CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The University of New Hampshire volleyball team, led by 18th-year head coach Jill Hirschinger, was selected to finish fourth in the 2013 America East Preseason Coaches' Poll released Thursday by the league office.
|2013 America East Preseason Poll|
|Rank||Team||(1st-place votes) Points|
|4||New Hampshire||(1) 29|
Albany, winner of eight of the last nine regular-season titles, headlined the poll with 37 points, including three first-place votes.
Three-time America East tournament champion Binghamton placed second in the poll with 36 points and two first-place tallies. Slated for third, UMBC received 35 points and one first-place vote. UNH also received a first-place vote, registering 29 points and ranking fourth in the poll. The top three teams in the preseason poll are separated by just one point and one first-place vote. Stony Brook (25), Hartford (16), Providence (11) and UMass-Lowell (6) round out the remainder the field.
The Wildcats will seek to return to the America East playoffs for the third straight year and the 12th time under Hirschinger. The top four teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will qualify for the 2013 America East Championship, which will take place at the top seed on Nov. 22 and 23 or 23 and 24. The tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Volleyball Championship.
New Hampshire (15-14 overall, 7-5 America East) returns six-out-of seven starters and nearly every statistical leader from last season. America East All-Conference First Team selection Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) will serve as a co-captain again this year. The outside hitter helped lead the Wildcats atop America East with 12.55 kills per set. Assisting Thatcher is senior captain Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.). The right-side hitter registered 103 blocks last season, which ranked ninth best in program history. Her career tally of 227 blocks also ranks ninth in program history. A pair of all-rookie selections returns for their sophomore season. Outside hitters Brenna Buckwalter (Evergreen, Colo.) and Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) seek to build from last year's success.
The 'Cats begin their 2013 campaign on Friday, Aug. 30. New Hampshire will take part in the Lehigh Classic against the host Hawks at 7 p.m.