FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Sacred Heart women's volleyball team was picked to finish fifth in the Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, released on Wednesday.
The Pioneers, who were picked to finish second last season, finished 12-15 and missed the NEC Tournament for the first time in three seasons. Head coach Rob Machan returns for his 11th season at the helm and returns 13 letterwinners returning from last season's squad, including All-NEC Second Team selection Makayla Dole.
Spearheading the team, Dole landed 404 attacks (3.61 k/s) while earning 457.5 points (4.1 p/s) through a team-tying 112 sets played. She amassed over 200 kills and points in NEC play alone with her kills' total slotting her third amongst other NEC competitors.
Red-shirt junior Liisel Nelis is among the 13 returners from last season also. Nelis played in all 112 sets across all 27 matches during the season. She Ranked second on the team with 388 kills and 3.46 kills per set, which ranked third overall in the NEC. Nelis recorded a team-best 15 double-doubles, led the team with 43 service aces and ranked second in the NEC with 0.38 aces per set.
Two-time defending champions LIU Brooklyn were selected as the preseason favorites, garnering five first-place votes. Bryant got one first-place vote and was slated second, with Robert Morris slotted third with a first place vote and Central Connecticut was picked fourth and received a first place vote in the poll. Sacred Heart was picked fifth, followed by Saint Francis U, Fairleigh Dickinson and St. Francis Brooklyn.
SHU opens the 2018 season August 24-25 at the Boston College Invitational and opens its home slate at the Pitt Center Friday, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. against NJIT as part of the Hampton Inn by Hilton Shelton Invitational.
NEC Women's Volleyball Preseason Poll
1. LIU Brooklyn (5)
2. Bryant (1)
3. Robert Morris (1)
4. Central Connecticut (1)
5. Sacred Heart
6. Saint Francis U
7. Fairleigh Dickinson
8. St. Francis Brooklyn