Coastal volleyball picked to repeat as Big South champ

ccuvol-hardemannDefending Big South volleyball champion Coastal Carolina University has been chosen the favorite in the Big South Conference’s annual preseason poll by the league’s head coaches, while Chanticleers’ sophomore outside hitter Leah Hardeman (Clarkston, Ga.) was voted preseason Player of the Year, it was announced today by the Conference office.

Coastal Carolina, under the direction of Jozsef Forman, received seven first-place votes and 97 out of a possible 100 points to capture the Big South title in 2015.  Coastal, which went 25-7 last season with an 11-3 record in Big South matches, is the preseason favorite for the first time since 2010.  The Chanticleers return seven letterwinners and five starters from last year’s squad that led the league in hitting percentage and blocks per set.

Hardeman, the 2014 Big South Volleyball Player and Freshman of the Year, became just the second student-athlete in Big South volleyball history to win both awards in the same year.  She started all 32 matches and played all 118 sets for the Chanticleers last season, and finished the year as the conference leader in total kills (478 overall, 206 league) and second in kills per set (4.05 overall, 4.12 league).  She was also first in the Big South in service aces (40), second in service aces per set (0.34) and first in points per set (4.67).  Hardeman added 331 digs and 48 blocks, and posted 14 double-doubles last season — including one in each of Coastal’s three Big South Tournament victories.  She also recorded more than 20 kills in five appearances in 2014.

Hardeman, who is the first CCU player to win the preseason honor since Chelsy Kimes in 2010, headlines the seven-person preseason All-Conference Team, which includes two players from Coastal Carolina and Liberty.  Hardeman tallied seven first-place votes and finished ahead of Liberty’s Caroline Douglas for preseason Player of the Year honors, as Douglas received three first-place votes and 54 total points.  The remaining preseason All-Conference Team is listed below.

Liberty received two first-place votes and 89 points to finish second in the preseason poll.  Radford, which garnered the remaining first-place vote, tied Winthrop for third in the voting with 73 points each.  High Point captured the fifth spot with 66 points, ahead of sixth-place Campbell (44 points).  Presbyterian was picked seventh with 35 points, followed by Gardner-Webb (33), UNC Asheville (22) and Charleston Southern (18).

The 2015 Big South volleyball season begins Friday, Aug. 28, with 11 matches scheduled.  Conference play begins Friday, Sept. 25, while the 2015 Big South Volleyball Championship is slated for Nov. 19-22 on the campus of High Point University.

Photo courtesy of BSC

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