FAIRFIELD, CONN. (Aug. 15, 2013)—The Sacred Heart women's volleyball team was picked to finish fourth in the 2013 Northeast Conference preseason poll released Thursday afternoon.
"The NEC continues to be a very competitive conference and is continuing to establish itself as a volleyball power in the East," said Head Coach Rob Machan. "It has become a conference where any team on any night can come out on top. We are young, but should be very competitive by the time the conference tournament rolls around. I am very excited to see how the season develops."
SHU finished 10-20 last year and an even 8-8 in conference play for fifth place in the NEC narrowly missing the conference tournament for the first time since 2006.
The Pioneers return former NEC Rookie of the Year Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) for her senior season. Last year, Mercado filled the role of libero after serving as an outside hitter the previous two years. Also, junior setter Alisa Mesa (Long Beach, Calif.) who, in her rookie campaign, broke the program record for assists. Last year, she was ranked second in the conference averaging 9.59 assists per set.
Sacred Heart welcomes its largest freshmen class in program history with 10 fresh faces hitting the court in 2013.
"I am very excited to add these outstanding players to our team," Machan said. "We are adding excellent players in both the libero and setting positions and both should come in ready to compete and contribute at a very high level. The other three bring size and physicality to our team that we have been sorely lacking in the past."
The Pioneers open the season once again at the Crusader Classic at Holy Cross on Friday, August 30 against Stony Brook.