HIGH POINT, N.C. - Conference Carolinas men’s volleyball head coaches recently voted on the 2012 preseason polls. Mount Olive took the number one position with Lees-McRae and King following behind closely to round out the top three spots. Pfeiffer University was picked to finish fifth in the six-team league, soon growing to nine teams in 2013 as Conference Carolinas continues to expand and gain national recognition on the men’s volleyball stage.
Two-time defending Conference Carolinas champion Mount Olive College returns five starters, including two all-conference players and the MVP of last year’s conference championship match. Outside hitters Angel Dache and Adam Miracle earned All-Conference Carolinas honors and middle blocker John Nunns was named Most Valuable Player of the Conference Carolinas Men’s Volleyball Championship. The Trojans have won both the regular season and conference championships in each of the two years men’s volleyball has been a conference sport.
Mount Olive posted a 20-7 overall record and a 7-1 mark in conference play in 2011. The Trojans received votes in the year-end Asics/Volleyball Magazine Top 10 Poll, finishing among the top 13 in the nation overall. The national ranking was the first ever in Trojan men’s volleyball history.
The Trojans were among the team and individual NCAA statistics leaders last year. Mount Olive had the top team hitting percentage in the nation and ranked second in aces per set. Setter Jackson Mettechecchia led the nation in assists, Dache ranked fourth in the nation in aces and Miracle compiled the sixth highest hitting percentage.
Lees-McRae College is second in this year’s preseason poll after finishing last season tied for second in the conference standings with a 5-3 mark against league opponents. The Bobcats posted a 16-10 overall record last season, registering a trio of victories over NCAA Division I opponents while pushing No. 11 Penn State University to five sets.
Lees-McRae returns 11 letter-winners from last year’s squad, including rising sophomores Eduardo Gonzales , Chris Flood , John Lucas, Matt Harpenau, and Randy Ramirez.
King College comes in at the third spot in this year’s poll. The Tornado made a late-season surge to advance to the Conference Carolinas championship game before succumbing to Mount Olive in a tough, straight set loss.
After losing the Conference Player of the Year in Joel Salva to graduation, King will look to returning opposite hitter and all-conference selection James Friddle. Friddle returns as the team leader in kills (159, 2.79) and is primed to repeat those numbers and perhaps surpass the school record for single-season and career kills. King looks to improve upon a 2011 season where they finished 11-9 overall and 5-3 against league opponents.
Limestone finished fourth in the poll with Pfeiffer fifth followed by first year program Barton respectively rounding-out the poll standings. The league’s men’s volleyball programs take another step forward this year moving from an emerging sport to a fully-sponsored conference sport. Barton added the required sixth league team to the mix this year with Belmont Abbey, Coker, and Erskine announcing new teams for next year’s 2013 season. A four team conference tournament championship will determine the eventual league title holder this April.
Conference Carolinas Men's Volleyball Preseason Poll (# of First Place Votes)
1. Mount Olive - (5) 25
2. Lees-McRae - 19
3. King - (1) 17
4. Limestone - 14
5. Pfeiffer - 10
6. Barton - 6