Lady Trojans picked to finish seventh in Atlantic Sun

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 14, 2001

MACON, Ga. ­ The Troy State women’s volleyball team was picked to finish seventh in the race for the 2001 Atlantic Sun Conference volleyball crown, according to the league’s head coaches. The Trojans garnered 54 points.

Defending champion Georgia State was picked to repeat after posting a 28-10 record last season. The Panthers picked up six first place votes and 114 points. GSU returns five-of-six starters including A-Sun Player-of-the-Year Anna Popenko and Freshman-of-the-Year Molly Sapp. The Lady Panthers finished the 2000 conference season 8-1.

Co-regular season champion UCF picked up two first place votes, 111 points and was picked to finish second. The Golden Knights ended the 2000 season overall at 19-12 and 8-1 in the A-Sun. Florida Atlantic picked up two first place votes, 97 points and are picked to finish third in the poll. The Owls finished 2000 with a 10-20 overall record and 5-4 in the A-Sun and return four starters. Jacksonville University is picked to finish fourth with 88 points. The Dolphins finished last season at 17-11 overall and 6-3 in A-Sun play.

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Campbell and Samford share the fifth place spot with 67 points. Campbell picked up one first place vote, and finished 2000 at 17-16 overall and 5-4 in the A-Sun. Samford ended the season at 14-16 overall and 3-6 in the A-Sun. The Bulldogs return all six starters from a year ago.

Rounding out the poll is Jacksonville State (8th 42 pts), A-Sun newcomer Belmont University (9th 40 pts), Stetson (10th 33 pts) and Mercer (11th 17 pts).

"Both GSU and UCF are stacked but the rest of the conference is wide open," said head coach Ginger S. Lowe, who is beginning her 16th season at TSU. "With rally scoring being implemented this season anything can happen. We have finished sixth each of the last two seasons and want to improve upon that this year."

The Trojans, who began two-a-day workouts last week, return eight letterwinners and five starters from last year’s 20-11 team that finished sixth in the A-Sun. The big question mark will be at the setter position where TSU lost two-time all-conference honoree Emily Larson to graduation. Larson left Troy with 4,547 career assists and a school record 10.24 assists per game average. Waiting in the wings is junior Portia Proffitt and true freshman Erika Leitzke.

"Losing a four-year starter like Emily is huge, but Portia worked extremely hard in the off-season and Erika is one of our top recruits this year," Lowe added.

TSU welcomes three other newcomers to the squad this season as Janel Johanningmeier, Holly Martin and Lora Moncrief join the squad.

"This is one of our best recruiting classes and I am excited to get going," Lowe said. "All four of our new players have the ability to step in and play right away."

The Trojans begin the season Aug. 31 when they play host to Belmont, Bethune-Cookman and Southern Miss in the annual Trojan Labor Day Classic. All six tournament matches will be played at Trojan Arena and admission is free.