American Predicted to Maintain Top Spot in Patriot League Volleyball

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG American sophomore Sara Rishell was named the preseason Player of the Year Tuesday.
American sophomore Sara Rishell was named the preseason Player of the Year Tuesday.

Aug. 21, 2012

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CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – Fresh off securing its 10th Patriot League volleyball title in 11 seasons, American found itself in familiar territory as the preseason favorite in the 2012 preseason poll, it was announced Tuesday.

Voting was conducted by the League’s head coaches and sports information directors, who could not cast a ballot for their own teams or players.

The Eagles collected the maximum in both points (98) and first-place votes (14) to sit comfortably at the top, ahead of second-place Army, which collected 86 points and the final two first-place ballots. Lehigh finished third in the poll with 71 points, while Colgate filled out the top four with 64.

Holy Cross took fifth place in the poll with 49 points, while Bucknell captured sixth by the slimmest of margins with 31 points. Navy settled for seventh with 30 points, while Lafayette was eighth with 19.

2012 marks the inaugural season of the preseason All-League team in volleyball, which is also voted on by the coaches and media contacts. Defending champion American and last year’s runner-up Army each had two selections to the squad, while Colgate, Holy Cross and Lehigh contributed one apiece.

American sophomore Sara Rishell, who last year became the first student-athlete in League history named Player and Rookie of the Year and Tournament Most Valuable Player in the same season, added another feather to her cap with the preseason Player of the Year nod. Rishell earned first-team All-League status to go along with her individual honors, and finished her rookie campaign second in the League in hitting (.316), first in total blocks (124), third in blocks per set (1.04) and fourth in kills per set (3.13).

An outside hitter and middle blocker, Rishell was joined on the preseason All-League team by junior teammate Juliana Crum. Also an outside hitter, Crum averaged the League’s fifth-best kills-per-set average at 3.09, while her 0.40 service aces per frame were fourth.

Senior outside hitter Ariana Mankus and sophomore setter Mary Vaccaro represented Army on the preseason team. Mankus became the League’s first simultaneous Player and Rookie of the Year in 2009, while Vaccaro is the reigning Setter of the Year after collecting 1,302 assists, the fifth-highest single-season total in League annals.

Rounding out the team were Colgate junior outside hitter Lindsay Young, Holy Cross senior outside hitter Megan Lynch and Lehigh senior middle blocker Taylor Poole. Young and Poole were first-team All-League honorees in 2011, while Lynch made the second team.

American, Army, Colgate, Holy Cross and Navy open the 2012 campaign on Friday, while Bucknell begins Saturday and Lafayette and Lehigh kick off Sunday. The first matches of the season are Friday beginning at 11 a.m., with Holy Cross hosting Alabama as part of the Beanpot Classic and Army entertaining Quinnipiac in the Black Knights Invitational. Three matches are set for 7 p.m., with American hosting city rival Georgetown in the annual Bender Blue Out, Colgate opens the Colgate Classic at home against Bryant and Navy entertains Hartford in the Kristen Dickmann Invitational.

Bucknell’s season starts Saturday when the Bison visit La Salle at 11 a.m. Lafayette and Lehigh both open Sunday against the same team. The Leopards host Rider at 1 p.m., before the Mountain Hawks welcome the Broncs to Bethlehem, Pa., at 6 p.m.

The 2012 Patriot League Tournament is set for Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 17-18, from the site of the highest seed. The top four teams in the regular-season standings qualify, with the winner earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

2012 Preseason Poll

TeamPoints (First-place votes)2011
American 98 (14) 23-11 (13-1 PL)
Army 86 (2) 23-8 (12-2 PL)
Lehigh 71 19-10 (10-4 PL)
Colgate 64 12-18 (8-6 PL)
Holy Cross 49 10-21 (6-8 PL)
Bucknell 31 6-17 (3-11 PL)
Navy 30 6-23 (1-13 PL)
Lafayette 19 10-17 (3-11 PL)

Preseason All-League Team

Juliana Crum, American Jr. OH 112 sp, .242, 3.09 kps, 2.64 dps, 1st team All-PL
Sara Rishell, American So. OH/MB 121 sp, .316, 3.13 kps, 1.04 bps
POY, ROY, Tournament MVP, 1st team All-PL
Ariana Mankus, Army Sr. OH 114 sp, .213, 3.69 kps, 3.66 dps,
1st team All-PL, Academic All-PL
Mary Vaccaro, Army So. S 114 sp, 1302 a, 11.42 aps, 3.14 dps,
SOY, 1st team All-PL
Lindsay Young, Colgate Jr. OH 110 sp, .210, 3.32 kps, 1.90 dps, 1st team All-PL
Megan Lynch, Holy Cross Sr. OH 103 sp, .174, 3.93 kps, 2.89 dps,
2nd team All-PL, Academic All-PL
Taylor Poole, Lehigh Sr. MB 103 sp, .324, 2.00 kps, 0.54 bps, 1st team All-PL

Preseason Player of the Year – Sara Rishell, American, So., OH/MB