Sam Houston has been tabbed to finish third in the upcoming 2013 Southland Conference volleyball race in the annual preseason voting by the league’s head coaches.
Central Arkansas, the squad that shared the regular season championship with the Bearkats then went on to earn the league’s NCAA berth as Southland tournament champion, is the coaches’ pick to win the 2013 title.
Central Arkansas received eight first-place votes and 117 points in the coaches’ poll. Sam Houston State received one first-place vote.
The Bearkats and the Bears ended deadlocked in last year’s race, both with 15-3 league records. Sam Houston rolled to a 21-11 overall mark.
Last year’s Sam Houston team rolled up 13 consecutive victories during the march to the conference title. The winning streak was the longest since SHSU moved up to NCAA Division I play in 1986.
Two all-Southland Conference performers, junior Deveney Wells-Gibson and setter Tayler Gray, return as starters along with senior Haley Neisler.
Wells-Gibson was the Southland Conference “Player of the Year.”
Bearkat coach Brenda Gray enters her 30th season as the head of the Bearkat program and is four wins shy of 600, a feat accomplished by only 14 active NCAA Division I coaches.
Oral Roberts was the head coaches’ pick for second place in the league race this fall. Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin were tabbed to finish tied for third. Northwestern State was picked fifth, following by Houston Baptist, A&M-Corpus Christi, Lamar, Southeastern Louisiana, McNeese State, Nicholls and New Orleans.
Sam Houston opens its 2013 schedule at the Appalachian State tournament Friday and Saturday Aug. 30 and 31. The Bearkats’ home opener will be Tuesday Sept. 3 against Texas State.
2013 Southland volleyball conference play begins Sept. 19. The conference tournament will be held Nov. 22-24 at the Dugan Wellness Center on the campus of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas.
2013 Southland Conference Volleyball Preseason Head Coaches Poll
Rk. School (first-place votes) - PTS
1. Central Arkansas (8) - 117
2. Oral Roberts (2) - 101
3t. Sam Houston State (1) - 94
3t. Stephen F. Austin (1) - 94
5. Northwestern State - 78
6. Houston Baptist - 76
7. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi - 75
8. Lamar- 45
9. Southeastern Louisiana - 44
10. McNeese State - 34
11. Nicholls - 20
12. New Orleans - 14