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Panthers picked third in LEC pre-season poll

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Three-time defending Little East Conference champion Western Connecticut State University collected four of the eight first-place votes and claimed the top spot in the annual pre-season women's volleyball poll of the league's head coaches.

The Colonials, which compiled a 22-12 overall record and a perfect 7-0 league slate a year ago, has concluded each of the past three campaigns with an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and enters the 2002 sporting a 23-conference match unbeaten streak, dating back to 1998.

Western will be attempting to equal the accomplishments of 2002 poll runner-up Eastern Connecticut, which captured four consecutive league titles from 1995-98. In the last three years, Eastern has bowed to Western in the finals of the conference tournament. A year ago, ECSU finished second in the regular season with a 6-1 mark while posting a 21-11 overall record.

Plymouth State College received one first-place vote and finished third in this year's poll, while the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth got the remaining first-place vote and finished fourth. The two schools concluded the regular season last fall in a tie for third with identical 4-3 records. Overall, PSC compiled a 17-14 mark while UMD registered a 25-8 ledger.

Keene State College (11-16 last year) and Rhode Island College (11-21) tied for fifth in this year's poll. Rounding out the picks were the University of Southern Maine (16-14) and the University of Massachusetts Boston (15-17).

2002 LEC Pre-Season Coaches Poll

1. Western Connecticut (4)........ 60

2. Eastern Connecticut (2)......... 56

3. Plymouth State (1)................ 46

4. UMass Dartmouth (1)............ 43

5. Keene State ....................... 25

5. Rhode Island College ............ 25

7. Southern Maine.................... 19

8. UMass Boston..................... 14

(First-place votes in parenthesis)

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