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Eagles Picked to Finish Fourth; Pair Named Preseason All-Conference
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU volleyball squad, led by 2011 Preseason Libero of the Year Holly Youngquist (Estero, Fla./Evangelical Christian) and Jelena Simic’s (Lazarevac, Serbia/Seward County CC) preseason All-Conference selections, was tabbed to finish fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason coaches’ poll, the league announced on Tuesday.
Lipscomb was predicted to finish first in the A-Sun and received three of 10 possible first-place votes in the poll, while FGCU picked up a pair of first-place votes.
The Eagles were the only school to place multiple players on the preseason All-Conference team. Simic and Youngquist were joined by Belmont’s Maggie Johnson, ETSU’s Megan Devine, Lipscomb’s Katie Rose, Kennesaw State’s Alyssa Lang, Mercer’s Charlotte Harris and the lone unanimous selection UNF’s Paige Pridgeon.
“It is nice to see the conference coaches recognizing Holly and Jelena for the outstanding players they are despite the injuries they have both had to deal with,” said head coach Dave Nichols. “We are lucky to have two outstanding seniors who are so motivated to lead this program back to the top tier in the A-Sun. It is also nice to see some of the votes we received in terms of conference finish, but with seven new players and five freshmen, we have a lot of work to do to finish where we would like to. I am really looking forward to our 2011 season and I can’t wait to see Jelena and Holly both at full strength.”
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, third in 2009 (also picked to win the conference tournament) and second in 2010.
The Eagles have also boasted a player on the preseason team in each of the last four seasons. Simic and Youngquist received preseason honors in 2010, while former middle blocker Jacqueline Cowden was picked in 2009 and former outside hitter Ana Kokanovic and setter Roberta Santos earned the honor in 2008.
Simic, who utilized a medical redshirt last season, shined in 2009 as she earned Atlantic Sun All-Conference first team honors and 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. She also tallied double digit kills in 24 of 29 matches, including 15 or more 11 times.
Youngquist had a solid junior season where she earned All-Conference second team and A-Sun All-Academic honors and was named to the ESPN Academic All-District 3 second team. The libero, who played outside-hitter for the first time since high school, led the team in digs (389), service aces (17) and serve percentage (.928) and registered 54 assists and 44 kills to rank second and tenth on the team, respectively. She also ecorded double digit digs in 20 of 26 matches, including picking up 20 or more eight times.
The 2011 edition of the Eagles returns nine players, including a second team All-Conference performer in Youngquist and a 2010 All-Freshmen Team selection in Camil Dominguez (Santo Domingo, D.R./Santa Teresita). FGCU also welcomes seven newcomers to the program, including Marshall transfer Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS/Marshall) and Clemson transfer Brooke Kohler (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter HS/Clemson).
The Blue and Green will kick off the season on the road at the NCCU Tournament (Aug. 26-27) where they will take on Elon, Campbell and NCCU. The Eagles open their home slate by hosting the second annual FGCU Homewood Suites Volleyball Invitational from September 2-3. The invitational field includes USC, UCF and Furman.
FGCU season tickets can be purchased in person at the Alico Arena ticket office or by phone at 239-590-7145. Tickets are also available at www.FGCUathletics.com/tickets. The FGCU ticket office is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday.
2011 Volleyball Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team
|OH||* Paige Pridgeon (Jr.)||North Florida|
|OH||Maggie Johnson (Sr.)||Belmont|
|OH||Megan Devine (So.)||ETSU|
|OH||Jelena Simic (Sr.)||FGCU|
|MB||Katie Rose (Sr.)||Lipscomb|
|OH||Alyssa Lang (Sr.)||Kennesaw State|
|L||Holly Youngquist (Sr.)||FGCU|
|L||Charlotte Harris (Sr.)||Mercer|
|* - Unanimous Selection|
|Preseason Player of the Year: Maggie Johnson, Sr., OH, Belmont|
|Preseason Libero of the Year: Holly Youngquist, Sr., FGCU|
2011 Atlantic Sun Volleyball Preseason Poll
|Rank||School (First Place Votes)
|2.||Kennesaw State (2)||79|
|8.||North Florida (1)||44|
|Tournament Champion: Lipscomb (4 votes)|