W&L, R-MC, BC Earn First Place Considerations
FOREST, Va. --- The point differential at the top of the 2019 ODAC Volleyball Preseason Poll is not quite as tight as it was a season ago, but it is pretty close. Washington and Lee University sits perched atop the annual survey for the second straight year, earning eight first place votes on the way to 139 points to edge Randolph-Macon College by four markers. The Yellow Jackets picked up four top nods on the way to 135 tallies.
The next three positions are separated by just 13 points with Bridgewater College securing third place with 116 points including the remaining first place consideration. Virginia Wesleyan University ranks fourth with 109 tallies, and Roanoke College owns fifth with 103 points.
The 2018 ODAC Tournament had a relatively familiar feel with three of the four semifinal teams appearing for the second straight season. Top-seeded Randolph-Macon earned hosting duties for the final four with a 3-0 quarterfinal win over #8 Randolph. The Yellow Jackets then topped #4 Virginia Wesleyan, 3-0, in the first of two semifinal matches. Second-seeded Washington and Lee toppled #7 Guilford College, 3-0, in the quarters and did the same to #3 Bridgewater in the semifinals to join R-MC in the title match.
In a near carbon copy of the 2017 league championship, the Generals and Jackets needed five sets to determine a winner. Washington and Lee used an 9-4 start to the frame to cruise to a 15-8 win to lift its first ODAC trophy since 2014 and record 16th crown in program history.
The Generals put forth their best effort in regional play in the NCAA Tournament. They squared off against Colorado College in their opener at Berry College and took the first (25-20) and fourth (25-23) sets to force a nail-biting fifth frame. The Tigers came away with a 15-12 victory to move on in the bracket.
RELATED: 2018 ODAC Tournament Results | 2018 NCAA Tournament Results
ODAC teams welcome back a bit more All-ODAC talent to rosters this season with 13-of-21 honored athletes back on campus in 2019 compared to just nine returners in 2018. This season's crop features five All-ODAC First Team standouts. Washington and Lee leads the charge with three overall all-league returners led by first team outside Allison Webb. She's joined by All-ODAC Second Team setter Anna Soroka and All-ODAC Third Team middle Courtney Berry.
Bridgewater and Randolph-Macon feature two returners each. The Eagles and reigning ODAC Coach of the Year Erin Harris look to 2018 ODAC Player of the Year, outside Rachel Gaston, as well as second team libero Taylor McNeely. Gaston was also the ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete of the Year for volleyball. The Yellow Jackets welcome back first team outside Miranda Hall, who earned ODAC top player laurels in 2017. She's joined by third team outside Sydney Koch.
Roanoke and Virginia Wesleyan boast first team returners. Outside Linsey Bailey earned ODAC Rookie of the Year plaudits following her first season as a Maroon, while Amber Matalus grabbed high honors as a middle on the Marlins front line.
Guilford welcomes back second team setter Tina Eucker along with third team outside Christian Ritter. The University of Lynchburg has a similar returning award-winner profile with second team outside Sydney Frink patrolling the floor with third team libero Lauren Stanford.
RELATED: 2018 All-ODAC Volleyball Awards
The 2019 season begins with non-conference play on Friday, August 30. The first ODAC matches are slated for Tuesday, September 10. The schedule comes to a head with the conference tournament beginning with quarterfinal play at the top four seeds on Wednesday, November 6. The highest remaining team will host the final four on Friday-Saturday, November 8-9. If you can't make it to the matches, be sure to check the schedules online for live video, audio, and/or statistics links.
Listed below is the 2019 ODAC Volleyball Preseason Poll. Be sure to check out the preseason capsules for each team as well (online version only click HERE for the online release).
For more information on ODAC volleyball, visit the websites of any of the participating schools, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter and Instagram.