RICHMOND, Va., August 14, 2013 – Coming off its third straight Colonial Athletic Association semifinals appearance, the James Madison volleyball team was picked to finish fifth in the 2013 season in a vote of the league’s head coaches the league announced on Wednesday.
JMU was picked fifth, receiving 28 points in the poll. CAA-newcomer College of Charleston was a unanimous pick for the CAA’s top spot, receiving 49 points, including seven first-place votes. Northeastern picked up 36 points to finish in second followed by Delaware (34 points) in third and defending league champion Hofstra (33 points, 1 first place vote) in fourth. After JMU, the poll was rounded out by Towson (19 points), William & Mary (15 points) and UNCW (10 points).
The Dukes return five players that appeared in at least 25 matches last season, including senior libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant). Daorai led the team with 425 digs in 2012 and heads into her senior season ranked fourth in school history with 1,167 digs. Also back for the Dukes are CAA All-Rookie team selection sophomore outside hitter Meghan Niski (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) and junior middle blocker Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs). Briones ranked third on the team with 2.61 kills per set and led the team with 94 blocks. Niski ranked fourth on the squad with 2.32 kills per set.
JMU also returns junior outside hitter Martha Stewart (Naperville, Ill./Waubonsie Valley) and sophomore defensive specialist/outside hitter MacKenzie Kleespies (Lincoln University, Pa./Avon Grove). Both players appeared in at least 27 matches last season, combining to start 21. Two players, redshirt junior setter Kristi Richardson (Glen Allen, Va./Hermitage) and redshirt junior middle blocker Kelly Maguire (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central) return after missing most or all of 2012 with injuries.
CofC, which is coming of its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 11 years, returns three players who were selected to the All-SoCon team. The Cougars have won either the regular season or conference tournament in the Southern Conference in each of the past 12 seasons.
Northeastern returns 2012 CAA Player of the Year and AVCA All-East Region honoree Kelly Bacon. The senior led the Huskies last year with 346 kills, posted a .240 hitting percentage, and recorded 247 digs.
Delaware, which has captured four of the last six conference titles, brings back two CAA All-Rookie members from a year ago in Ariel Shonk and Mackenzie Olsen.
JMU volleyball opens its season on Friday, Aug. 30 at the Cavalier Classic in Charlottesville, Va. The Dukes play Montana, Virginia and Marshall in the two-day tournament.
2013 CAA VOLLEYBALL PRESEASON COACHES POLL
- College of Charleston 49 points (7 first place votes)
- Northeastern 36 points
- Delaware 34 points
- Hofstra 33 points (1)
- James Madison 28 points
- Towson 19 points
- William & Mary 15 points
- UNCW 10 points
(Teams received 7 points for a first-place vote, 6 for second, etc. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.)
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