PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Entering its second season in the American Athletic Conference, the UConn volleyball team has been selected to finish sixth out of 11 teams in the preseason coaches' poll, as announced by the league on Tuesday. In addition, outside hitter Karson Ratliff (Wake Forest, N.C.) earned a spot on the preseason All-Conference team.
The Huskies totaled 45 points in the poll, edging out Houston (44) for the sixth spot. UConn finished 5-13 in league play last season, but will head into the 2014 campaign under the direction of first-year head coach Kris Grunwald.
SMU (99) earned nine of the 11 first-place votes from The American's head coaches on its way to being named preseason favorite. UCF (87) tallied one first-place vote and finished second overall. The final first-place vote went to newcomer Tulane, which was tabbed to finish third with 79 total points.
The Preseason Player of the Year accolade went to USF's Erin Fairs who returns to Tampa for her junior campaign after pacing the Bulls with a 3.73 kills/set and 4.41 digs/set mark during a stellar 2013 season.
Ratliff, one of five Husky seniors, represents UConn on the league's preseason squad after earning Second Team All-Conference honors during her junior season in 2013. The North Carolina native led the team with 365 kills and 2.99 kills per set, but is still recovering after offseason shoulder surgery.
The Huskies will hold their annual Blue vs. White intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion. Admission is free-of-charge. The regular season is set to begin on Aug. 29 when Connecticut welcomes Indiana, Central Connecticut and New Hampshire to Storrs for the UConn Classic.
Preseason poll: (First-place votes in parentheses)
1. SMU (9) 99
2. UCF (1) 87
3. Tulane (1) 79
4. Tulsa 73
5. USF 69
6. UConn 45
7. Houston 44
8. Memphis 40
9. Temple 34
10. Cincinnati 23
11. East Carolina 12
Preseason Player of the Year: Erin Fairs, USF
Preseason Team: Kaye-Alese Green, UCF DeLaina Sarden, UCF* Karson Ratliff, UConn Kadi Kullerkann, Houston Lauren Wright, Memphis Erin Fairs, USF* Avery Acker, SMU Cailin Bula, SMU Janelle Giordano, SMU Caroline Young, SMU* Tea Juric, Tulane* Annie Shurtz, Tulane Brooke Berryhill, Tulsa Erica Bohannon, Tulsa (Unanimous selections denoted with an asterisk)