KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – After capturing its first outright Southeastern Conference Championship a season ago, the University of Tennessee volleyball team has been unanimously selected to repeat as SEC Champions in a preseason vote by the league’s 13 coaches.
With coaches not allowed to vote for their own teams, UT received the maximum 12 first-place votes for this year’s prediction. The Lady Vols went 19-1 in SEC play and posted a 28-4 overall mark last season.
Florida received the lone remaining first-place vote after finishing 27-6 overall and 17-3 in league play in 2011.
“It’s great to see our program recognized by coaches in our conference," said head coach Rob Patrick. "It’s a testament to the amount of time and energy our players have dedicated to prepare for SEC play over the last few years, but we haven’t earned anything yet. Our league schedule will test our ability to consistently play at a high level, but we are excited to accept that challenge and can’t wait to get the season started.”
Tennessee earned 12 points to win the Eastern Division, followed by Kentucky with 30 points and Florida with 35. Missouri was picked to finish fourth with 37 points, while Georgia (56 points) and South Carolina (67 points) were tabbed fifth and sixth in the division, respectively.
For the fifth consecutive season, LSU was predicted to win the Western Division with 20 points. The Tigers posted a 12-8 league record and a 19-11 overall mark last season and have won seven straight division titles.
Texas A&M was selected second with 22 points, and the Arkansas Razorbacks were picked third with 27. Ole Miss was selected fourth with 52 points, while Auburn was picked fifth with 58. Alabama (65 points) and Mississippi State (71 points) were predicted sixth and seventh in the division, respectively.
Points were compiled on a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 basis for the Western Division and 1-2-3-4-5-6 for the Eastern Division. Each coach is not allowed to vote for his or her own team and each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.
The 2012 Preseason All-SEC Team will be announced on Tuesday, Aug. 7, while first serve of the 2012 season is slated for Aug. 24. Conference play begins on Sept. 12.
The Big Orange hosts the Comcast Lady Vol Classic to open the campaign from Aug. 24-25. The Orange & White welcomes 2011 NCAA Tournament participants Cincinnati, Florida State and Iowa State to Thompson-Boling Arena for the 31st annual event.
UT welcomes back a slew of returning starters, including four American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Americans. DeeDee Harrison, who led the SEC in blocks (1.14), returns for her senior campaign. Kelsey Robinson, the reigning Conference Player of the Year who paced the league in kills (4.52), points (5.25) and double-doubles (23), is back for her junior season.
Senior opposite hitter Leslie Cikra, who finished 2011 hitting over .330 in league matches, is also back for the Orange & White. In addition, setter Mary Pollmiller, who was named SEC and South Region Freshman of the Year, enters her sophomore season after leading the SEC in assists per set (11.94) and setting UT’s single-season bests in the category and in overall assists (1,480). Her 1,480 helpers led all freshman setters nationally and placed her fifth in the country in assists per frame.
|2012 SEC Preseason Coaches' Poll|
|(First-Place Votes in Parentheses)|
|SEC Champion: Tennessee (12), Florida (1)|