A-Sun Coaches Tab FGCU as Preseason Favorite to win Conference Tournament
Thursday, August 20, 2009

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Florida Gulf Coast has dominated Atlantic Sun volleyball in its first two seasons as a Division I institution (2007, 2008), and the league’s coaches picked the Eagles to repeat that feat in 2009, the conference office announced on Thursday.

The Eagles, who are eligible for postseason play for the first time, were picked to finish the regular season in third place and received three first place votes. Though the Eagles weren't preseason favorites to win the regular season championship, they were selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2009 A-Sun Volleyball Tournament, which will be held at FGCU’s Alico Arena. Lipscomb was predicted to finish first in the A-Sun and received five of 11 possible first-place votes in the poll, followed by last year’s tournament champion Belmont.

Lipscomb and Belmont were the only two schools to place multiple players on the preseason All-Conference team, as Alex Kelly and Stefine Pease of Lipscomb and Belmont’s Channing Salava (2008 Freshman of the Year) and Jenny Gray earned selections. They will be joined by Jacksonville’s Shelly Walroth, UNF’s Kaley Read, Mercer’s Libby Hansch, and FGCU’s Jacqueiline Cowden (Danville, Calif.).

Kelly, the 2008 A-Sun Player of the Year, added to her preseason accolades as the coaches’ tabbed her as the Preseason Player of the Year.

Jacksonville placed fourth in the poll, followed by Mercer, The 2006 regular season champion ETSU Buccaneers, UNF, Kennesaw State, Campbell, Stetson, and USC Upstate.

FGCU’s Alico Arena will play host to the conference championship for the first time on November 19-21.

The Atlantic Sun Conference is an 11-member league committed to Building Winners for Life, with a focus on academic and athletic integrity and a balance between the two for the student-athlete, and maintaining a high level of sportsmanship. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun encompasses six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun consists of some of the most dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, Campbell University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.

Preseason Poll:
1. Lipscomb
2. Belmont
4. Jacksonville
5. Mercer
7. UNF
8. Kennesaw State
9. Campbell
10. Stetson
11. USC Upstate

Tournament Champ: FGCU

Preseason All-Conference Team:
Shelly Walroth - JU
Alex Kelly - Lip
Stefine Pease - Lip
Channing Salava - Bel
Jenny Gray - Bel
Kaley Read - Bel
Jacqueline Cowden - FGCU
Libby Hansch - Mer

Preseason Player of the Year: Alex Kelly, Lip