Defending Conference Champion Gallaudet University Ranked No. 1 in 2017 NEAC Women's Volleyball Preseason Poll

Defending Conference Champion Gallaudet University Ranked No. 1 in 2017 NEAC Women's Volleyball Preseason Poll

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – Gallaudet University, the seven-time defending champions, will again enter the new season as the top-ranked team after the votes have been tallied in the 2017 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) women’s volleyball preseason poll.  

The Bison received 12 first-place votes and 168 points as the team to beat in the league after posting an 11-2 mark in NEAC play last year. Five starters return on a deep squad that includes reigning NEAC Player of the Year Darriyan Thomas (Vallejo, Calif.) and NEAC Rookie of the Year Adele Daniels (Frederick, Md.). Senior setter Jasmine Jeter (Noblesville, Ind.) will also be a key player for Gallaudet after recording 1,191 assists and earning second team all-conference honors in 2016. Head Coach Lynn Ray Boren enters his 13th season needing only seven wins to reach 300 in his time with the Bison. Outside of the NEAC schedule, Gallaudet will meet Stevenson, Marymount (Va.) and Catholic in its non-conference schedule.

After advancing to the NEAC Semifinals in 2016, the second-ranked Morrisville State College Mustangs have high expectations for the upcoming season. The Mustangs received one first-place vote and 135 points in this year’s preseason poll. Junior Helena Hanes (St. Mary’s, Pa.) leads a group of nine returners after earning First Team All-NEAC honors in 2016 with 232 kills, 459 assists, 212 digs and 50 total blocks. NEAC Defensive Player of the Year Samantha Wolf (Liverpool, N.Y.) and sophomore Megyan Merrill (Millport, N.Y.) also add experience to Fred Wallace’s roster with both earning a spot on the NEAC All-Conference Second Team last season.

Wells College earned 127 points to land in the third spot of the coaches’ poll. The Express, who also advanced to the NEAC Semifinals last year, will bring back nine returners and seven new players in 2017. All-Conference honorees Anuhea Leite-Ah Yo (Hilo, Hawaii) and Jackie Allen (Syracuse, N.Y.) are expected to be key contributors in this year’s campaign. Head Coach Mark Lucas returns for his second season after leading Wells to a 19-11 overall record in 2016.

SUNY Poly and Penn State Berks tied with 124 points, but the Wildcats secured the No. 4 spot in the poll by receiving the final first-place vote. NEAC runner-up SUNY Poly returns to the court with a new coach as Juleah Wanner takes over a squad with four returners. Junior setter Sydney Johnson (Nine Mile Falls, Wash.) is one of the Wildcats’ top returners with 1,112 assists and 250 digs in 2016 to earn an all-conference nod.

Penn State Berks closes out the top five with seven returners and five starters looking to make a deeper run in the NEAC postseason. With a 10-3 mark in league play, the Nittany Lions earned the No. 4 seed in the NEAC Tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals. The all-conference trio of Alexis Horst (Terre Hill, Pa.), Madison Wojciechowski (Blandon, Pa.) and Morgan Schwartz (Sinking Spring, Pa.) will be key players for head coach John Forry.

The full 2017 women’s volleyball preseason rankings can be found below:

Rank Institution (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1. Gallaudet University (12) 168
2. Morrisville State College (1) 135
3. Wells College 127
4. SUNY Poly* (1) 124
5. Penn State Berks* 124
6. Keuka College 111
7. Lancaster Bible 99
8. Penn State Abington 95
9. College of Saint Elizabeth 72
10. SUNY Cobleskill 60
11. Bryn Athyn College 58
12. Penn College 55
13. Cazenovia College 31
14. Wilson College 15
* Tie broken by higher ordinal number points

 

The preseason poll rankings were conducted by the NEAC women’s volleyball coaches, with each coach ranking all teams but their own using a staggered points system (13 points for a first-place vote, 12 points for second, etc.). The 2017 NEAC women’s volleyball season will begin Friday, Sept. 1, with a full season schedule being available on the NEAC website.

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The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has fourteen NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Bryn Athyn College, Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Wells College, and Wilson College.  Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (M Volleyball), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Pennsylvania State University – Altoona (M Volleyball), and Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of field hockey and men’s tennis. For more information, please visit: www.neacsports.com.