ASHEVILLE — Following a 20-win season, the St. Andrews women’s volleyball program was selected to finish eighth in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, according to the coaches preseason poll released Thursday.
Last season, head coach Holly Mandeville led the Lady Knights to a 20-10 overall record and went 13-5 in conference play. The Lady Knights begin their season with a scrimmage at Sandhills Community College next Wednesday, Aug. 15. St. Andrews opens regular season play on Aug. 25 at home against Fayetteville State University.
Reinhardt University out of Georgia is the favorite to win this year’s AAC championship collecting 13 of the 14 first-place votes, earning 195 voting points.
Reinhardt put together its best season in program history in 2017, winning the AAC regular-season title with a 17-1 league record. The Lady Eagles advanced to the AAC tournament championship game and qualified for the NAIA National Championship and finished the campaign with a 29-7 overall record.
Union College of Kentucky is tabbed to finish second, having received the remaining first-place vote and 177 voting points. The Lady Bulldogs won the 2017 AAC tournament title, the program’s fourth in a row, and advanced to the NAIA National Championship opening round. Union College ended the year with a 31-11 overall record.
Point University finished third in the preseason poll with 169 points. The Lady Hawks finished last season 19-9 overall and 13-5 in league play.
Rounding out the top five are Montreat College with 159 points and Bluefield College out of Virginia with 128 points.
Milligan College out of Tennessee with 120 points, Allen University out of South Carolina with 110 points, St. Andrews University with 98 points, Bryan College of Tenn. with 78 points, and Tennessee Wesleyan University with 75 points made up the rest of the top 10.
Completing the poll are Brenau University of Georgia with 73 points, Truett McConnell University of Ga. with 59 points, Columbia College of S.C. with 32 points, and Columbia International University of S.C. with 27 points.
The top eight teams in the conference will advance to the 2018 AAC Tournament, which is set for Nov. 8-10 at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center.