2010 Tachikara-NAIA Volleyball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll Released
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For the third-straight year, Fresno Pacific University (Calif.) will begin the season at No. 1 in the Tachikara-NAIA Volleyball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll, announced by the NAIA on Tuesday. The Sunbirds secured all 19 possible first-place votes, earning 529 points and extending their streak to 35 consecutive weeks as the nation's top-ranked team. Fresno Pacific and the Golden State Athletic Conference swept the top three spots with Concordia University (Calif.) coming in at No. 2 and California Baptist University at No. 3. The GSAC teams are followed by No. 4 Lee University (Tenn.) and No. 5 Northwestern College (Iowa). The GSAC leads all conferences with six teams ranked in the top 25, five of which are in the top 10.
Fresno Pacific concluded its 2009 season with a 38-0 overall record and a third-straight national title, defeating Georgetown College (Ky.), 25-15, 25-18, 25-12. Setting out to reach an unprecedented fourth consecutive national title, head coach Dennis Janzen returns his entire roster with the exception of two players. Leading the Sunbirds will be 2009 NAIA All-American's Lisa Shilling, Martina Gregusova, and Keke Wang. The Sunbirds begin the 2010 season on Friday with the Paul Elliott Invitational, hosted by Southern Oregon University.
Combining new talent with 11 returning letter-winners, Concordia holds down the No. 2 spot in the poll. The Eagles, who advanced to the Tachikara-NAIA National Championship semifinal round last fall, will try to improve on their 30-8 record. Second-year head coach Kyle Kyasnicka will turn to senior Amber Riddens, who was a 2009 NAIA All-America second-team selection after racking up a team-high 377 kills, 70 aces, and 62 blocks.
With 487 points, California Baptist claims the No. 3 position. Head coach Ryan McGuyre, entering his 12th season as the Lancers coach, returns First-Team All-American Ingrid Carmona and boasts a strong international recruiting class, highlighted by Jelena and Nevena Dragovic of Belgrade, Serbia and Linjun Ji of Shanghai, China. The Lancers made an early exit at the National Championship in the quarterfinals to runner-up Georgetown.
After finishing the 2009 regular season at No. 19 in the polls, Lee jumps 15 spots to occupy the No. 4 position with 448 points. With a perfect record in the Southern States Athletic Conference (12-0), the Lady Flames finished strong by upsetting Northwestern in the National Championship quarterfinals, but came up short in a tight battle between Georgetown.
Rounding out the top five is a Northwestern squad led by head coach Kyle Van Den Bosch. Under Van Den Bosch, the Red Raiders have reached the quarterfinals three straight years and will look to make it five consecutive national tournament appearances this season. Northwestern will kick off the season at home with the Red Raider Classic where it will meet No. 6 Biola (Calif.) in the first day of the tournament on Friday, Aug. 27.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences. The next poll will be announced on Sept. 7.
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