ROCK HILL, S.C. – With the regular-season opener just three days away, the Anderson University volleyball team captured one first-place vote and has been predicted to finish second in the South Atlantic Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, while senior Jayln Knight, along with juniors Kathryn Hughes and Emily Conlin, also earned Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference honors, as announced by the conference office Tuesday morning.
The Trojans, who posted a school-record 22-match win streak en route to capturing its first-ever SAC regular-season championship last season, notched a program-best 28 victories a year ago. After winning the conference title and reaching the NCAA Southeast Region semifinals in its fourth overall appearance in the tournament, this year's prediction marks the highest spot in the preseason poll for the Black and Gold since last year's squad was tabbed to finish third in the conference. The poll also marks the second time since joining the league in 2010 that the Trojans have collected a first-place vote.
The preseason first- and second- teams were also announced, with the Trojans' Conlin capturing first-team honors, while Knight and Hughes collected second–team accolades.
After having its streak of 11 consecutive championships halted last year by the Trojans, Wingate was picked to win its 12th regular-season title in 13 years after picking up 10 first-place votes and 110 points from the coaches' panel. The Bulldogs finished 27-4 last season after advancing to the NCAA Southeast Regional for the 13th straight year with an at-large bid.
Queens came in at No. 3 in the preseason poll with 92 points, just behind the Trojans. The Royals closed out their 2017 season with a 23-8 overall record, including a 14-6 record against SAC foes. Queens earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after claiming its' first-ever SAC Tournament Championship a season ago.
Carson-Newman, which finished fourth in the poll with 87 points, joined AU, Wingate and Queens in last year's NCAA Southeast Regional.
Lincoln Memorial checked in at No. 5, earning 63 points, while Tusculum earned the No. 6 spot with 61 points and Mars Hill had 56 points at No. 7. Lenoir-Rhyne was picked to finish eighth with 53 points, followed by Coker at No. 9 with 43 points and Catawba at No. 10 with 33 points. Newberry closed out the poll with 24 points at No. 11.
Accompanying the release of the preseason poll was the announcement of the 2018 SAC Volleyball Preseason All-Conference teams. The preseason all-conference teams featured four players from Wingate, three from Anderson and Carson-Newman, two players from Queens and a single player from Coker, Mars Hill, Lenoir-Rhyne, Mars Hill and Tusculum.
Conlin earned First-Team Preseason All-SAC accolades after being named an Honorable Mention All-American and earning All-Southeast Region honors from both the D2CCA and AVCA at the conclusion of last season. She was also named First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference and garnered SAC All-Tournament accolades.
The Glendale, Ariz., native notched 18 double-doubles last season and led the SAC in assists and assists per set, while ranking fifth in the school record books with 2,538 career assists. She handed out double-figure assists in 32 matches and reached 40+ assists in 16 matches and reached 50+ assists on five occasions, including a season-high 58 against Augusta in early September. She stood fourth on the team and 21st in the SAC with 339 digs last season.
Knight started every match last season and was third on the team and 21st in the conference with 249 kills, including a season-high 18 against Augusta. She reached double-figure kills on nine occasions and ranked fourth on the team and 17th in the conference with 25 aces, including two on eight occasions. The versatile senior was third on the team and 19th in the SAC last season with 350 digs, including a season-high 22 at Queens.
A native of Redlands, Calif., Knight reached double-digit digs in 19 matches, including six of the last eight and posted five double-doubles on the season.
Hughes saw action in 30 matches last season, while recording 214 kills, including a season-high 15 twice – against Lander and Tusculum. She reached double-figure kills nine times and recorded 48 digs, including a season-high five on two occasions. The Chapin, S.C., native was third on the team with 57 block assists, including a season-high four on three occasions.
The Trojans are set to open the regular season against Indianapolis, Friday in the Coker/Francis Marion Tournament. First-serve versus the Greyhounds is slated for 1 p.m.
2018 SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll
School (1st-Place Votes) Points
Rank School Total
1. Wingate (10) 110
2. Anderson (1) 93
3. Queens 92
4. Carson-Newman 87
5. Lincoln Memorial63
6. Tusculum 61
7. Mars Hill 56
8. Lenoir-Rhyne 53
9. Coker 43
10. Catawba 33
11. Newberry 24
2018 Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference
Rachel Alles, Wingate
Anna Holmquist, Wingate
Morgan Ballard, Carson-Newman (L)
Taylor Henry, Queens
Phoebe Havenaar, Wingate
Cassie Born, Tusculum
Emily Conlin, Anderson
Marnie Steeter, Carson-Newman
Taylor du Bray, Coker
Sally Anne Johnson, Mars Hill
Kori Adams, Wingate (L)
Jayln Knight, Anderson
Casey Tarvin, Queens
Kathryn Hughes, Anderson
Megan Oldenburger, Carson-Newman
Taylor Prall, Lenoir-Rhyne