~Wildcats to open season on Friday, Sept. 3rd vs. Toledo~
|Senior libero Jen Williams|
BOSTON- The University of New Hampshire women's volleyball team was picked first in the America East conference preseason coaches' poll, which was released on Wednesday, Aug. 18th by the conference office.
The Wildcats garnered six first-place votes and edged conference rival Northeastern University by six points with 48 points. Northeastern received one first place vote and tallied 42 points to capture second place in the poll. This is the sixth time in nine seasons that the Wildcats have been tabbed the America East preseason favorite heading into the year since head coach Jill Hirschinger arrived in 1996.
Hirschinger, the 2003 America East Coach of the Year, enters her ninth year as the head coach of the UNH volleyball program. During that time, she has posted 164 victories and six 20-win seasons, which is most in school history, and she currently ranks 10th on the all-time NCAA wins list with 573 career coaching wins.
The Wildcats, who owned a 23-12 overall record in 2003, finished the conference schedule with a 12-2 record to win the regular-season championship. UNH went on to defeat Northeastern for the school's third America East championship and a NCAA tournament berth against eventual national champion Southern California.
The 'Cats return 11 letterwinners and four starters, including America East All-Conference selection Erin Walker (Fulton, N.Y.), senior co-captain Natasha Otte (Plymouth, N.H.), junior middle hitter Karen Harrington (Windham, N.H.) and senior libero Jen Williams (Mountain View, Calif.).
UNH, which is seeking to become only the second team in the 13-year history of America East to three-peat as conference champions, opens the regular season Friday, Sept 3rd hosting Toledo in the first night of the Ocean National Bank Invitational at Lundholm Gymnasium.
America East Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll
Rk. Team (FPV) Pts.
1. New Hampshire (6) 48
2. Northeastern (1) 42
3. Albany (1) 38
4. Stony Brook 29
5. Binghamton 21
6. Maine 19
8. Hartford 8