FRISCO, Texas – According to the Southland Conference volleyball coaches, Stephen F. Austin is the favorite to capture the league's 2016 crown. The Ladyjacks collected 130 points and three first-place votes in the 2016 SLC Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll which was released on Wednesday, edging out defending league titleholder Texas A&M-Corpus Christi who amassed six first-place votes and 127 points.
Also unveiled on Wednesday was the SLC's sports information directors preseason poll where SFA was slotted second after picking up a pair of first-place votes and 128 points. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi stood at the top in that listing, picking up eight of the 13 first-place votes and 130 points.
The top three teams in both polls were separated by no more than five points. Following SFA and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the coaches poll were Houston Baptist (125) and Central Arkansas (115). The league's sports information personnel put Central Arkansas (126) two points behind SFA for third place in their poll with Houston Baptist (107) checking in at fourth place.
Under the direction of head coach Debbie Humphreys – who is set to begin her 29th season in charge of the Ladyjacks in 2016 – SFA posted a 20-14 record in 2015 that included an 11-5 showing in Southland Conference play. The Ladyjacks finished third in the 13-team league and were handed a 3-1 defeat in the Southland Conference Tournament by Houston Baptist.
Eight members of that 2015 team are set to return to the court in 2016, including two-time All-Southland Conference First Team selection Justice Walker. In addition to the eight returners, an equal number of newcomers (seven freshmen and one transfer) make up the rest of SFA's squad.
At 10:00 a.m., on Friday, August 26, the Ladyjacks' 2016 season will get underway in Green Bay, Wis., when SFA takes on Eastern Illinois at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Invitational. The squad will take part in a trio of matches while in Wisconsin and three more in San Marcos, Texas, before setting up shop in Shelton Gym for its home opener on Tuesday, September 6, against Louisiana-Monroe. Admission to all of the Ladyjacks' home contests is free of charge for all SFA students, faculty, staff and fans.
2016 Southland Conference Volleyball Preseason Polls
1. Stephen F. Austin (3) | 130
2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (6) | 127
3. Houston Baptist (3) | 125
4. Central Arkansas | 115
5. Sam Houston State (1) | 98
6. Abilene Christian | 86
7. McNeese | 77
8. New Orleans | 61
9. Northwestern State | 52
10. Southeastern Louisiana | 47
11. Incarnate Word | 43
12. Lamar | 38
13. Nicholls | 15