Fairfield, Conn.—The two-time defending Northeast Conference champion Sacred Heart women's volleyball team was unanimously picked to finish on top once again in the 2012 NEC Preseason Coaches' Poll released Thursday.
Last season, the Pioneers finished 27-7 overall and 14-2 against conference opponents. After topping No. 1 LIU Brooklyn 3-1 to win the NEC Championship, SHU battled Stanford in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite falling 3-1, Sacred Heart made history becoming the first team in NEC and SHU history to win a set at the NCAA Tournament.
Despite losing NEC Libero of the Year Jessica Colberg and All-Conference selection Kimmee Roleder to graduation, Head Coach Rob Machan boasts a strong list of returnees, including second team All-Conference middle blockers Johanna Ovsenek (London, On.) and Elise Sage (Greenwood Village, Co.).
In her junior campaign, Ovsenek recorded 332 kills, 83 blocks and ranked seventh in the NEC in hitting percentage (.312). Sage, who was named to the NEC All-Tournament team, contributed 294 kills, 105 digs, 50 blocks and ranked fifth in the league hitting (.333). Sacred Heart also brings back Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico), who tallied 349 kills and 372 digs in her sophomore season.
The Pioneers open the season on August 24 against Holy Cross as part of Northeastern's Beanpot Classic.
|1||Sacred Heart (8)|
|4||Robert Morris (1)|
|6||Saint Francis (PA)|
|8||St. Francis (NY)|