PISCATAWAY, N.J. (August 21, 2013) – The Rutgers University women’s volleyball team was selected ninth in the 2013 American Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the league office announced Wednesday. RU received 21 points, just five behind eighth-place Houston. The votes were cast by the league’s 10 head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
Last year, the Scarlet Knights recorded one of its best seasons in recent history. Head Coach C.J. Werneke led his squad to an overall record of 18-12 (4-11 BIG EAST), marking the most wins for the program since the 2000 campaign. Additionally, Rutgers managed its first winning season since the 2004 team went 16-10 and notched its fourth straight campaign with double-digit victories.
Despite graduating two starters, the squad returns a solid core that played a critical role in the resurgence of the program last year, including senior defensive specialist, Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, N.J.), and sophomore outside Alex Lassa (Eagle, Colo.).
Wright came up with a team-high 356 digs (seventh on RU’s single-season list), despite an injury-shorted season, to help lead the squad in establishing itself as the third ranked defensive squad in the BIG EAST (16.7 digs/game).
Lassa looks to build on a solid freshman year, in which she led the team with 3.43 kills per set (sixth in the league). Lassa was recognized for her efforts by earning a spot on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll (Aug. 27) and being named to the Hurricane Invitational All-Tournament team. She finished the season with 11 double-doubles.
RU opens the 2013 season on the road in Bloomington, Ind. on Friday, August 30th at the Indiana Invitational. There, the Scarlet Knights will meet future Big Ten opponent, Indiana, while also facing Kent State and Robert Morris. Rutgers hosts its first home contest of the year on September 11th against in-state rival, Seton Hall, at 7 p.m. in the College Ave. Gym.
The University of Louisville was selected as the favorite for the inaugural season of the American in 2013, receiving 79 points and seven first place votes. Last year, the Cardinals captured their second consecutive BIG EAST title. The University of Central Florida (69), Connecticut (59), Cincinnati (53) and South Florida (49) round out the top-five.
The American Athletic Conference, based in Providence, R.I., rebranded on July 1, 2013. In its inaugural year, The American is fortunate to be able to draw from the previous successes and traditions already established in its 10 inaugural women's volleyball programs. The volleyball season will start on August 30, with team’s facing nonconference opponents. There is no championship tournament for women’s volleyball in the inaugural season of the conference. The regular season champion will be rewarded with an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship.
The American Athletic Conference comprises the following 10 member institutions: the University of Central Florida; University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, University of Houston, University of Louisville, University of Memphis, Rutgers University, Southern Methodist University, University of South Florida, and Temple University.
2013 American Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll
School (First Place Votes) Points
1. Louisville (7) 79
2. UCF (2) 69
3. UConn (1) 59
4. Cincinnati 53
5. USF 49
6. SMU 41
7. Temple 36
8. Houston 26
9. Rutgers 21
10. Memphis 17
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