UK Picked Third in East in SEC Volleyball Preseason Poll
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. The University of Kentucky has been selected to finish third in the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference volleyball title race in a preseason vote by the leagues 11 head coaches, while Florida was tabbed to claim the conference crown. The Gators have been SEC Champions for 15 consecutive years and have won 12 of the last 14 SEC Tournament titles.
The Wildcats are coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years after finishing the 2005 campaign with a 17-12 mark. UK returns nine letterwinners, including four starters, from last season. The 2005 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Jenni Casper will anchor the defense, while All-Freshman Team selection Queen Nzenwa returns after leading the team with 145 blocks last year.
We were picked last in 2005, so it looks like we have gained some credibility, said second-year head coach Craig Skinner. We like our team's competitive edge this year, so I would imagine they will be motivated to do even better than the poll suggests."
Florida was also the top pick in the Eastern Division, earning all 50 possible total points. The Gators, 33-3 overall in 2005, return 10 letterwinners and five starters from last year's team. The program vies for its 17th appearance (16th consecutive) in the NCAA Tournament.
Tennessee claimed the second spot in the East with 40 points and also received one overall SEC Championship vote. The Lady Vols return five starters from their 2005 squad. The Lady Vols went 25-9 on the season, advancing all the way to the NCAA National Semifinals a year ago.
Kentucky finished at third in the East with 30 points. South Carolina placed fourth with 26 points, with Georgia finishing 5th with 15 points.
In the West, LSU grabbed the top spot with 58 total points. The Tigers also grabbed two votes to win the overall SEC Championship. LSU returns five starters and nine letterwinners from a 2005 squad that won 21 matches and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Alabama was second with 47 points, receiving two votes to win the SEC West. Arkansas, Co-Champions of the West in 2005, was picked to finish third with 45 total points. Mississippi State's 36 points earned them fourth, with Auburn and Ole Miss finished fifth and sixth, with 23 and 16 points respectively.
Points were compiled on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for the Western Division and 5-4-3-2-1 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 2005 season marked the 16th consecutive season in which the SEC has placed at least two teams in the NCAA Tournament. A record-breaking six SEC teams earned berths in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, shattering the previous record of four teams. Eight players were named AVCA All-American and nine players were named to the AVCA Division I All-District Team.
Kentucky begins its slate on Tuesday, Aug. 29, when it hosts 2006 NCAA Tournament participant Western Kentucky in Memorial Coliseum at 7 p.m.
(First-Place Votes in Parentheses)