Jags Picked Fourth In Peach Belt

Jags Picked Fourth In Peach Belt

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The GRU Augusta Volleyball program landed at No. 4 Wednesday afternoon when the Peach Belt Conference preseason coach's poll was announced.

After winning both the PBC regular-season title and tournament championship crown in 2012, the Armstrong Pirates have been voted the team to beat in 2013 in a poll of coaches released Wednesday. Armstrong received seven first-place votes and finished with 79 points in the poll. Flagler finished second with 75 while Montevallo was third and GRU Augusta a close fourth, just two points behind the Falcons. USC Aiken, Lander, Francis Marion, Columbus State, UNC Pembroke and Georgia College rounded out the voting.

Armstrong captured the PBC regular-season and tournament championships in the same season for the second time in school history last year. 33-6 overall and 13-1 in league play, Armstrong also hosted the NCAA Southeast Regional for the first time. Coming into 2013, the Pirates will have to replace three All-Conference seniors including 2011 Player of the Year Brittany Wolf and 2012 Player of the Year Ashley Seal. However, first-team All-Conference selection Jessica Santaniello returns for her senior season along with junior libero Stephanie Sfara, who was named to the PBC preseason All-Conference team yesterday.

In their four years as a part of the Peach Belt, Flagler has played in all four PBC Tournament championship games, including the 2012 title match, and played in four straight NCAA Tournaments. For 2013 the Saints return six letterwinners from last year's 22-11 squad, four of them starters. Among the returners is sophomore setter Amelia Morgan, who led the PBC in assists last year, and senior outside hitter Emilee Taylor who was named first-team All-Conference last season.

Under fifth-year head coach Sharon Bonaventure, GRU Augusta enjoyed its best conference finish since 2009 last year as the Jaguars went 19-15 overall and 6-8 in league play. The Jags reached the semifinal round of the PBC Tournament for the first time since 2007 and return eight letterwinners from that team for 2013. Jenna Keeler will be the lone senior on the squad in 2013 after earning PBC All-Conference honors (second team) last season.

Montevallo finished 2012 in a tie for fourth in the PBC standings with a 6-8 league record, 15-17 overall. The Falcons return three seniors from that squad including first-team All-Conference selection Manyi Ati, who was second in the PBC with a .319 hitting percentage. Also back are seniors Kaleigh Harvey and Michelle Carle.

The 2013 PBC volleyball landscape has changed as Columbus State and Georgia College prepare to field teams for the first time. They will be the first new volleyball teams in the PBC since 2009 when Flagler and Montevallo joined the league and will give the PBC 10 volleyball schools for the first time in league history.

With GC and CSU both immediately eligible for postseason play, 2013 will also be the first year that not every team advances to the PBC Tournament. Only the top eight schools in the regular-season standings will make the trip to Florence, S.C., Nov. 22-24. The tournament will be hosted by Francis Marion.

The 2013 preseason coach's poll is listed below. Teams were given nine points for a first-place vote, eight for a second and so on. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.

2013 Peach Belt Conference Preseason Coach's Poll

 

1.

Armstrong

7

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

79

2.

Flagler

3

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

75

3.

Montevallo

0

1

1

0

6

2

0

0

0

53

4.

GRU Augusta

0

1

1

5

0

1

0

1

0

51

5.

USC Aiken

0

0

4

1

1

2

0

1

0

49

6.

Lander

0

0

1

2

1

2

3

0

0

41

7.

Francis Marion

0

0

2

2

0

2

1

1

0

39

8.

Columbus State

0

0

0

0

2

1

2

3

1

27

9.

UNC Pembroke

0

0

1

0

0

0

2

2

4

21

10.

Georgia College

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

2

5

15

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