Dayton, Tenn. – The Appalachian Athletic Conference Coaches' Preseason Poll for volleyball was released Tuesday afternoon, and the Bryan College Lions tallied 106 points, and so did fellow AAC foes Reinhardt University (Ga.) and Tennessee Wesleyan University, putting the trio in a three-way tie for fifth behind fourth-place St. Andrews University (N.C.).
Union College (Ky.) received all 13 first-place votes in garnering 169 total voting points. The Bulldogs have won the past three AAC Tournament titles and took home both the regular-season and tournament championships last season. Union became the first team in conference history to win a NAIA Opening Round match, advancing to the final site of the 2016 NAIA National Championship Tournament in Sioux City, Iowa. The Bulldogs pieced together a 34-11 overall record and went 20-2 against AAC opponents.
Following Union was Milligan College (Tenn.) who was picked second, earning all 13 second-place votes to amass 156 points. The Buffaloes went 31-8 overall and was second in the regular season with a 19-3 league mark.
Montreat College (N.C.) landed in third-place with 116 points after going 14-19 overall and 12-10 in the AAC, and St. Andrews checked in at No. 4 with 109 points. The Knights advanced to the NAIA Opening Round last season, making their first-ever postseason appearance.
Making up the rest of the field are: Bluefield College (Va.) in eighth with 86 points, Truett McConnell University (Ga.) in ninth with 71 points, Point University (Ga.) in 10th with 62 points, Brenau University (Ga.) in 11th with 45 points, Columbia College (S.C.) in 12th with 28 points, and Allen University (S.C.) in 13th with 23 points.
Following her 2016 debut as Head Volleyball Coach, Jessica Day, along with Assistant Coach, Natalie Jones, who also is entering her second season, will lead the Lions as they look to better their notable 18-19 overall record and 13-9 record in conference play they managed last season. Despite several new faces and the coaching changes last year, the Lions were determined to vie for a top-spot in the AAC, and their efforts proved good enough for a fourth-place finish as the 2016 regular-season came to a close.
The Lions begin 2017 with a scrimmage at home against Bob Jones University (S.C.) on Aug. 23 at 6:30pm, and continue preseason play at the annual "Bryan Bash" Aug. 25 & 26 at home in Summers Gymnasium. The event will showcase talent from The Sun Conference, River States Conference, Mid-South Conference, Southern States Athletic Conference, and the AAC. Southeastern University (Fla.), Bethel University (Tenn.), Asbury University (Ky.), and University of Pikeville (Ky.) will all make an appearance at the bash.
This season, the league will be divided into divisions with six playing in the North Division and seven in the South Division. The teams making up the North Division are: Bluefield, Bryan, Milligan, Montreat, Tennessee Wesleyan, and Union. In the South Division, the teams are: Allen, Brenau, Columbia, Point, Reinhardt, St. Andrews, and Truett McConnell.
The top four teams in each division will advance to the 2017 AAC Tournament, which is set for Nov. 9-11 at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center in Kingsport, Tenn.
2017 AAC Volleyball Preseason Poll
School (1st Place Votes)
1. Union (13)
4. St. Andrews
5. (tie) Bryan
5. (tie) Reinhardt
5. (tie) Tennessee Wesleyan
9. Truett McConnell