AUGUSTA, GA – The Francis Marion University women’s volleyball team has been tabbed to finish second according to the 2005 Peach Belt Conference preseason coaches’ poll released Wednesday (Aug. 17), while Armstrong Atlantic State University was the unanimous No. 1 pick.
AASU received all six possible first-place votes in the poll, while Francis Marion received one first-place tally. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own squads. FMU’s second-place selection is the highest for the program since 1999. USC Aiken was picked to finish third, followed by USC Upstate, UNC Pembroke, Lander University, and Augusta State University.
The 2005 season will feature a new-look Peach Belt as the conference adjusts to the loss of perennial power University of North Florida to the Division I ranks, shrinking the number of PBC volleyball teams to seven. The loss also changes the format of the PBC Tournament, giving the No.1 seed, or regular-season champion, a bye into the tournament semifinals.
Francis Marion finished third in the conference last year after compiling a 21-14 record. However, the Patriots return all six starters from last year’s team, including All-Conference middle hitter Lezlie Logan, All-Conference libero Jessica Strader, and 2004 PBC Freshman of the Year Michelle Settergren. Head coach Sonny Kirkpatrick will also have three other letterwinners returning along with three freshmen newcomers.
FMU opens its 2005 campaign, Aug. 26-27, when the Patriots host the 10-team Joseph B. DuRant Memorial Invitational Tournament.
AASU, ranked 21st in the CSTV/AVCA preseason Division II Top 25 poll, returns three of six starters from last season’s 29-8 team that advanced to the NCAA regionals.
2005 Peach Belt Conference Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
No. School (1st place votes) Total
1. Armstrong Atlantic State (6) 36
2. Francis Marion (1) 29
3. USC Aiken 26
4. USC Upstate 23
5. UNC Pembroke 14
6. Lander 12
7. Augusta State 7