Lees-McRae Returns to Top Spot in Coaches Preseason Volleyball Poll

Thomasville, NC> Lees-McRae will be gunning for their unprecedented eleventh consecutive conference tournament championship as they start the year ranked number one in the by league coaches' in the preseason poll. The Lady Bobcats, having graduated All-Conference first team member Daviana Metti, won both the conference tournament semi-final and final in extremely competitive five game matches. "I do not like being ranked 'preseason number one' again this year," commented Head Coach Jamie Petrik. "There are expectations assigned to it. Especially with how well Anderson and Limestone finished last year and how good they should be this year."

Coach Petrik will look to senior co-captain Natalie Burns, the Bobcats leading blocker with 110 blocks last year, and redshirt junior co-captain Trisha Reese, coming off an ACL tear last fall, to lead the team. The Lady Bobcats also return juniors Lauren Dickover and Katie-Marie Legg. The respective setter and middle hitter have formed a lethal combination in the middle the past two seasons. Finally, the Lady Bobcats (26-12 overall, 17-3 conference in 2007) return five sophomores, including second team All Conference Carolinas libero Kell Bogdan and outside hitter Whitney Kiser. "We have depth, we are returning four starters, and we have a solid freshmen class," said Petrik. "Now we have to see how resilient we will be."

The Limestone College volleyball team finished strong in the 2007 season with a 20-16 overall record and a 16-4 record in league play. The Saints finished in second place in the Conference Carolinas regular season standings, were runners-up in the conference tournament, and recorded thirteen shut-out victories to finish the fall ranked ninth in the Atlantic Region. Limestone will have a solid core of veterans this season. The Lady Saints will look to returning outside hitters Lynn Milam, Jennifer O'Keeffe, and Melissa Thomas, a 2007 All-Conference and All-Region honoree. Defensive specialist Chelsea Anthony and middle hitter Samantha Flannery will also play major roles this season. Limestone's 2008 roster also features three more returnees and eight newcomers.

With five returning starters and the largest freshman class in head coach Jennifer Bell's career, expectations are high for the Anderson University volleyball team in 2008. "Everywhere I go there's a buzz," Bell said. "People tell me we're supposed to be good this year. It's exciting to think about. I'm trying not to get too excited because we are so young. If we didn't earn respect before last year, we earned it last year.

The Lady Trojans were 20-18 overall and 14-6 in Conference Carolinas last season. In 10 seasons at Anderson, Bell has led the Lady Trojans to five 20-win seasons, including three of the last four years. Bell expects senior Amanda Edwards to be one of the top players in Conference Carolinas. Edwards led the team in total kills (519) and kills per game (3.84) last season. She needs 357 kills to become Anderson's all-time leader.

Rounding out the poll 4-11 was: Pfeiffer, Mount Olive, St. Andrews, Belmont Abbey, Coker, Barton & Converse (tied), and Queens respectively.

Conference Carolinas Volleyball Preseason Poll (# of First Place Votes in Parenthesis)
1. Lees-McRae (6) 96
2. Limestone (3) 91
3. Anderson (2) 81
4. Pfeiffer 69
5. Mount Olive 64
6. St. Andrews 49
7. Belmont Abbey 45
8. Coker 38
T-9 Barton 28
T-9 Converse 28
11. Queens 16