WINTER PARK – With only weeks away from the beginning of the 2012-13 sports seasons, the Sunshine State Conference released their 2012 fall sport preseason polls on Wednesday afternoon.
The preseason polls are voted on by the league’s head coaches and the school’s Sports Information Directors. The votes in the poll are combined and the coaches and SIDS were not allowed to vote for their own teams.
In volleyball, the SSC tabbed Florida Southern to finish fourth in the preseason poll after earning 134 points. Last season, the Moccasins, who earned seven votes in this year’s preseason AVCA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, finished tied for third in the regular season standings and advanced to the semifinals of the South Regional Tournament.
The Mocs under the direction of 12th-year head coach Jill Stephens return seven letterwinners and four starters to a team that went 18-13 overall in 2011. FSC will be led by senior outside hitter Anna Pietkiewicz (Winter Park, Fla.), junior setter Ali Skayhan (Beaverton, Ore.), sophomore outside hitter Kate Stromberg (Lexington, Kent.) and sophomore right side hitter Gabby Fernandez (Tampa, Fla.). Stromberg and Fernandez were both named to the South Regional All-Tournament Team, while Skayhan earned Honorable Mention AVCA All-South Region honors.
FSC will open their 2012 season on the road, with a four matches at the Western Oregon Classic on Aug 30-31. The Mocs will open the tournament on Aug. 30 at 12:30 pm EDT against Western Washington.
Tampa, who is ranked No. 2 in the preseason AVCA Coaches’ Poll and has won at least a share of the SSC regular season title the past seven years, was once again tabbed to win the SSC. The Spartans received 192 points and earned 16 out of a possible 18 votes.
Following Tampa, Rollins (164 points), who earned the other two first place votes, was tabbed second, while Eckerd (138 points) was third. Saint Leo (91 points) comes in behind the Mocs in the fifth slot, slightly ahead of Lynn (88 points) in sixth. Barry (67 points), Nova Southeastern (64 points) and Florida Tech (24 points) round out the poll in seventh, eighth and ninth place respectively.
In addition to releasing the preseason volleyball poll, the league also unveiled its preseason polls in both women’s and men’s soccer as the Mocs were tabbed to finish seventh and ninth respectively.
The FSC women’s team, which is under the direction of first year coach Brittany Jones, was picked to finish seventh as they earned 65 points. Jones takes over a Moccasin team that returns its top two scorers, junior Kara Moore (Fleming Island, Fla.) and sophomore Kirra Rainbow (Melbourne Beach, Fla.) and six starters from a 2011 squad that went 7-7-1. The Mocs open the season on Aug. 31 with a 7 p.m. EDT match at Columbus State in Columbus, Ga.
Meanwhile, the FSC men’s team was picked to finish ninth as the Mocs earned 37 points. The Mocs, who are under the direction of eighth-year head coach Hugh Seyfarth, will face three SSC foes who are ranked in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Continental Tire NCAA D-II Men’s Preseason Rankings as Lynn is No. 2, Barry is 12th and Rollins is 20th. The Mocs return five starters, including senior two-time All-SSC defender Ashley Holmes (Gedling, England), that went 7-7-1 a year ago. FSC will begin its 2012 season on Aug. 30 as they host 18th-ranked Coker in a 7 p.m. at Barnett Field.
Complete Volleyball Preseason SSC Coaches' Poll
Complete Women's Soccer Preseason SSC Coaches' Poll
Complete Men's Soccer Preseason SSC Coaches' Poll