Related: USA South Release
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- With consecutive regular season USA South divisional championships, the Covenant volleyball team was once again picked as the preseason favorite in the West Division of the league as the conference released its annual preseason coaches' poll on Thursday.
Covenant, under fifth-year head coach Joanna Ehman, went 12-3 in conference play last season en route to a USA South West Division championship. This year, the Lady Scots return five starters and the libero, and 11 players overall.
The Lady Scots received seven of the eight first-place votes in the division and had 49 total points. It is the second straight year that Covenant has topped the preseason poll. Maryville collected the other first place vote and totaled 42 points. Piedmont (38 points), LaGrange (29 points) and Huntingdon (27 points) rounded out the top five in the division.
In the East, Averett claimed first with six first-place votes and 62 points. Meredith, the defending conference tournament champion, had two first place tallies and 57 points while William Peace garnered the final first place vote and had 51 points.
Covenant will again compete in the West Division of the conference in 2017. The Lady Scots are joined by Agnes Scott, Berea, Brevard, Huntingdon, LaGrange, Maryville, Piedmont and Wesleyan in the division. Brevard is a reclassifying member of NCAA Division III and is not eligible for regular season or postseason championships this season.
The USA South Tournament will begin on Oct. 31 with the top six teams from each division qualifying. Seeds 1-2 in each division will host first round and quarterfinal round matches on Oct. 31 before the tournament moves to the highest remaining seed on Nov. 3-4 for the semifinals and championship.
Covenant opens the season on Sept. 1 against Sewanee in Birmingham, Ala.
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