Lady Chants picked to win Sun Belt in inaugural year

ccuvolley-Hardeman 02The Coastal Carolina volleyball team was voted preseason favorite of the Sun Belt East Division, it was announced Monday as the conference released the results of its preseason poll. Additionally, junior outside hitter Leah Hardeman was voted Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year alongside Arkansas State sophomore outside hitter Carlisa May.

The Chanticleers received 10 of a possible 12 first-place votes and totaled 70 points to lead the East Division. Appalachian State secured the final two first-place votes and 57 points to finish second in the polling. South Alabama came in third with 40 points, followed by Georgia Southern in fourth with 31 points. Troy and Georgia State rounded out the East Division with 30 and 24 points, respectively.

In the West Division, defending Sun Belt champion Arkansas State garnered all 12 first-place votes to lead the conference with 72 points. Texas State placed second with 58 points, followed by UT Arlington in third with 45 points. Little Rock (39 points) finished fourth, UL Lafayette (24 points) placed fifth and UL Monroe (14) took sixth.

It is the second straight year receiving conference preseason honors for Hardeman, who was named the Big South Conference’s Preseason Player of the Year prior to the 2015 campaign. Hardeman was voted the Big South Volleyball Player of the Year as a freshman in 2014 and sophomore in 2015, becoming just the third student-athlete in the conference’s history to win the award in consecutive years. The Clarkston, Ga., native further made school history in 2015, becoming the first Chant to receive American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Region honors. In her two seasons at Coastal, Hardeman is averaging over 4.0 kills and 4.5 points per set and, with 888 career kills, is on pace to surpass the 1,000 kill milestone as a junior.

Splitting the preseason honor with Hardeman is the Red Wolves’ May, who earned Honorable Mention All-American and All-Region honors from the AVCA in 2015. May was also voted the AVCA Southwest Region and Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year.

Arkansas State also swept the Sun Belt’s remaining preseason awards as senior libero Markie Schaedig was named the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and senior setter Mallory Warrington was named the Preseason Setter of the Year.

Joining Hardeman, May, Schaedig and Warrington on the Preseason All-Conference team are Ashton Gregory (Appalachian State), Edina Selimovic (Little Rock), Mechell Daniel (South Alabama) and Jordan Kohl (Texas State).

Coastal Carolina begins the 2016 season this week with the Florida International Invitational in Miami, Fla. The Chants open against Florida A&M and Florida International on Friday before squaring off against Miami on Saturday.

2016 Sun Belt Preseason Volleyball All-Conference Team
* Ashton Gregory (Appalachian State, Senior, MB)
* Edina Selimovic (Little Rock, Senior, MB)
* Carlisa May (Arkansas State, Sophomore, OH)
* Markie Schaedig (Arkansas State, Senior, L/DS)
* Mallory Warrington (Arkansas State, Senior, S)
Leah Hardeman (Coastal Carolina, Junior, OH)
** Mechell Daniel (South Alabama, Senior, OH)
** Jordan Kohl (Texas State, Junior, RS)
* –  denotes 2015 First-Team All-Conference | ** denotes 2015 Second-Team All-Conference

2016 Sun Belt Preseason Co-Offensive Players of the Year
Carlisa May (Arkansas State, Sophomore, OH)
Leah Hardeman (Coastal Carolina, Junior, OH)

2016 Sun Belt Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Markie Schaedig (Arkansas State, Senior, L/DS)

2016 Sun Belt Preseason Setter of the Year
Mallory Warrington (Arkansas State, Senior, S)

2016 Sun Belt Volleyball Preseason Poll (first-place votes in parentheses)
East Division
1. Coastal Carolina (10) – 70 pts
2. Appalachian State (2) – 57 pts
3. South Alabama – 40 pts
4. Georgia Southern – 31 pts
5. Troy – 30 pts
6. Georgia State – 24 pts

West Division
1. Arkansas State (12) – 72 pts
2. Texas State – 58 pts
3. UT Arlington – 45 pts
4. Little Rock – 39 pts
5. UL Lafayette – 24 pts
6. UL Monroe – 14 pts

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