Loyola earns top spot in SSAC preseason volleyball poll
For the first time since joining the league, the Loyola Wolf Pack volleyball team earned the most votes in the SSAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Loyola Wolf Pack volleyball team looks to pick up right where they left off last year, and fellow Southern States Athletic Conference coaches agree. For the first time since joining the Southern States Athletic Conference in 2010, coach Jesse Zabal’s group was picked atop the SSAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The reigning SSAC regular-season champions Wolf Pack racked up 87 total votes, edging Life University (86) and Blue Mountain (85) while all three collected first-place votes from coaches. Life had the most first-place votes with four, and Loyola and BMC each had the same amount with three, but Loyola still earned the top spot.
Loyola went 23-10 overall last season and 12-2 in league play, advancing to the SSAC Championship tournament final for the second straight season. The team returns the SSAC Player of the Year and NAIA All-American Simone Tyson, as well as key players Gracie Bailey, Brittany Cooper, Preslie Boswell, Emily Sheperis and SSAC Co-Freshman of the Year Simone Moreau. Tyson led the team with 372 kills, while Sheperis recorded 249, Boswell added 204 and Cooper totaled 169 to return the Top 4 attackers from last season. Bailey, who has more than 1,500 career assists in Loyola’s 6-2 system the last three seasons, had 554 assists a season ago, and the team’s libero, Moreau, had a team-high 458 digs in 2021.
Zabal is excited about the addition of a few newcomers, too, as she added 6-foot-3 middle blocker Amaya Bazemore and setter Gabby Masiello, both transfers, and incoming freshmen Natalie Burkholder, Kala Emanuelli, Madeline Corrall, Juliet Petruzelli and Sydney Love. Of course, key returners Emma Fahy, Dallis Brown, Rebecca Lacour and Alicia Simmons are all back as well.
The squad begins its 2022 campaign in two weeks with the Keiser Invitational in West Palm Beach, Florida, before tournaments in San Antonio, Texas, and Joliet, Illinois. Conference play begins at Middle Georgia State on Friday, Sept. 9, then after three road SSAC matches, Loyola will play its home opener on Friday, Sept. 16, against first-year SSAC member, Life.
Wolf Pack Head Coach Jesse Zabal
“We don’t put too much weight on preseason polls, but I am proud of where our program has grown. We were picked fifth in my first season at Loyola, and to know that our student-athletes have put in the work to be seen, respected, and recognized by conference coaches and placed at number one is an honor. Our conference continues to grow more competitive each year, and we are excited about the addition of Life and Stillman. We are very much looking forward to starting conference competition next month and continuing to grow our program’s success.”
SSAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Loyola – 87 (3)
2. Life – 86 (4)
3. Blue Mountain – 85 (3)
4. Mobile – 71
5. William Carey – 70
6. Faulkner – 50
7. Talladega – 38
8. Middle Georgia – 28
9. Brewton-Parker – 21
10. Stillman – 14
You can keep up with the Pack by following Wolf Pack Athletics on Facebook at Facebook.com/LoyolaWolfPack, Twitter and Instagram @LoyolaWolfPack, and by checking out our website at LoyolaWolfPack.com.
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