By Emily Patton
Although Head Coach Travis Hudson said he doesn’t like to look at the preseason polls, it is something that he will use as a fuel for his athletes.
The Lady Toppers volleyball team was voted to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference East Division by SBC coaches, the league announced Thursday.
Junior Tiffany Elmore was also named to the preseason All-SBC Team.
Western received 51 points and one first-place vote. The Lady Tops were picked to finish behind Middle Tennessee, ranked first with 65 points and six first-place votes and Florida International, who finished with 63 points and five first-place votes.
“I’m not completely surprised,” Hudson said. “Both teams that finished in front of us were those who beat us last year, but they both took significant hits from graduation.”
According to Hudson, the polls are heavily based on last year’s performances, including the reason behind Elmore’s place on the preseason team.
“Tiffany played so strongly for us last year, so it just makes sense we see her on here again,” Hudson said. “She is an all-conference caliber type of player.”
Elmore is the only returning Lady Topper who was named on the All-SBC team in 2009. In last year’s play, she posted a .331 hitting percentage in 114 sets, 94 blocks, and ranked second on the team with 265 kills.
“As the season goes on, you’ll see more Lady Toppers show up on that list,” Hudson said.
Western’s season kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday against Purdue on the Boilermakers’ home court in West Lafayette, Ind., as part of the Mortar Board Premier tournament.
PRESEASON VOLLEYBALL POLL
1. Middle Tennessee – 66 points (6 first place votes)
2. FIU – 63 points (5 first place votes)
3. WKU – 51 points (1 first place vote)
4. Troy – 28 points
5. Florida Atlantic, South Alabama – 22 points
1. Denver – 68 points (8 first place votes)
2. Arkansas State – 57 points (4 first place votes)
3. UALR – 47 points
4. North Texas – 43 points
5. Louisiana-Lafayette – 24 points
6. Louisiana-Monroe – 13 points
PRESEASON ALL-SUN BELT CONFERENCE VOLLEYBALL TEAM
Natalia Valentin, FIU
Izabela Kozon, Middle Tennessee
Cayla Fielder, Arkansas State
Jovana Bjelica, FIU
Stacy Oladinni, Middle Tennessee
Maria Szivos, Middle Tennessee
Tiffany Elmore, WKU
Kacie Wikierak, Denver