CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern volleyball was picked 10th in the annual Big South Conference Preseason Coaches' poll, as announced by the conference office on Tuesday.
Head Coach Christy Mooberry's team received 15 votes in the poll voted on by the head volleyball coaches around the Big South Conference as the Buccaneers look ahead to preseason beginning in the next two weeks in preparations for the 2014 regular season.
CSU returns a majority of their rotation from their lineup last season, including a trio of juniors in 2013 All-Academic selection Meredith Parrott, and outside hitters Siraya Windsor and Katrina Houston to the floor in Mooberry's second year with the program.
"While the preseason poll shows others' perception of us; we, as a team, expect much more out of ourselves," Mooberry said. "I've seen continued progress through the spring both in skill and the mental side of our game. They are excited to compete and we expect to surprise some people."
Parrott finished second on the team in hitting percentage and blocks last season lining up at middle blocker with the Bucs, hitting at a .232 clip while averaging 0.75 blocks per set. Houston returns after leading CSU in kills per set with 2.60, while Windsor led the team in service aces with 30 and was second on the team in digs in averaging 2.58 per set.
Other key returners to the floor this season include junior Cassidy Greer (8.12 assists per set), sophomore Taylor Allman (1.65 digs per set) and senior Kirsten Strusknes (4.50 assist per set). Also returning to the floor is redshirt junior libero Ashley Higginbothem (3.56 digs per set) who missed the entirety of last season due to injury. Connor Malone will also see her first action on the floor with the Bucs after transferring in from Northern State-Aberdeen in the spring.
Mooberry will look to blend in the Bucs' returning core to a strong incoming freshman class against a tough Big South slate on the season.
"I'm excited about our returners and the incoming class," Mooberry commented. "Our returners know the level of expectation and they will be great leaders for the incoming class to follow. The freshmen will add depth and more energy to the court. I believe it is a solid mix and that both groups will make the other stronger. We have some work to do, but I'm excited to see our progress through the season."
The Radford University volleyball team was chosen first in the Big South Conference's annual preseason poll, while Highlanders' outside hitter Rachel Wiechecki was voted the Conference's Preseason Player of the Year.
Coastal Carolina finished second in the preseason poll at 90 points, while Liberty was third with 82 points. Both teams claimed two first-place votes. High Point was voted fourth with 75 points, Winthrop fifth with 55 and UNC Asheville sixth with 37. Campbell was voted seventh with 36 points, followed by Gardner-Webb (eighth, 35), Presbyterian College (ninth, 32) and Charleston Southern (10th, 15 points).
The 2014 Big South volleyball season begins Friday, Aug. 29, with 14 matches scheduled. The Big South Volleyball Championship is slated for Nov. 20-23, hosted at Costal Carolina University in Conway, S.C.