MARSHFIELD, Mass. – Defending champions Elms College top the 2018 NECC Women's Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll, collecting 98 points, including nine first place selections. The Blazers, led by 2017 NECC Coach of the Year, Sheila Gisbrecht, are returning key contributors from last year's championship team, highlighted by the reigning NECC Women's Volleyball Rookie of the Year, and First Team All-NECC selection, Dakota Stewart (Victoria, Texas). The setter led the league in assists per set, with 8.50 in regular season conference play, while also adding 2.18 digs per set in her freshman campaign. Also returning for the Blazers is 2017 First Team All-NECC selection, Danielle Redding (Las Vegas, N.V.), who led Elms with 3.09 kills per set.
Landing in second with 79 total points is newcomer New England College, who will play their first year in the NECC in 2018. In 2017, the Pilgrims reached North Atlantic Conference (NAC) postseason play in only their first year as a varsity program. First-year head coach Kirsten Morrison will lead a young squad with four returners, including two NAC All-Conference performers, libero Meaghan Six (Manchester, N.H.) and middle hitter Dreka Griffin (Calera, Ala.). Six led the Pilgrims with 3.81 digs per set, while Griffin led her squad with 2.49 kills per set.
Finishing third in the polls with 71 points, including the remaining first place vote, is Eastern Nazarene College. Eastern Nazarene is also new to the NECC, finishing with an 11-19 record in their final season in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC). The Lions will look to second-year head coach Derek Schmitt to lead a squad that returns five starters from a season ago, including Courtney McCarthy (Merrimack, N.H.) and McKenzie Walling (Rock Hill, S.C.) who led the Lions with 3.34 kills per set, and 3.04 digs per set, respectively.
Becker College was voted into the fourth slot, with a total of 61 points. The Hawks will look to their four returning starters to make their mark in conference play, led by senior Kayla Dupree (North Bergen, N.J.) who was an All-NECC Second team performer in 2017. Dupree led the Hawks with 2.36 kills per set.
Coming in right behind Becker is Lesley University and Southern Vermont College, with 58 and 57 points, respectively. Lesley, led by second year head coach Jim Ray, returns four starters from a team that reached the NECC Championship in 2017, while Southern Vermont is also coming off of a postseason appearance in 2017, under head coach Pat Robidoux.
Dean College (53), Bay Path University (29), Mitchell College (22) and Newbury College (22) round out the 2018 NECC Women's Volleyball Preseason Poll.
2018 NECC Women's Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Elms- 98 (9)
2. New England College- 79
3. Eastern Nazarene- 71 (1)
4. Becker- 61
5. Lesley- 58
6. Southern Vermont- 57
7. Dean- 53
8. Bay Path- 29
T9. Mitchell- 22
T9. Newbury- 22