CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Loyola University Maryland volleyball was tabbed to finish sixth in its second season in the Patriot League, the conference office announced Friday after a vote of League coaches and staff.
The Greyhounds, who finished the 2013 season 8-20, 5-11 in the League, placed sixth in the conference last season.
American University, the 2013 Patriot League titlist that advanced to the NCAA Round of 16, was the unanimous pick to win the conference this year. Colgate University, which received two first-place votes because schools are not allowed to vote for themselves in the poll, was picked second, followed by the U.S. Military Academy, Lehigh University, the U.S. Naval Academy and Loyola. Bucknell University, College of the Holy Cross and Lafayette College round out the seven through nine spots in the preseason poll.
Head Coach Jake Lawrence's team features a cadre of 11 freshmen and sophomores who join three seniors, setter Lauren Andersen, middle blocker Mindy Maloney and libero Kara Schiffer. Six first-year players dot this year's roster that starts action on Friday, Aug. 29, against Coppin State University in the La Salle Invitational.
Andersen returns for her fourth year as the Greyhounds' setter and enters the 2014 campaign with 2,758 assists. Last year, she led Loyola with 793 total assists, an average of 8.09 per set to finish fifth in the Patriot League in assists per set.
Maloney earned Academic All-Patriot League honors last year, one of six players in the conference to be so honored, and led the team with a .316 hitting percentage that was also fifth in the League. She also posted 92 total blocks, 0.94 per set, a mark that finished fourth conference-wide. In Patriot League play, she was the conference's top hitter percentage-wise, swinging at a .382 clip.
Schiffer led Loyola in digs last year with 271 total and 2.71 per set, settling in to a role as the team's primary libero midway through the season. Through her first three seasons with the Greyhounds, she has 715 total digs, an average of 3.04 per set, and she has also recorded 56 service aces.
After playing three matches in the La Salle Invitational to start the season, the Greyhounds open their home schedule with the Greyhound Challenge presented by Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys and Hunt Valley Inn on Sept. 5-6 in Reitz Arena. The Greyhounds will host Quinnipiac University on the tournament's opening night before facing Saint Francis (Pennsylvania) University and Dartmouth College on Saturday.
Patriot League Volleyball Preseason Poll
1. American 128 (16 first place votes)
2. Colgate 104 (2)
3. Army 102
4. Lehigh 85
5. Navy 81
6. Loyola 52
7. Bucknell 41
8. Holy Cross 29
9. Lafayette 26