Wheeling Jesuit is the overwhelming favorite to claim the school’s ninth WVIAC volleyball regular season title since 1999. WJU, owners of a 167-7 record in conference play in the past eleven seasons, received 13 of 14 first place votes to easily outdistance second-place Alderson-Broaddus in the league’s annual preseason coaches’ poll.
Third place Charleston received the lone first place vote that didn’t go to Wheeling Jesuit. Shepherd, West Virginia State, and West Virginia Wesleyan possess the fourth through seventh spots. Seton Hill, Glenville State, and Fairmont State complete the top ten. Pitt Johnstown is eleventh, Concord and West Liberty tied for twelveth, while Ohio Valley and Bluefield State comprise the remainder of the poll.
Wheeling Jesuit (36-6, 14-0 WVIAC) loses a pair of first team All-WVIAC honorees to graduation, but welcomes back a first team all-conference pick in senior Keysha Allison (S/RS). 2009 WVIAC Freshman of the Year Allissa Ware and senior libero Laura O’Reilly are also key returnees for head coach Christy Benner’s Cardinals.
Alderson-Broaddus (22-16, 12-2 WVIAC) has a pair of top-notch outside hitters in senior Amanda Check and Lindsay Hadley. Charleston (21-13, 9-5 WVIAC) will build around returning second team All-WVIAC setter Katie Williams.
Shepherd (21-12, 12-2 WVIAC) nearly doubled their win total from 11 to 21 in 2009. The Rams return three starters, including first team all-conference middle hitter Amanda Hall. West Virginia State (16-12, 10-4 WVIAC) must replace three All-WVIAC first team honorees. Middle blocker Alyssa Graboski was a WVIAC All-Freshman selection last year.
West Virginia Wesleyan (11-15, 9-5 WVIAC) returns five of six starters, including senior setter Hayley Barhorst and outside hitters Jess Pattyn and Blake Saumell. Libero Jess Raffa and setter Jana Lowe are among the top returnees as Davis & Elkins (20-17, 7-7 WVIAC) seeks a third straight season with 20 or more victories.
Seton Hill (11-15, 6-8 WVIAC) welcomes back five starters. Senior outside hitter/setter Megan Kehlert led the Griffins in assists last season and also ranked among the team leaders in kills. Glenville State (15-22, 9-5 WVIAC) has one of the league’s top back row standouts in senior setter/defensive specialist Erica Hale.
Fairmont State (19-16, 6-8 WVIAC) looks to blend five returning starters with a well-regarded crop of five newcomers. Junior libero Morgan Walls ranked fourth in the WVIAC with 575 digs last fall. Pitt Johnstown (11-17, 4-10 WVIAC) must replace four starters. Junior outside hitter Taylor Hrescak is the top returnee for the Lady Cats.
Concord (11-20, 3-11 WVIAC) nearly doubled their win total last season in head coach Kate Southcott’s first season in Athens. West Liberty (8-23, 3-11 WVIAC) hopes to build on the momentum of last season’s WVIAC Tournament first round upset over West Virginia Wesleyan, the first win ever for a #12 seed in the league’s post-season. Junior Melissa Pierzchala looks to lead WL to a higher seed in 2010.
Ohio Valley (2-33, 0-14) head coach Paul Jacoby expects that his freshman class will make the Lady Scots stronger on defense. Bluefield State (3-15, 1-13) hopes to turn things around in 2010. The Lady Blues are only 7-92 in WVIAC play since starting the program in 2004.
The WVIAC regular season opens on September 3. The 12-team conference tournament takes place November 11-13 at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Complex.
The complete 2010 WVIAC volleyball coaches’ poll follows:
1. Wheeling Jesuit (13) 209
2. Alderson-Broaddus 193
3. Charleston (1) 168
4. Shepherd 164
5. WV State 159
6. WV Wesleyan 156
7. Davis & Elkins 109
8. Seton Hill 106
9. Glenville State 101
10. Fairmont State 87
11. Pitt Johnstown 69
t12. Concord 64
t12. West Liberty 64
14. Ohio Valley 31
15. Bluefield State 17