Lynchburg Third in ODAC Preseason Volleyball Poll

The Hornets were picked third in the preseason poll
The Hornets were picked third in the preseason poll
FOREST, Va. --- Two-time ODAC defending champion Washington and Lee University collected 115 points and eight first place votes to sit atop the 2014 ODAC Volleyball Preseason Poll.  Randolph-Macon College is one of four other squads to earn first place consideration, receiving two top nods and 106 total tallies.  Lynchburg College stands third with 97 points, while Virginia Wesleyan College and Bridgewater College round out the top-five having each received one first place vote towards 87 and 85 points, respectively.

In the 2013 conference tournament, Washington and Lee and Lynchburg advanced thru the semifinals to setup the second straight ODAC title matchup between the two foes.  The Generals posted a 3-0 victory to wrap up their ODAC-record 14th overall volleyball crown and punch a ticket to the NCAA Division III Tournament.  W&L's stay on the national stage lasted one match at Emory University.  The Generals were defeated by Berry College, 3-0.

The 2014 season will be a year for new standout players to emerge as just nine All-ODAC athletes return to courts across the conference.  Washington and Lee (28-7 overall, 10-1 ODAC in 2013) and reigning ODAC Coach of the Year Bryan Snyder have a pair of All-ODAC First Team selections to replace, including ODAC and W&L all-time kills leader M.A. Boles.  Several strong returners are back to help with that process, including All-ODAC Third Team middle blocker Mackenzie Shand (244 kills, .367 attack pct., 102 blocks).  Former ODAC Rookie of the Year, outside hitter Anna Lausberg (244 k, .218 att%, 24 aces, 42 blk), and right side Maddie Kosar (173 k, 236 digs, 29 aces) add to the Generals offense.  Libero Kelly McManus (419 d, 42 aces) is back to patrol the back line.

Randolph-Macon (22-7, 10-1) features of pair of all-conference returners, including first team outside hitter Courtney Lowers (254 k, .296 att%, 57 blk).  Middle hitter Katie Rossberg (243 k, 258 d, 26 aces) earned All-ODAC Third Team accolades.  Outside hitter Addie Cooper (107 k) provides added offensive clout, while setters Riley Martin (506 asissts, 123 d, 31 aces) and Bailey Troia (447 ast, 141 d, 40 aces) keep the Yellow Jackets' attackers stocked with quality service.

Lynchburg (14-13, 7-4) is led by All-ODAC Second Team outside hitter Aricquel Payne (218 k, 216 d, 21 aces, 45 blk).  Fellow outside Amanda Perry (201 k, 215 att%, 183 d, 33 aces) and middle hitter Sierra Strathy (200 k, .296 att%, 35 aces, 88 blk) will continue to reap the benefits of returning setters Gabby Myers (518 ast, 150 d, 58 aces) and Mackenzie Ross (372 ast, 178 d).

Virginia Wesleyan (16-14, 7-4) features two all-conference standouts, both from the third team in libero Marin Crowder (484 d, 46 aces) and middle hitter Alex Lambert (282 k, 103 d, 53 aces, 53 blk).  The Marlins are further bolstered by the return of outside hitter Tiffany Barrett (234 k, 136 d) and setters Kirstin Sessoms (597 ast, 252 d, 25 aces) and Amberlyn Daglian (356 ast, 74 d).

First team middle hitter Megann Grimes (334 k, .313 att%, 121 blk) leads Bridgewater (20-16, 5-6) after finishing last season as one of three players with a .300 or better attack percentage, joining W&L's Shand and former Guilford College middle Malikah French.  Outside hitter Abby Mills (254 k, 310 d, 39 aces) adds fuel to the offense, while defensive specialist Chelsea Owensby (241 d, 30 aces) guards the back line.

Roanoke College (19-11, 7-4) welcomes back a strong corps to the 2014 squad, including outside hitter Macey Tyree (201 k, 353 d, 53 aces) and middle blocker Sarah Long (140 k, .235 att%, 42 blk).  The Maroons also return both setters in Alexandra Martin (405 ast, 203 d, 34 aces) and Jessica Block (384 ast, 175 d, 38 aces).

Emory & Henry College (15-13, 6-5) and Shenandoah University (14-17, 5-6) are separated by just five points in the preseason poll.  New head coach Devyn Bayes takes over the Wasps program, and she's got reigning ODAC Rookie of the Year Tristen Pennington (305 k, 272 d, 29 aces) on attack.  Fellow outside hitter Hannah Doss (157 k) and setter Maleah Neely (654 ast, 152 d, 29 aces) also return.  SU features leading attacker Rachel Gross (264 k, 269 d, 34 aces) as well as a pair of middle blockers in Samantha Schambach (160 k, 267 d, 39 aces, 34 blk) and Rachel Roberts (110 k, .258 att%, 91 blk).  Setter Jasmine Callahan (728 ast, 197 d, 38 aces) is also back.

Guilford College (13-14, 4-7) and Eastern Mennonite University (9-18, 2-9) welcome back experienced athletes.  The Quakers will look to outside hitters Kelsey Ruehling (148 k, 199 d, 36 aces) and Brittany DeCesare (71 k) as well as middle blocker Michaela Wall (95 k, 30 blk).  The Royals have outside hitter Becca Hardy (153 k, 139 d) and setter Dani Driver (654 ast, 21 aces) back on offense and libero Katie Miller (456 d, 38 aces) covering the defensive half.

Randolph College (12-11, 2-9) and Hollins University (5-25, 1-10) look to make the climb up the ODAC ladder.  The WildCats and new head coach Kara Matthews feature second team outside hitter Jordan Templin (308 k, .271 att%, 253 d, 28 aces) leading the way.  Fellow outside Marissa McClinton (151 k, 50 blk) is joined by setter Kerry McMichael (586 ast, 123 d, 29 aces) and libero Lexi Harrington (303 d, 32 aces).  HU has three key pieces returning to the front line.  Middle blocker Lauren Hays (226 k, .269 att%, 73 blk) and outside hitter Jessie Deese (154 k, 193 d) were first and second on the squad in kills and will again benefit from the passing of setter Lela Moore (610 ast, 181 d, 22 aces).

The 2014 season begins on August 29 with non-conference competition.  For more information, visit any of the participating schools' websites or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at  Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter.
(#) Denotes first place votes
1. Washington and Lee (8) 115 pts.
2. Randolph-Macon (2) 106 pts.
3. Lynchburg 97 pts.
4. Virginia Wesleyan (1) 87 pts.
5. Bridgewater (1) 85 pts.
6. Roanoke 80 pts.
7. Emory & Henry 58 pts.
8. Shenandoah 53 pts.
9. Guilford 41 pts.
10. Eastern Mennonite 34 pts.
11. Randolph 21 pts.
12. Hollins 15 pts.