BOSTON-- The University of New Hampshire women's volleyball team was picked first in the America East conference preseason coaches poll on Thursday, Aug. 21.
The Wildcats garnered seven first-place votes and edged conference rival Northeastern University by six points with 49. Northeastern received one first place vote and tallied 43 points to capture second place in the poll. This is the fifth time in eight 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 2002 America East Coach of the Year, enters her eighth year as the head coach of the UNH volleyball. During that time, she has posted 141 victories and five 20-win seasons, which is most in school history, and she currently ranks 12th on the all-time NCAA wins list with 550 career coaching wins.
The Wildcats, who owned a 23-11 overall record in 2002, finished the conference schedule with a 11-1 record to win the regular-season championship. UNH went on to defeat Stony Brook for the school's second America East championship and a NCAA tournament berth. The 'Cats return 12 letterwinners and five starters, including senior co-captain Sasha Scott (North Branford, Conn.), who was named America East Defensive Specialist of the Year, and senior outside hitter Alyson Coler (Monte Sereno, Calif.), who was tabbed as the America East Player of the Year. The 'Cats feature two players from the Granite State in starting middle hitter Natasha Otte (Plymouth) and middle hitter Karen Harrington (Windham).
UNH opens the regular season Friday, August 29th at the University of Wisconsin Tournament. UNH faces host Wisconsin at 7 p.m.
America East Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll
Rk. Team (FPV) Pts.
1. New Hampshire (7) 49
2. Northeastern (1) 43
3. Albany 35
4. UMBC 29
5. Stony Brook 28
6. Maine 17
7. Hartford 13
8. Binghamton 10