubb to lead the way during the 2017 campaign. The maroon and gold also will look to returner's Nicole Venturelli, who will remain at outside hitter, and Hailey Dougherty, who will take over at libero, to raise their games from last year and make an impact on both the offensive and defensive side of the net.
SOUTHERN VIRGINIA is looking to get back in the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Returning this season are team kill leaders Penny Gwynn and Hannah Allred, who each averaged over 3.4 kills per set. Third-year head coach Nicole Gwynn is hopeful that her team of nine returners and eight newcomers will find their way into the post-season.
The 2017 edition of WESLEY will have a mix of youth and senior leadership on the court, led by third-year head coach Lindsay Beiler. The front row will be led by senior Tionne Graves-Brown. Graves-Brown ranked seventh in the CAC in kills per set (3.13) and 14th in total kills (269). She is tops on Wesley's all-time in points per set (3.2), attack percentage (.240) and kills per set (2.70). She is 38 kills away from topping Lilla Brekke (2006-09) on the all-time kills list. Joining Graves-Brown on the attacking line are fellow seniors Jessica Tynes, Codi Ziolkowski and Tania Rounds, along with sophomore Elisa Hackendorn. Tynes tallied 212 kills in 2016 to place second on the team. Ziolkowski led the team with 49 service aces and added 174 kills while Hackendorn and Rounds had 116 and 68 kills respectively. Sophomore Lindsay Burg will be the primary setter in 2017 after leading the team with 539 assists a season ago. The Wolverines will open the season at the Puerto Rico Clasico in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Sept. 2-3.
YORK heads into the 2017 season with high expectations after a 21-win season last fall. Long-time assistant coach Dan Mickle takes over the helm of the program after Tim Bonitz stepped down in July. Mickle will look to lead York back to the CAC Tournament after the Spartans earned a berth in the tournament for the first time in four seasons in 2016. Mickle will turn to a strong junior class to lead the way. Outside hitters Eryn Brady and Brooke Krebs are York's offensive catalysts while Alexis Harbold is one of the top liberos in the CAC. Sophomore Gabby Emeigh will run the Spartan offense from the setting position and fellow sophomore Madyson Whitcomb will man the middle for the Green and White.