AUGUSTA, GA – Francis Marion University has been picked third in the race for the 2009 Peach Belt Conference volleyball title, according to the annual coaches’ preseason poll.
Armstrong Atlantic State University was voted the preseason favorite, receiving five of a possible seven first-place votes to finish with 46 points. PBC newcomer Flagler College was second with 39, followed by FMU with 35 points. Coaches were not allowed to rank their own teams.
Francis Marion returns nine of 12 letterwinners from last year’s 23-9 squad that tied for second during the PBC regular season, reached the final of the PBC Tournament, and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament. To reach or surpass those achievements in 2009, the Patriots will have to make up for the loss of All-Conference players Jessica Lombardi and Jenna Kaiser. However, the young Patriots do return front-line powers Ashlyn Underhill, Amanda Mitchell, and Ashlee Crook, all of whom had over 200 kills last season as freshmen.
FMU opens its 2009 season Aug. 28-29 at the Carson-Newman College Tournament. The following week (Sept. 4-5), the Patriots will host the FMU Invitational Tournament.
AASU won both the 2008 PBC regular season and tournament championships.
With the addition of Flagler and the University of Montevallo to the conference, PBC volleyball will undergo a facelift as the two are the first new teams to join since 1998. The PBC Tournament will be held Nov. 13-15 at the USC Aiken Convocation Center.
Peach Belt Conference
2009 Women’s Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
School (1st-place votes) Total
1. Armstrong Atlantic St. (5) 46
2. Flagler (2) 39
3. Francis Marion 35
4. Montevallo 33
5. Lander (1) 31
6. USC Aiken 18
7. Augusta State 12
8. UNC Pembroke 10