BETHANY, W.Va. (Aug. 24) - The Bethany College volleyball team was tabbed to tie for second in the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) Preseason Coaches Poll announced Friday morning.
The Bison received three first-place votes and were tied with Washington and Jefferson for second place on the league's annual preseason poll. Westminster, who was the league runner-up and won the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament last season, claimed the remaining first-place votes and was named the preseason-favorite.
Head Coach Courtney Kline, now entering her 12th season at Bethany, returns nearly her entire roster from last year's team that went 23-13 overall and reached both the PAC Tournament Semifinals and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Quarterfinals.
Kline will need to replace the production of All-PAC First Team middle blocker Sumayyah Muhammad (graduation), but she will have a trio of other All-PAC performers returning to her roster, including senior Reilly Parker (North Huntingdon, Pa./Norwin). Parker emerged as one of the best defenders in the league last season on her way to All-PAC First Team honors. She slotted second in the PAC with 5.65 digs per set with a league-high 757 digs and eclipsed 30 digs in five matches. Parker was also a skilled server for the Bison, as she finished third in the conference with 0.44 service aces per set (59 total).
On offense, junior outside hitter Katie Sparks (Macedonia, Ohio/Trinity) will look to build off of her breakout sophomore campaign. She earned an All-PAC Second Team nod after leading the Bison and ranking fourth in the PAC with 3.37 kills per set (451 total) last season. Sparks was one of the most versatile players on the team, registering 16 kill-dig double-doubles, and ranking fourth on the team with 2.69 digs per set (361 total).
Sparks will be on the receiving end of passes from All-PAC Second Team sophomore setter Jenna Scott (Indianapolis, Ind./Liberty Christian) once again. Scott led the team and ranked third in the PAC with 8.04 assists per game and was the only player in the conference to toss around over 1,000 assists last season. She also finished fifth on the Bison with 2.20 digs per set (293 total), fourth with 43 service aces and chipped in 55 total blocks to tie for third on the team.
The team will also feature the return of both senior middle blocker Ashley Veryser (Cygnet, Ohio/Elmwood) and junior outside hitter Lindsey Llewellyn (Vermilion, Ohio/Norwalk St. Paul) on the front line. Veryser ranked second on the team with 0.55 blocks per set (72 total) and fourth with 112 kills (0.85 per set), while Llwellyn finished third on the squad with 1.93 kills per set (247 total).
Defensively, the Bison will also welcome back a pair of defensive specialists in senior Keili Terry (Leesburg, Va./Saint John's) and junior Maggie Merren (Oregon, Ohio/Clay). Last season, Terry ranked second on the team and third in the PAC with 55 service aces, while chipping in 403 digs to rank second on the team. Merren, who earned All-PAC Second Team honors as a freshman, appeared in all 36 matches and finished third on the team with 369 digs. She also ranked fourth on the team with 49 service aces and posted 19 double-digit dig games.
Kline and the Bison will open the season at the Haverford Invitational in Pennsylvania on Saturday and Sunday, September 1-2 with a quartet of non-conference matches. Bethany will open play with Farmindale State on the first day at 11 a.m.
|2018 PAC Women's Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll (Predicted order of finish)|
|School (first-place votes)||Points||2017 record (PAC)|
|1. Westminster College (5)||71||30-6 (15-3)|
|T-2. Bethany College (3)||66||24-12 (12-6)|
|T-2. Washington & Jefferson College (1)||66||14-11 (11-7)|
|4. Geneva College||50||13-21 (10-8)|
|5. Saint Vincent College||43||12-17 (5-13)|
|6. Chatham University||41||17-11 (8-10)|
|7. Thiel College||35||10-19 (4-14)|
|8. Grove City College||22||10-19 (7-11)|
|9. Waynesburg University||11||1-25 (0-18)|