ODAC Coaches Put EMU At No. 10 In Poll

Coach Jeff Tyson and the volleyball women are plotting a way to prove the ODAC coaches wrong by qualifying for the ODAC Tournament this fall.
Coach Jeff Tyson and the volleyball women are plotting a way to prove the ODAC coaches wrong by qualifying for the ODAC Tournament this fall.

The EMU volleyball women have been picked No. 10 in the ODAC Women's Volleyball Preseason Poll.  The Royals were tabbed to finish right where they did last fall, leaving them room to make a run at their first ODAC Tournament bid since 2007.

The women earned 34 points in the coaches poll, landing ahead of Randolph at 21, but behind ninth-place Guilford at 41.  Defending champion Washington and Lee received eight first-place votes for a total of 115 points to lead the poll.  The other four top nods were split between Randolph-Macon, Virginia Wesleyan and Bridgewater, which shows a growing competitive balance in the conference.  W&L and Randolph-Macon have combined to win the last 13 ODAC titles.

In their second year under Coach Jeff Tyson, Eastern Mennonite won their first ODAC matches in four seasons, finishing 2-9 in the league and 9-18 overall.  That improvement should continue this year as the women return the key pieces to their league-leading defense.

Libero Katie Miller (San Antonio, Tex./Brandeis) is back for her junior campaign after finishing second in the ODAC with 4.47 digs per set and a team-best 38 service aces.  She has 830 digs in two years and is on pace to challenge Rachel Nafziger's career record of 1,436 digs.  The Royals return three other players who had 139 or more digs in 2013, when they easily led the Old Dominion Athletic Conference with 17.47 digs per set as a team.  Versatile Becca Hardy (Port Republic, Va./Eastern Mennonite) averaged 1.72 digs per set as a freshman and is also the team's leading returning hitter at 1.89 kills per set.  Also back is outside hitter Sara Ritchie (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby), who led the team with 3.49 kills per set in 2012 but missed last year on a cross cultural study program.

Eastern Mennonite's women open the 2014 season by hosting the six-team EMU Invitational this weekend.  They play Hood and Goucher on Friday, starting at 3:00pm.  The Royals also take on Catholic and Salem on Saturday as part of the two-day, two-court extravaganza.  Click here to see the official EMU Invitational webpage.

Click here to see the entire 2014 EMU women's volleyball schedule.

For more information, visit any of the participating schools' websites 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.

(#) Denotes first place votes

1. Washington and Lee (8)

115 pts.

2. Randolph-Macon (2)

106 pts.

3. Lynchburg

97 pts.

4. Virginia Wesleyan (1)

87 pts.

5. Bridgewater (1)

85 pts.

6. Roanoke

80 pts.

7. Emory & Henry

58 pts.

8. Shenandoah

53 pts.

9. Guilford

41 pts.

10. Eastern Mennonite

34 pts.

11. Randolph

21 pts.

12. Hollins

15 pts.