PAWTUCKET, R.I. – The University of Massachusetts Boston has been named the 2017 preseason favorites by the eight LEC coaches. The Beacons earned six of the eight first place votes and finished with 48 points. This is the ninth-straight season the UMass Boston has been named a preseason favorite.
Head coach Mike Houlihan returns 11 players and four starters from last year’s squad ,which finished 29-5 (7-0 LEC), including Eileen Shi, who was named Second Team All-Conference a season ago. Shi led the LEC with 57 service aces last season and finished fifth in the conference with 363 kills. The Beacons will have to replace four-time Offensive Player of the Year Julia Murphy and four-time Defensive Player of the Year Elizabeth Glavan.
Eastern Connecticut State ranked second in the poll, receiving one first place vote and 36 points. The Warriors finished tied for third last season with a record of 19-12 (4-3 LEC). Head coach Megan Silver Droesch will have to replace the top-two offensive weapons for the Warriors and will look to senior Carly Balskus to fill the void. Balskus finished last season with 179 kills (1.74 kill/set). Libero Michelle Valliere returns for her senior year and led the Warriors with 3.81 digs/set.
Plymouth State took home the last first-place vote and earned 34 points to finish third in the poll. The Panthers finished second last season compiling a 20-11 (6-1 LEC) record before falling to UMass Boston in the LEC championship match. Only three starters from last year’s squad return for head coach Chris Kilmer, whose squad will be anchord by senior libero Brenna Peruch. Peruch was named Second Team All-Conference after finished fourth in the LEC with 4.21 digs/set.
Western Connecticut State tied for third in the poll with 34 points after the Colonials finished 2016 tied for third in the conference 20-11 (4-3 LEC). Head coach Don Ferguson lost a strong senior class but returns junior Kamari King who was second on the squad last year with 2.38 kills/set. The Colonials brought in a solid recruiting class that should see time on the court this season.
Rounding out the 2017 LEC Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll is Keene State (31 points), University of Southern Maine (22 points), Rhode Island College (11 points) and UMass Dartmouth (nine points).
2017 Little East Conference Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. UMass Boston – 47 (6)
2. East Connecticut State – 36 (1)
3. Plymouth State – 34 (1)
Western Connecticut State – 34
5. Keene State – 31
6. Southern Maine – 22
7. Rhode Island College – 11
8. UMass Dartmouth - 9
The LEC volleyball play will consist of each team meeting each other once during the regular season, with interleague matches set to begin on September 15. The top six teams in the final regular season conference standings will participate in the 2017 LEC Volleyball Championship, with the top two seeds earning first round byes into the semifinals and ends with the highest-remaining seeded team hosting the LEC Championship. The tournament is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, November 31, with the championship match set for November 4.
Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes. Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.