Islanders tabbed 2021 Southland Volleyball preseason favorites

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Southland Conference

Reigning tournament champions garner 13 first place votes

FRISCO, Texas – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was voted the Southland Conference’s 2021 preseason favorite for volleyball by conference coaches and sports information directors, the league announced Tuesday. The preseason predicted order of finish is presented by Jostens.

After closing out the spring season with a Southland Tournament title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Islanders captured 13 first-place votes and 167 points to top this year’s preseason poll. A&M-Corpus Christi garnered five preseason all-conference selections in first-teamers Carissa Barnes, Faith Panhans and Rachel Young, along with second-teamers Kylie Filipak and Montez Uigaese. The Islanders led the Southland in 2020 in hitting percentage (.281), assists per set (13.09) and kills per set (14.61).

HBU finished second with 149 points and a pair of top choices. The Huskies led the conference in blocks with 154 overall and 120 in conference play. HBU returns all four 2020 Southland All-Conference honorees. Ebonie Ballesteros looks to build upon her junior year where she led the conference with 70 blocks, including a team-high 12 solo blocks.

Southeastern placed third with 144 points and one first place vote. The Lions captured a pair of preseason all-conference selections. After being selected to finish seventh in the spring preseason poll, Southland Coach of the Year Jeremy White led his team to a 11-4 overall record and a 9-3 conference record. The Lions earned the No. 3 seed at the Southland Tournament, the program’s highest tournament-seeding position since joining the conference.

Rounding out the top four is UIW with 127 points, which enters the season with a pair of preseason all-conference honorees. The Cardinals finished 6-8 overall and 6-6 in conference play to earn a spot in their first Southland Conference Tournament. Rising senior Bethany Clapp finished first on the team with 197 kills, logged 11 service aces and ranked third in the conference with 4.02 kills per set.

McNeese (122), New Orleans (112), Northwestern State (97) and Nicholls (84) fill out the remaining positions on the poll.

The preseason poll is voted on by head coaches and SIDs from each Southland volleyball school. Voting for one’s own team is not permitted.

2021 Southland Preseason Poll
School (First-place votes) Total
1. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (13) 167
2. HBU (2) 149
3. Southeastern (1) 144
4. UIW 127
5. McNeese 122
6. New Orleans 112
7. Northwestern State 97
8. Nicholls 84

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