TOWSON, Md. – The Catholic University volleyball team was picked to finish fourth in the Landmark Conference preseason poll released on Tuesday.
The Cardinals, who were picked sixth a year ago and finished third, received 34 points, just two behind rival Scranton who they beat in the final match of the regular season a year ago to secure the third-seed in the 2018 Landmark Conference Volleyball Championship.
Catholic returns 12 players, including all six starters and the libero from last year's team that went 19-13 overall and 4-2 in the Landmark Conference. The team appeared in the conference semifinals for the eighth time in the league's 12-year history.
Among the team's top returners are junior Patricia Martinez who led the league in kills and was named to the All-Landmark Conference First Team and sophomore Caroline Kelly who led the league in digs per set and was named to the All-Landmark Conference Second Team. The Cards also welcome back senior Isabelle Cooper who led the team in blocks, junior Maria Gonzalez who finished second in the conference in assists per set and sophomore Mackenzie Collier who was second on the team in kills, assists and digs.
Juniata, who was ranked at No. 3 in the AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll, was picked to win their 13th conference championship after receiving 60 points and six first-place votes. Susquehanna, who received 19 votes in the AVCA preseason poll and lost to Juniata in the title match for the ninth time a year ago, was picked to finish second with 50 points and one first-place vote.
Scranton and Catholic were third and fourth, respectively, followed by Moravian in fifth (21 points), Elizabethtown in sixth (18 points) and Goucher in seventh (12 points).
The Cardinals open the season this Friday against 2018 NCAA tournament participant Meredith at the Route 42 Classic hosted by Eastern Mennonite and Bridgewater. The defending USA South champion Avenging Angels went 23-5 a year ago, advancing to the NCAA tournament for the second time in the last three years.
Catholic opens conference play on Saturday, Oct. 5 with a tri-match at Scranton against the Royals and Juniata.
2019 Volleyball Preseason Poll
1. Juniata – 60 points (6)
2. Susquehanna – 50 points (1)
3. Scranton – 36 points
4. CATHOLIC – 34 points
5. Moravian – 21 points
6. Elizabethtown – 18 points
7. Goucher – 12 points