Northeastern Tabbed as Preseason Volleyball Favorite
RICHMOND, Va. (August 14, 2012) - Northeastern has been selected as the preseason favorite to capture the 2012 CAA volleyball title according to a vote by the league's head coaches.
The Huskies received five first-place votes and 60 total points to earn the top spot, narrowly edging out defending champion Delaware. The Blue Hens received three first place votes and 58 total points to earn the second place nod. James Madison earned the final first place vote and tallied 48 points to earn the third spot. Towson was picked fourth after receiving 44 points, while Georgia State rounded out the top five with 28 points. Hofstra and George Mason were selected sixth and seventh by earning 27 and 22 points respectively, while William & Mary and UNCW rounded out the preseason poll.
Northeastern returns five players who received conference post-season honors in 2011, led by CAA Rookie of the Year Jillian Briner, CAA Defensive Specialist of the Year Natalia Skiba and Janelle Tucker, a first-team All-CAA performer. Tucker, a junior outside hitter, led the Huskies with 302 kills and 343 points. Skiba will anchor the back line for Northeastern after recording 513 digs last season and leading the CAA with 5.13 digs per set. Briner was among team leaders in kills and assists. The Huskies posted a 21-6 record last season, which included an 11-3 mark in conference play.
Delaware has captured four of the past five CAA titles and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. The Blue Hens return two all-conference performers in senior outside hitter Alissa Alker and senior middle hitter Chelsea Lawrence. Alker led the Blue Hens with 466 total points, while recording 382 kills and 384 digs. Lawrence ranked second on the team in blocks with 120 and led the team in hitting percentage at .264. The Blue Hens return four starters from last season.
James Madison has three all-conference performers returning from last season's squad that finished 8-6 in CAA play and 20-11 overall. First team All-CAA selection Natalie Abel returns for her senior season after leading the Dukes with 3.40 points per set and recording 2.99 kills per set. Senior Danielle Erb was a third team All-CAA selection after ranking second on the team with 31 aces.
Towson looks to make a run at the CAA title after posting a 10-4 record in conference play and a 23-9 record overall last year. The Tigers return 11 letterwinners from last season including 2011 CAA Player of the Year Katy Buck. Buck led the CAA in kills per set last season with 4.05 and recorded a team leading 458 kills. Towson also returns senior Aubrey Kirven who was named to the All-CAA second team last season after leading the conference in assists per set (11.55).
Georgia State hopes to build off its 8-6 conference record from last season. GSU will look to the lone senior, Jamiee Freeman, to anchor the front line of the young Panther squad. Freeman led the Panthers will 47 aces last season while recording 434 digs and 290 kills.
2012 CAA VOLLEYBALL PRESEASON COACHES POLL
Northeastern 60 points (5 first place votes)
Delaware 58 points (3 first place votes)
James Madison 48 points (1 first place vote)
Towson 44 points
Georgia State 28 points
Hofstra 27 points
George Mason 22 points
William & Mary 20 points
UNCW 17 points
(Teams received 8 points for a first-place vote, 7 for second, etc. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.)