GSC volleyball preseason coaches' poll envisions West Florida as league champions yet again
Four Argonauts attain Preseason All-GSC status
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – If the University of West Florida volleyball team feels a collective sense of déjà vu, there’s a good reason for it. The Gulf South Conference pundits have spoken, and the Argonauts are the favorites to capture their fifth GSC title in a row it was announced today in the preseason coaches’ poll.
The Argonauts received five out of the seven first place votes and one second place nod for 35 points in the poll. North Alabama nabbed the other two first place votes and finished three points behind UWF with 32 points. For the second straight season, the Lions were the only other team in the league to receive a first place vote.
Christian Brothers tallied 26 points while only two points separate Valdosta State (18 points) and West Alabama (16 points) who sit in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Alabama-Huntsville accrued 11 points and West Georgia rounds out the preseason poll with nine points.
“The GSC is a great conference,” said reigning GSC Coach of the Year Melissa Wolter, who is entering her seventh season at the helm of the West Florida volleyball squad. “We have great matches all throughout the season and we have to prepare for every single team we play since everybody is constantly going out and recruiting great players.”
Looking to affirm the opinions of the league prognosticators, the Argonauts return to the court led by junior middle hitter Lindsay Homme (Willowbrook, Ill.) who earned a spot on the Preseason All-GSC Team. The defending GSC Player of the Year led the seven-team league in hitting percentage (.324) in 2011 and was second in kills per set with 3.62. Unsurprisingly, her termination tally of 387 led the Argonauts while she also accumulated 25 service aces, 91 digs and 90 blocks.
Joining her older teammate among the ranks of the Preseason All-GSC selections is sophomore Autumn Duyn (Venica, Fla.). The 5-9 outside hitter wasted no time in making a big splash in the collegiate ranks as her 346 kills ranked second on the team to Homme. Also without question were the defensive skills of Duyn as she racked up 304 digs through the course of the 2011 campaign – a mark good for second on the squad.
“We have a really good core group of returners and I think that’s going to help us tremendously, since they know the conference and the opponents that we play,” said Wolter. “Obviously Homme and Duyn did tremendous things for us last year statistically, and I think they’re playing even better volleyball right now. It’s kind of exciting to see them surrounded by all of these newcomers, so I think we’ve put together a great roster and we have to spend preseason getting to know one another.”
A pair of new Argonauts were also featured in the list of the top newcomers in the GSC. Sophomore transfer Sarah Scott (Plainfield, Ill.), comes to the Sunshine State after two years among the ranks of the NCAA Division I University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners. Scott helped UTSA win the Southland Conference Championship in 2010.
One of the premier junior college players in the nation last season, Andraia Leja (Crystal Lake, Ill.) looks to continue her high level play at the Division II level in 2012. Playing the libero position for Harper College, Leja led the Hawks with 94 services aces and 699 digs en route to being named the Harper College Female Athlete of the Year. The North Central Community College All-Conference Team and NJCAA All-Region Team selection averaged 4.8 digs per game, which placed her at 21st in the nation in that particular category.
“Our players are self-motivated, but the stakes are always high,” stated Wolter. “Every year everybody starts out at 0-0 and all the work that they’ve put in throughout the spring season keeps them motivated. That’s the type of environment that we’ve created. Every new group that we have wants to keep moving our program forward.”
The Argos open their 12th season of intercollegiate volleyball on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The first opponent for UWF will be Lock Haven University with the first serve slated for 2 p.m on Aug. 31.
For information on all UWF athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.