AUGUSTA, Ga. - In one of the closest results ever, the Augusta University volleyball team was voted second in the Peach Belt Conference preseason volleyball coaches poll and were one vote out of first place. The PBC released the preseason poll on Friday and USC Aiken earned two first-place votes and 31 total points, just one ahead of second-place Augusta, who finished with three first-place votes. Lander was third and Flagler fourth, both also getting first-place votes. Georgia College, Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke rounded out the voting.
USC Aiken won their third PBC regular-season championship in four years last season. Despite a setback in the PBC Tournament, USCA stormed their way through the NCAA Southeast Regional, reaching the championship game as the last PBC team standing. USC Aiken was 11-1 in conference play a year ago and are poised to make another championship run in 2019. The Pacers return five seniors this year, including PBC co-Player of the Year Christine Carroll and PBC Libero of the Year Rebecca Martinez, who led NCAA Division II in digs per set. Also back is All-Conference junior Alie Smith, who was named to the preseason All-Conference team.
Augusta won its first PBC Tournament in school history in 2018 and is ranked second in the preseason poll for the first time. The Jaguars also made their second-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season to put a cap on a 24-8 regular-season record, their highest win total since 2014. The 2019 team will be led by seniors Jessica Hedrick and Payton Murchie along with eight juniors, including All-Conference middle hitter Chloe Allen. Hedrick and Allen we're also named to the 2019 PBC preseason All-Conference team.
The preseason coaches poll is listed below. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.
|1.||USC Aiken (2)||31|