The Central Connecticut Volleyball team has been selected as the number one team in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches' poll, as released this afternoon. The Blue Devils were picked ahead of last year's regular season and tournament champion Long Island, who received three first place votes, to CCSU's four.
Robert Morris, last year's NEC runner-up, was slotted third with two first place votes, while Fairleigh Dickinson finished fourth in the poll. Sacred Heart, St. Francis (PA) and Quinnipiac took the five, six and seven places in the coaches' poll, while Wagner and St. Francis (NY) rounded out the nine NEC teams.
In 2008, the Blue Devils finished the regular season 23-6, recording CCSU volleyball's fifth consecutive year of at least 18 victories. Central went on to face Robert Morris in the NEC semifinal, where they fell to the Colonials 3-1.
Head Coach Linda Sagnelli was named NEC Coach of the Year in 2007 and will be attempting to lead the Blue Devils to their first ever NEC Championship in 2008. The ninth year veteran has a young but talented core of players returning to the court this season. Junior Jamie Baumert (Elkhorn, NE/Elkhorn), an All-NEC First Team selection in 2007, led the Blue Devils in hitting percentage with .330 and led the NEC in blocks with 109. Three sophomores were on last season's All-NEC Second Team, Amanda Bayer (Allen, TX/Allen), Lauren Snyder (Fort Mitchell, KY/Beechwood) and Kaitlin Petrella (Stratford, CT/Bunnell). Bayer, the CCSU setter, was also named NEC Rookie of the Year, while compiling a league best 1,334 assists. Snyder led the Northeast Conference in kills per game with a mark of 4.12. The CCSU libero, Petrella, set the single season school record for digs with 594, while leading the conference in digs per game with a rate of 5.26.
Senior captain Amanda Olmstead (Wilmington, DE/Padua Academy) will provide the leadership for this year's young squad. The outside hitter was second on the team last season in hitting percentage with .309 and third in blocks and service aces with 95 and 45 respectively.
The Central Connecticut team will start their season hosting Bucknell, Iona and Stony Brook in the CCSU Blue Devil Invitational on August 29-30.