LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - In exclusive balloting by the league’s head coaches, two-time defending tournament champion Colorado College is the preseason favorite to win the 2019 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s volleyball title.
On the heels of its second consecutive league tournament title and fifth over the last nine seasons, the Tiger program looks to become the first to three-peat at the conference postseason event since Colorado College head coach Rick Swan’s squads from 2010, 2011 and 2012 accomplished the feat.
CC, which begins the season ranked seventh in the AVCA coaches’ poll, earned eight of the 10 first-place votes to total 98 points in the preseason balloting. By virtue of earning the league’s automatic bid a year ago, the Tigers made the program’s 21st consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball championship, succumbing to eventual national champion Emory University in the Mount Berry regional semifinal.
Colorado College (32-3; 15-1 SCAC) returns four highly decorated seniors from last year’s squad with middle hitter and defending SCAC Player-of-the-Year Marguerite Spaethling leading the way. A year ago, Spaethling was a second-team All-American, a first-team All-SCAC selection and was named the MVP of the 2018 conference tournament. Setter Lizzy Counts and outside hitter Haley Harris also earned first team All-SCAC honors last season with Counts receiving third-team All-America recognition as well. Outside hitter Jordan Mullen was slowed by injuries last year, but the 2017 honorable mention All-American hopes to be back at full strength.
Trinity University earned the remaining two first-place votes and came in second with 90 points. The Tigers (25-7; 15-1), who are ranked 17th in the AVCA preseason poll, earned the program’s 24th NCAA postseason appearance last season before falling to Aurora (Ill.) in the regional opener. Among the returnees for head coach Julie Jenkins is senior setter Katrina Lieberman who was selected first team All-SCAC and to the AVCA All-America Honorable Mention team a year ago.
Southwestern University (18-12; 12-4) received 81 points in the preseason balloting and was the coaches’ third selection. After a slow start, the Pirates finished the 2018 campaign strong, upsetting Trinity 3-1 in the conference semifinals before falling 3-2 to Colorado College in the championship match. Sophomore middle blocker/right side Ashley Whitlock, who earned second team All-SCAC honors as a freshman, hopes to lead Southwestern back to NCAA postseason play after the program missed out on the national tournament for the first time since 2014.
Austin College (16-18; 7-9) received 60 points and is predicted to finish in fourth place while the University of Dallas (20-15; 7-9), who returns the league’s Freshman of the Year in middle hitter Dayah Whyte, is slotted fifth with 55 points.
Texas Lutheran University (9-21; 6-10) received 48 points to place sixth in the preseason balloting. The Bulldogs return the league’s Backrow Player-of-the-Year in senior Jaci Chambers. SCAC newcomer University of St. Thomas (Texas) (25-7; 9-3 RRAC) is the coaches’ seventh selection after earning 42 points, and Centenary College (18-18; 7-9) received 37 points in the preseason balloting to earn the eighth-place slot.
Rounding out the coaches’ preseason poll, Schreiner University (3-27; 2-14) was picked ninth with 25 points and Johnson & Wales University (2-24; 1-15) was 10th with 14 points.
The 2019 SCAC Volleyball season is set to kick off with non-conference action on Friday, August 30, while the first SCAC regular season weekend is scheduled for Friday, September 18 with Centenary and Johnson & Wales hosting group divisionals. Following the completion of the regular season, the top six teams in the league will compete in a single-elimination tournament, hosted by Texas Lutheran University, to determine the conference's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament.
2019 SCAC Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll
|1.||Colorado College (8)||98|
|2.||Trinity University (2)||90|
|5.||University of Dallas||55|
|6.||Texas Lutheran University||48|
|7.||University of St. Thomas||42|
|10.||Johnson & Wales University (Denver)||14|