CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The University of New Hampshire volleyball team, led by 14th-year head coach Jill Hirschinger, was selected third in the 2009 America East Preseason Coaches Poll that was released Tuesday by the league office.

Binghamton University topped the poll with 26 points and four first-place votes. UNH received a total of 17 points just two points shy of three-time reigning champion Albany (19; two first-place votes) and one point ahead of UMBC (16 points). Rounding out the six-team field were Stony Brook (9) and Hartford (5).

The top four teams in the league will advance to the America East Championship, which will be played Nov. 20-21 or 21-22 at the site of the highest seed. The winner of the tourney will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats (7-21 overall, 4-8 America East in 2008) are looking for their fourth tournament title, return six starters and all but three letterwinners from last year’s squad. Seniors Kirsten Bates (Calgary, Alberta) and Lindsay Fogarty (Pleasanton, Calif.), both All-Conference selections a year ago, lead a deep group returners, UNH also returns senior setter Kate Uitti (Pinckney, Mich.) who assumed the starting position as a freshman and has amassed 2,653 assists over her first three years.

The UNH volleyball team open its 2009 campaign Friday, August 28 at the Syracuse Tournament with the host Orange at 7 p.m. New Hampshire will also play Sacramento St. and Siena on the second day of competition. UNH’s home opener will be Sept. 1, when the ‘Cats play Bentley University in an exhibition match; tickets are available for all home games online at www.unhwildcats.com.

2009 Preseason Poll
Rank  Team (1st-place votes) Total

1. Binghamton (4)        26
2. Albany (2)        19
3. New Hampshire    17
4. UMBC            16
5. Stony Brook        9
6. Hartford            5

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