Coastal favored to defend Sun Belt volleyball crown

The Coastal Carolina volleyball team – defending Sun Belt champions and winners of four straight conference championships – was selected to repeat as the Sun Belt East Division winner for the third straight season, it was announced Monday as the conference released the results of its preseason poll. In addition, sophomore outside hitter Kyla Manning was voted preseason all-conference.

EAST DIVISION

The Chanticleers led the division and finished second overall in the Sun Belt after garnering 67 total points and eight first-place votes from among the league’s head coaches. Coastal won the East Division in both 2016 and 2017, and claimed the Sun Belt regular season title outright last season.

South Alabama was predicted to finish second in the division, nabbing the four remaining first-place votes and totaling 63 points. Appalachian State (44 points) and Troy (37 points) finished third and fourth, respectively. Georgia State (22 points) and Georgia Southern (19 points) rounded out the division.

WEST DIVISION

Texas State was predicted to win the Sun Belt in 2018 as the Bobcats totaled 70 points after receiving 10 first-place votes. Texas State was the conference runner-up in 2017, falling to Coastal in the Sun Belt Championship.

Arkansas State (58 points) and Louisiana (51 points) received the final two first-place votes and finished second and third in the polling, respectively. UTA (32 points) was selected finish fourth, Little Rock (27) placed fifth and ULM (14 points) was voted last in the West.

Manning was Coastal’s lone representative on the preseason all-conference list. The Atlanta, Ga., native was named to the Sun Belt All-Tournament Team in 2017 as she helped the Chants claim their fourth consecutive conference title by averaging 4.13 kills per set in the Sun Belt tournament. Manning finished second for Coastal in both total kills (23) and kills per set last season (2.23).

Arkansas State’s Carlisa May and Ellie Watkins were named Sun Belt Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Preseason Setter of the Year, respectively. Texas State’s Micah Dinwiddie was voted the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

2018 Sun Belt Preseason Coaches’ Poll (first-place votes)

East Division
1. Coastal Carolina (8) – 67 points
2. South Alabama (4) – 63 points
3. Appalachian State – 44 points
4. Troy – 37 points
5. Georgia State – 22 points
6. Georgia Southern – 19 points

West Division
1. Texas State (10) – 70 points
2. Arkansas State (1) – 58 points
3. Louisiana (1) – 51 points
4. UTA – 32 points
5. Little Rock – 27 points
6. ULM – 14 points

2018 Sun Belt Preseason All-Conference Team
Carlisa May – Arkansas State (Sr, OH)
Ellie Watkins – Arkansas State (Sr, S)
Kyla Maning – Coastal Carolina (So, OH)
Lauren Reichard – Georgia Southern (Sr, MH)
Dree’Ana Abram – Louisiana (Jr, MB)
Hali Wisnoskie – Louisiana (So, OH)
Kelley Hartman – South Alabama (Jr, MB)
Zhanelle Geathers – UTA (Jr, OH)
Madison Daigle – Texas State (Sr, MB)
Micah Dinwiddie – Texas State (Jr, DS)
Amy Pflughaupt – Texas State (Sr, OH)
Megan Porter – Texas State (Sr, OH)

Photo by Joel Beachum

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