Panthers to kick off 2018 at Cardinal Classic at Plattsburgh State
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University women's volleyball team was picked to finish fourth in the Little East Conference (LEC) Preseason Coaches' Poll following a vote of the league's nine head coaches, the league announced Friday.
The University of Massachusetts Boston, LEC Tournament champions in eight of the last nine years, is the preseason favorite to repeat after collecting six first place votes and 61 points. Keene State College earned 58 points while picking up two first place votes with Eastern Connecticut State University taking the final first place vote to finish with 48 points.
The Panthers, who earned a 21st straight LEC Tournament appearance last fall, accumulated 40 points to finish just ahead of Western Connecticut State University (37 points). The University of Southern Maine (31 points), Rhode Island College (20 points), University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (14 points) and Castleton University (9 points) rounded out the bottom half of the poll.
First year head coach Joan Forge will rely on senior middle blocker Ari Linden (Lena, Ill.) to carry the bulk of the offensive load. Linden, an All-LEC Second Team selection last fall, finished with a team-best .234 hitting percentage a season ago. One of the team's three senior captains, Linden also led the Panthers with 66 blocks and finished second on the team with 242 kills.
Junior Lex Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) was impressive in her first season as a starter last fall, finishing third on the team with 240 kills while adding 175 digs. She is expected to be the team's top offensive threat from the outside hitter position. Senior captain Jill Tiner (Salem, N.H.) also adds valuable experience to the offense as the starting opposite.
Senior captain Kennedy Mang (Livonia, Mich.), junior Shannon Howland (Delmar, N.Y.) and freshman Alexa Price (Moultonborough, N.H.) will compete for the starting setter position, while junior Alisha Flanagan (Milton, N.H.) returns to anchor the defense.
The Panthers kick off the season at the Best Western Plus – Ground Round Cardinal Classic hosted by Plattsburgh State over Labor Day weekend. Plymouth will face Sage (4:00 p.m.) and Utica (6:00 p.m.) on Aug. 31, before meeting Mt. Saint Mary (11:00 a.m.) and SUNY Canton (1:00 p.m.) on Sept. 1.
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