Eagles Picked to Finish Second; Simic and Youngquist Named Preseason All-Conference
Thursday, August 19, 2010

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU volleyball squad, led by senior Jelena Simic (Lazarevac, Serbia/Seward County CC) and junior Holly Youngquist’s (Estero, Fla./Evangelical Christian) preseason All-Conference selections, was tabbed to finish second in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason coaches’ poll, the league announced on Thursday.

Lipscomb was predicted to finish first in the A-Sun and received 10 of 11 possible first-place votes in the poll. The Bisons and Eagles were the only two schools to place multiple players on the preseason All-Conference team, as Alex Kelly, Meghan Hinemeyer and Stefine “Jake” Pease of Lipscomb and FGCU’s duo of Simic and Youngquist earned selections. They were joined by Belmont’s Maggie Johnson, UNF’s Paige Pridgeon and Campbell’s Emily Werner. Kelly and Simic were the only players that were unanimous selections.

“We are very honored to be picked second in the preseason poll,” said FGCU head coach Dave Nichols. “I think we are kind of an unknown with the amount of new starters this year, but it reflects well on the deep bench and abilities of our newcomers. Obviously with Jelena being a potential player of the year, and with the superb play of Holly, coaches felt we had a nice base to work with. I feel that if we stay healthy we really have some good options and enough depth to bring players off the bench who can help us on nights when we are out of sync.”

Since joining the A-Sun, the Blue and Green have been predicted to finish in the top four every season. FGCU was picked to finished fourth in 2007, first in 2008, and third in 2009 (also picked to win the conference tournament).

The Eagles have also boasted a player on the preseason team in each of the last three seasons. Current senior middle Jacqueline Cowden (Danville, Calif./Temple) was picked in 2009 and former outside hitter Ana Kokanovic and setter Roberta Santos earned the honor in 2008.

Head coach Dave Nichols returns 11 players from the 2009 club that was the runner-up at the 2009 Atlantic Sun Volleyball Championships and went 15-5 in the A-Sun to finish the regular season in third place.

Simic, a senior from Lazarevac, Serbia, shined last season as she earned 2009 A-Sun All-Conference first team honors and 2009 A-Sun All-Tournament team accolades. The outside hitter started 29 matches for the Eagles, averaging 3.81 kills per set and 4.18 points per set, which ranked second and third in the conference, respectively.

Fellow Eagle Youngquist joined Simic on the preseason All-Atlantic Sun squad. The junior from Estero, Fla., had a solid sophomore season where she earned A-Sun All-Academic honors. The libero was one of two Eagles to play in every set in 2009, finishing fifth in the A-Sun in digs per set at 4.06. Her 26 digs in FGCU’s 3-0 win over Campbell in the conference quarterfinals were the fourth-most in a three-set match during in the A-Sun last season.

FGCU will kick off the season by hosting the 2010 Homewood Suites Volleyball Classic from August 27-28, where they will take on Bethune-Cookman, UCF, FAU, and Houston Baptist.

Tickets for the 2010 Homewood Suites Volleyball Classic can be purchased through the FGCU Ticket Office in Alico Arena either in person or by phone at (239) 590-7145. Tickets are also available at www.FGCUathletics.com/tickets. All Tournament passes, valid for all games during the tournament, will be $10 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 3-18). Admission for FGCU faculty, staff, and students is free.

FGCU’s Alico Arena will play host to the conference championship for the second consecutive year on November 18-20.

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 Player of the Year: Stefine "Jake" Pease, S, Lipscomb

Atlantic Sun Preseason Poll

 Pl.  School (1st)   Points 
 1.  Lipscomb (10)
 2.  FGCU  103
 3.  Belmont  97
 4.  Jacksonville (1)
 5.  Kennesaw State
 6.  Campbell  60
 7.  ETSU  59
 8.  Mercer  49
 9.  UNF  47
 10.  USC Upstate
 11.  Stetson  12
Tournament Champion: Lipscomb (10 votes)


Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team
 Pos.  Name (Class)    School 
 OH  Meghan Hinemeyer (Sr.)   Lipscomb
 OH  Maggie Johnson (Jr.)  Belmont
 MB  *Alex Kelly (Sr.)  Lipscomb
 S  Stefine "Jake" Pease (Sr.)  Lipscomb 
 OH  Paige Pridgeon (Sr.)   UNF
 OH  *Jelena Simic (Sr.)   FGCU
 OH  Emily Werner (Sr.)   Campbell
 Holly Youngquist (Jr.)   FGCU

* - Unanimous Selection
** A tie in the voting resulted in 7 at-large candidates making the team