CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BigSouthSports.com) – The UNC Asheville volleyball team was picked to finish sixth in the Big South Conference's annual preseason poll, it was announced Tuesday by the conference office.
Radford was chosen first in the poll, while Highlanders’ outside hitter Rachel Wiechecki was voted the Conference’s Preseason Player of the Year by the League’s head volleyball coaches.
Asheville finished last season with a record of 17-14 overall, and a 7-7 mark in league play to earn the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament. Former Bulldogs Anna Moore and Rachel Wells earned All-Conference honors for their efforts on the season, with returner Katie Davis earning All-Big South Honorable Mention.
Radford, under the direction of seventh-year head coach Marci Jenkins, received six first-place votes and 93 total points to repeat as Big South champions in 2014. The Highlanders are the preseason favorite for the first time since 2001. Radford, which won the 2013 regular-season and tournament championship with an 11-3 conference record and captured the program’s first League title since 2001, also led the Big South in assists (12.81) and kills (13.74) in 2013.
Wiechecki, the reigning Big South Player of the Year, enters her senior season 42 digs shy of joining the 1,000-dig and 1,000-kill club – on pace to become the first in Radford history to achieve the feat since the rally scoring era began in 2008. The senior also claimed 2013 First Team All-Big South honors and was the Big South Tournament MVP. Wiechecki was an AVCA All-Region and three-time Big South Player of the Week honoree last season. She holds the Radford rally scoring era record for kills (504), digs (475), aces (51) and points (591).
Wiechecki is the first Radford player to be voted Big South Preseason Player of the Year since the award began in 2005. She headlines the eight-person Preseason All-Conference team, which includes two players from Radford and Coastal Carolina, as well as a tie for the libero position.
Coastal Carolina finished second in the preseason poll at 90 points, while Liberty was third with 82 points. Both teams claimed two first-place votes. High Point was voted fourth with 75 points, Winthrop fifth with 55 and UNC Asheville sixth with 37. Campbell was voted seventh with 36 points, followed by Gardner-Webb (eighth, 35), Presbyterian College (ninth, 32) and Charleston Southern (10th, 15 points).
The Bulldogs will begin the season on Aug. 29 when they take on USC Upstate at the 2014 Clemson Invitational.