Volleyball Picked 2nd in SEC Preseason Poll
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. The University of Kentucky has been selected to finish second in the Southeastern Conference volleyball title race in a preseason vote of the leagues 11 head coaches. Florida was unanimously chosen to win the 2007 title. Coming off their 16th straight 20-win season and 15th NCAA regional semifinal in the last 16 years, the Gators earned all but one of the first-place votes. The Wildcats received the remaining first-place vote.
UK is coming off one of its best seasons in recent history after finishing 19-12 in 2006 and fourth in the SEC with a mark of 11-9 in league play. The Cats made their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and earned their first win in the Big Dance since the 1992 season with a win over No. 20 Ohio.
The 2006 SEC Freshman of the Year Sarah Rumely, along with All-SEC selections Nicole Britenriker and Queen Nzenwa all return to anchor the Kentucky lineup this season. Six letterwinners from a year ago are joined by a freshman class that was named the eighth-best in the nation by Volleyball Magazine.
Florida was also the top pick in the Eastern Division, earning 10 top votes. The Gators, who posted a 30-3 record and won the 2006 SEC title, return all seven starters. Kentucky received the only other first-place vote as the Wildcats recorded 22 points to place second. Tennessee followed with 25 points for the third-place vote. Georgia and South Carolina round out the Eastern Division in a close race with 41 and 42 points, respectively.
In the West, Alabama topped the list with 14 points. The Crimson Tide is coming off of its second consecutive NCAA appearance and returns five starters from its 2006 squad, including All-SEC and All-America selection Crystal Hudson. Three points separated first- and second-place as the LSU Tigers recorded 17 points for the second spot in the division. The Arkansas Lady Razorbacks claimed the third-place spot with 28 points, and first-time NCAA participant Ole Miss hopes to build on the previous year, as they were voted fourth with 36 points. Closing out the Western Division in fifth-place are the Auburn Tigers with 47 points, and the Mississippi State Bulldogs in sixth with 53 points.
Points were compiled on a 1-2-3-4-5-6 basis for the Western Division and 1-2-3-4-5 for the Eastern Division. Each coach was not allowed to vote for his or her own team and each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.
The 2006 season was a record-breaking year for the SEC as seven teams earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament. It also marked the 17th consecutive season in which the SEC has placed at least two teams in the NCAA Tournament. Nationally, eight players were named AVCA All-America and 13 players were named to the AVCA Division I All-District Team.
Kentucky begins its regular season Aug. 24-25, when it travels to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to participate in the Northern Iowa Tournament. The Wildcats will face Wright State, Western Michigan and host and NCAA participant Northern Iowa in the two-day tournament.
Preseason Coaches' Poll
SEC Champion: Florida (10), Kentucky (1)