The preseason poll and awards are out for the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) ahead of the 2018 season, with the Pittsburgh Panthers favored to repeat as conference champion.
In total, Pitt received 14 of the 15 first-place votes – considered unanimous since coaches cannot vote for their own team. It makes sense too, after the Panthers were co-ACC champs in 2017, made the NCAA Tournament second round and return all six starters plus the libero. They’re also the highest ranked ACC team in the Way-Too-Early VolleyMob Top 25 Power Rankings at #19.
“The ACC will have to go through Pittsburgh,” Miami head coach Jose Gandara said to VolleyMob. “After that, everyone else has some significant questions in the form of graduation, transfer out/in and coaching changes, us included. It should be another exciting year for our conference.”
“Pittsburgh has all their starters returning and had their best year last year,” Florida State head coach Chris Poole told VolleyMob. “I’m expecting them to be very competitive in the ACC and Nationally. Louisville also has a great group of players returning and should be at the top of the conference.”
Running down from third to a pair of teams tied for seventh are a handful of 2017 NCAA Tournament teams in Florida State (3), Notre Dame (4), Miami (FL) (T-7) and NC State (T-7). The Seminoles are also #30 in the Way-Too-Early VM Top 25.
The others in that top half that didn’t make the tournament and are looking for stronger 2018 seasons are Duke (5) and North Carolina (6) – who sits at #33 in the Way-Too-Early VM Top 25.
“I think there are a lot of teams in the ACC that will be fighting to jump into that top 3-4 this year,” Poole added. “Many programs lost their best player from last year, but still have talent on their team and if others step up, they could have a great season. I think the ACC has gotten deeper every year. There are a lot of very competitive programs and great coaches in our league. I believe there are teams that will again surprise this season.”
In terms of players, Louisville actually reigned supreme with four picks compared to Pittsburgh’s three. Florida State, NC State and Notre Dame were the only other schools with more than one player selection.
In total, 16 of the 18 recipients on the preseason players list earned distinction in the 2017 ACC postseason awards including 2017 Defensive Player of the Year Molly Sauer (Louisville), Setter of the Year Wilma Rivera (Louisville) and unanimous first-team right side Nika Markovic (Pittsburgh). The two new names to the list are Duke middle blocker Leah Meyer and Florida State outside hitter Payton Caffrey (since she transferred in from a different league in the Big 12 from West Virginia).
The others on the list, both in terms of teams and players, can be seen below:
2018 ACC Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Pitt (196 points) (14 first-place votes)
2. Louisville (180) (1 first-place votes)
3. Florida State (171)
4. Notre Dame (137)
5. Duke (134)
6. North Carolina (121)
T7. Miami (117)
T7. NC State (117)
9. Syracuse (110)
10. Georgia Tech (68)
11. Virginia Tech (55)
12. Clemson (54)
13. Wake Forest (51)
14. Virginia (37)
15. Boston College (27)
2018 ACC Volleyball Preseason All-Conference Team
Kaylin Korte, Sr., OH/RS, Clemson
Leah Meyer, Jr., MB, Duke
Payton Caffrey, Jr., OH, Florida State
Taryn Knuth, So., MB, Florida State
Jasmine Bennett, Sr., MB, Louisville
Melanie McHenry, Jr., OH, Louisville
Wilma Rivera, Sr., S, Louisville
Molly Sauer, Sr., L, Louisville
Haley Templeton, R-Sr., S, Miami
Melissa Evans, So., OPP, NC State
Kylie Pickrell, Sr., S, NC State
Ryann DeJarld, Sr., L, Notre Dame
Jemma Yeadon, Jr., OH, Notre Dame
Kamalani Akeo, Sr., S, Pitt
Nika Markovic, Jr., RS, Pitt
Stephanie Williams, R-Jr., OH, Pitt
Santita Ebangwese, Sr., MB, Syracuse
Jaila Tolbert, Sr., RS, Virginia Tech