LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – In a vote by the league's head coaches, Trinity University was tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the 2017 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference volleyball championship.
Trinity University and Southwestern University both picked up four first-place votes each but the Tigers earned 58 total points to lead the league.
Tigers head coach Julie Jenkins returns six starters from her 2016 roster, which finished the season with a 27-8 overall record, a 13-1 regular season conference mark, and the program's 18th SCAC Championship. The Tigers made an appearance in the first-round of the NCAA championships, but fell to Hendrix College. The postseason appearance was the 22nd for Trinity.
Jenkins continues to lead all active coaches in Division III with 883 wins, more than 150 wins ahead of the second-place coach. She is also 14th among all coaches, active or not, from all NCAA divisions.
After finishing its 2016 campaign with a No. 16 ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Final Poll, Trinity begins its 2016 season ranked No. 14 in the AVCA Division III Coaches Top-25 Preseason Poll.
Southwestern University is the coaches' second choice, finishing with 57 points in the preseason balloting. Playing as the second-seed in last year's SCAC tournament, the Pirates fell just short in their bid for a second consecutive conference postseason title, losing 3-1 to Trinity in the tournament final. The Pirates earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, and had a historic run, finishing third in the nation after falling to Washington University – St. Louis.
The Pirates ended 2016 ranked No. 4 in the AVCA poll, but will enter the new season at #5, the highest of all SCAC teams ranked.
Colorado College tallied 51 points to come in third in the coaches' preseason poll. The Tigers finished 2016 with a 28-6 record, including an 11-3 record in conference play. Colorado College also earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and fell in the second round to Southwestern.
The Tigers will begin 2017 ranked No. 9 in the AVCA Division III poll, the same ranking that they finished the 2016 campaign with.
Austin College and Texas Lutheran University tied for fourth in the coaches' poll with 37 points.
The 'Roos close out 2016 with a 24-15 overall record, going 7-7 in SCAC action. The 'Roos also finished fourth at last year's conference tournament. Head Coach Ed Garza, in his 22nd year with Austin College, moved to 21st in the NCAA in victories among active coaches, earning his 547th victory last season.
Texas Lutheran took sixth place during the regular season and fifth in the SCAC tournament last year, finishing the season with a record of 15-17 overall and 5-9 in SCAC action. The 2017 campaign will mark the 12th season for head coach Tiffany Davis at the helm of the Texas Lutheran volleyball program.
The University of Dallas came in at sixth in the voting with 20 points. In 2016, the Crusaders finished fifth in the regular season and sixth in the SCAC tournament, posting an overall record of 13-21 and 5-9 in conference competition. The UD program will once again have a new face at the helm, with Kelli Trautmann taking over. Trautmann spent the last three years working as an assistant coach at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.
Schreiner University comes in at seventh in the coaches voting with 15 points. The Mountaineers will also have a new Head Coach this season, as former Head Coach Howard Wallace announced his retirement in mid-May. The Mountaineers will be led by Alyssa Hanley, who comes to Kerrville after spending time as an assistant coach at Missouri Southern State University. Hanley inherits a Mountaineers program that went 3-24 last season, finishing 0-14 in league play.
Centenary College rounds out the eight teams in the league, tallying 13 points from the balloting. The Ladies bring in first-year Head Coach Caroline Carlton to lead the program. Carlton came to Centenary after serving as the Head Coach at Wesleyan College in Georgia. The Ladies closed out 2016 just short of a conference tournament berth, finishing with a record of 9-22 overall and 3-11 in league play.
2017 SCAC Predicted Order of Finish
1. Trinity University – 58 points (4)
2. Southwestern University – 57 points (4)
3. Colorado College – 51 points
T-4. Austin College – 37 points
T-4. Texas Lutheran University – 37 points
6. University of Dallas – 20 points
7. Schreiner University – 15 points
8. Centenary College – 13 points
(Eight points were awarded for a first-place vote, seven points for a second-place, down to one point for an eighth-place vote. First-place votes in parenthesis.