ATTLEBORO, Mass. – After making a run into the semifinal round of the 2017 playoff tournament, the Southern Vermont College women's volleyball team has been voted to finish sixth in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) standings this year via the league's preseason poll results which were released on Monday.
SVC went 4-3 in Conference play last season to earn the No. 4 seed and a home playoff match in the postseason. The Mountaineers swept their first-round contest before falling 3-2 in a hard-fought semifinal at Elms College—the eventual tournament champion.
"I expect us to be a very hardworking group which will put focus and energy toward the culture that we are continuing to build at SVC," said second-year Southern Vermont head coach Pat Robidoux. "We just need to focus each day on the things that make us successful and try our best to improve on our weaknesses as much as possible."
Robidoux returns five players from his 2017 squad while welcoming in nine new faces who are all primed to make an impact for the Mountaineers; six of his incomers are freshmen, and the other three are of a junior class standing. Included in those coming back for SVC are seniors Heidy Benitez (Tulare, Calif.) and Liv Sowles (Sacramento, Calif.), as well as sophomore Nikki Ramirez (West Covina, Calif.).
Benitez was named the 2017 NECC Defensive Player of the Year and earned a spot on the NECC All-Second Team while Sowles made her way to the All-First Team in addition to making a strong case to be selected as the Player of the Year. Ramirez also picked up an All-Second Team nod.
"The players in our gym are hungry and excited to go out there and compete, and we are looking forward to seeing how everything pans out," Robidoux added. "The efforts from last year's group laid down the foundation for our culture of grit and accountability, and I believe that we have the leadership, passion, and dedication to further that culture and continue to grow it."
Southern Vermont will begin the 2018 regular season with the inaugural playing of The Vermont Volleyball Classic—a tournament that will have a rotating host site with its first year being held at SVC. That event will include Norwich University, Northern Vermont University-Johnson, and Northern Vermont University-Lyndon, and it will take place September 2-3.
The Mountaineers begin NECC action on September 15 with a matchup against Lesley University during a tri at Nichols College, and SVC will hold its Senior Day on October 27 in conjunction with a 7 p.m. first serve against Eastern Nazarene College—one of two institutions which joined the league this summer (New England College).
Elms took the top spot in the preseason poll as nine of the 10 coaches from the Conference gave the Blazers their number-one vote while ENC took the final top nod en route to placing third in the rankings.
2018 NECC Women's Volleyball Preseason Poll
1. Elms – 98 (9)
2. New England College – 79
3. Eastern Nazarene – 71 (1)
4. Becker – 61
5. Lesley – 58
6. Southern Vermont – 57
7. Dean – 53
8. Bay Path – 29
T9. Mitchell – 22
T9. Newbury – 22
(Parentheses denote first-place votes)
– #LetsGoSVC –