Big South Announces 2012 Volleyball Preseason Poll and Honors

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.  (BigSouthSports.com) - The Liberty University volleyball team has been chosen first in the Big South Conference's annual preseason poll, as voted by the League's head volleyball coaches.  In addition, the coaches voted Liberty's Loren Thomas the Conference's Preseason Player of the Year, it was announced today by the Big South office. 

Liberty, under the direction of ninth-year head coach Shane Pinder, was picked to finish first for the second year in a row.   The Lady Flames received nine first-place votes and finished with 99 points.  Radford, last year's Big South Tournament runner-up, finished second in the poll with 78 points and received the remaining first-place vote.  Winthrop earned 74 points from the coaches to claim the third spot, while UNC Asheville was fourth with 59 points.  High Point placed fifth with 56 points, just ahead of Coastal Carolina and Campbell, who were voted sixth and seventh with 53 points and 47 points, respectively.  Presbyterian College's 45 points placed the Blue Hose in eighth and Gardner-Webb was picked No. 9 (28 points).   Charleston Southern rounded out the list with 11 points. 

Thomas, a senior middle blocker from Ocoee, Fla., was the 2011 Big South Tournament MVP in addition to First-Team All-Conference and VaSID All-State honors.  Last season, she led the Big South with 155 blocks and was 25th in the nation with 1.32 blocks per set.  Thomas posted the top two single-match block totals in Liberty's rally-scoring history, with 13 at Winthrop and 12 at Radford.  Thomas also ranked second on the team with 269 kills and a .268 attack percentage.  She totaled double-figures in kills 10 times and had 13 five-block matches.  During Conference play, she posted an average of 1.64 blocks and closed the regular season with a career-high 20 kills in a 3-2 victory at UNC Asheville.  Thomas received five first-place votes and 49 points to finish ahead of Presbyterian outside hitter Presley Mabrey, who notched three top votes and 35 points. 

Thomas and Mabrey also earned spots on the Preseason All-Conference team.  Both Liberty and Winthrop had two players named to the squad.  Joining Thomas was teammate Lillie Happel (outside hitter), while Winthrop setter Stephanie Palmer and libero Catherine Brusie represent the Eagles on the squad.  Earning the remaining spots were middle blocker Emma Deininger of Radford, right-side hitter Courtney Johnk of High Point and Coastal Carolina libero Jamie Dimaggio. 

The 2012 Big South volleyball season begins Friday, August 24, with 12 matches scheduled.   The Big South Volleyball Championship is slated for Thursday-Sunday, Nov.  15-18 on the campus of Gardner-Webb University.

2012 Big South Conference Preseason Volleyball Poll

RkTeam (first-place votes)12345678910Points
1.Liberty (9)

9

1

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

99

2.Radford (1)

1

2

3

2

2

--

--

--

--

--

78

3.Winthrop

--

3

--

5

2

--

--

--

--

--

74

4.UNC Asheville

--

1

1

--

3

4

1

--

--

--

59

5.

High Point

--

1

--

2

3

1

1

2

--

--

56

6.Coastal Carolina

--

1

2

1

--

1

2

2

1

--

53

7.Campbell

--

1

1

--

--

2

3

2

1

--

47

8.Presbyterian College

--

--

2

--

--

2

2

3

1

--

45

9.Gardner-Webb

--

--

1

--

--

--

1

1

6

1

28

10.Charleston Southern

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

1

9

11



Note: points are based on a weighted system, with first-place votes receiving 10 points, followed by 9 points for second-place, and so on. 

Preseason All-Conference Team
Loren Thomas, Sr., MB, Liberty
Presley Mabrey, Sr., OH, Presbyterian
Emma Deininger, So., MB, Radford
Stephanie Palmer, Jr., S, Winthrop
Lillie Happel, Jr., OH, Liberty
Courtney Johnk, Sr., RS/OPP, High Point
Jamie Dimaggio, Jr., LIB, Coastal Carolina
Catherine Brusie, So., LIB, Winthrop