The Hiram College volleyball team was picked to finish second according to the coaches in the 2012 North Coast Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll that was released today (Monday, Aug. 27). [2012 NCAC Preseason Poll]
The Terriers accumulated 65 points to place second of nine teams and received one first-place vote. Defending NCAC and 2012 NCAA Division III National Champion Wittenberg University was selected as the favorite with 80 points on eight first-place votes. DePauw (Ind.) University rounded out the top three schools with 62 points.
Hiram (27-9, 13-3 NCAC in 2011), recorded their eighth 20 or more win season in the last nine years last fall with 27 victories and finished second in the North Coast Athletic Conference. The 2011 campaign also saw the Terriers qualify for their 11th straight appearance in the NCAC Tournament and reached the tournament championship match for the ninth consecutive year. Hiram capped the season with their fourth trip to the NCAA Division III National Tournament in program history, their first since the 2007 season, and will seek a repeat performance in 2012.
The Terriers will have to accomplish that feat with a host of new players and new head coach this fall. Gone from last year’s squad are All-Region and first-team All-NCAC players Shaina Bryan and Kristi Opfer. Also lost to graduation are All-NCAC players Megan Woodard and Andrea Kaminsky as well as Katie Rumora and Taylor Summerfield. In addition, the volleyball program will have a new head coach in 2012 as 11-year veteran Ellen Dempsey stepped down after last season to assume an administrative role at Hiram. Dempsey was the program’s all-time winningest coach with a 267-113 mark and a 457-271 record overall in her 19-year coaching career. During her tenure, she was the NCAC Coach of the Year four times (2001, 2003, 2005, 2009).
Outside hitter Ariel Pund (Macedonia/Walsh Jesuit) is the lone senior on this year’s team. Last year, Pund played in 120 sets and finished the season third on the team in kills with 259 which leads all returning players in 2012. She averaged 2.16 kills per set with a .222 attack percentage. Pund was also second in service aces with 36 and was amongst the team leaders in digs and blocks with 276 and 45 respectively.
Hiram opens the 2012 season at the Goucher (Md.) Greg “Gio” Giovanazzi Memorial Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 1 and Sunday, Sept. 2. The Terriers will take on host school Goucher in the season-opener on Saturday at 2 p.m., followed by a matchup against Cabrini (Pa.) College at 6 p.m.