FRISCO, Texas – Stephen F. Austin was voted the Southland Conference’s 2019 preseason favorite for volleyball by conference coaches and sports information directors, the league announced Monday.
After a memorable 2018 season that saw the Ladyjacks produce a 32-3 overall record and a 14-0 mark in Southland play, SFA will look to build upon their recent success. In their 2018 campaign, the Ladyjacks established program records for overall wins (32), consecutive wins (29) and winning percentage (.914). Danae Daron, the 2018 Southland Tournament Most Valuable Player, joins reigning Southland Setter of the Year Ann Hollas as preseason first-team all-conference selections. Maddie Miller joins her Ladyjack teammates as a preseason second-team all-conference selection. Stephen F. Austin secured at the top of the poll with 19 first-place votes and 283 total points.
Central Arkansas is next with 238 points and a pair of first-place votes. The Sugar Bears occupy second place in preseason voting after finishing the 2018 season with 26-7 overall record and a 14-2 mark in conference play, falling in the conference tournament title match. Following the conference tournament, UCA was invited to compete in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC). Elizabeth Armstrong will look to lead the Sugar Bears into the 2019 season as a second-team preseason all-conference selection. Central Arkansas led the league last season with 13.4 kills per set and .244 hitting percentage.
Sam Houston State is third in the preseason poll with 227 points, while Houston Baptist follows closely behind in the fourth-place position with 213 points. The Bearkats and the Huskies each received one first-place vote. SHSU landed one selection on the preseason all-conference team in Breanne Chausse, who was voted a second-team selection. Last season, Sam Houston State relied on its defense, leading the conference with 17.68 digs per set as a team.
The Huskies round out the top four spots after securing a trio of preseason all-conference honorees, tying them for most in the league. Makayla Vivens, an automatic first-team selection, is joined on the preseason roster by teammates Kelly Colwell and Megan Patillo, who both earned second-team distinctions. Vivens ranked second in the conference averaging 4.11 points per set last season, while the Houston Baptist squad combined for a league-best 202 aces.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi resides in the fifth-place position with 206 points and three first-place votes, followed by Abilene Christian with 194 points. Northwestern State (182) is expected to finish in seventh overall, while McNeese (135) occupies the eighth-place spot.
UIW (95), New Orleans (88), Lamar (82), Nicholls (47) and Southeastern Louisiana (38) are predicted to finish in the ninth through 13th-place positions, respectively.
The preseason poll is voted on by head coaches and SIDs from each Southland volleyball school. Voting for one’s own team is not permitted.