DENTON (8/22/05) -- The North Texas volleyball team has been picked to finish third in the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference according to the league’s 2005 preseason coaches poll, announced Monday afternoon by the conference office.
The Mean Green received 43 points in the poll, just three points behind New Orleans and 16 behind division favorite Denver. NT finished at least 18 points ahead of the three remaining teams in the West Division voting, including Louisiana Lafayette (25 points), South Alabama (21 points) and conference newcomer Troy (16 points).
Western Kentucky is expected to win the East Division championship, earning 17 more points than second-place Arkansas State. ASU received 31 points and was followed by Middle Tennessee (29 points), Arkansas-Little Rock (29 points) and Florida International (13 points).
While the Mean Green posted a 6-9 Sun Belt Conference record in 2004 and finished in fourth place, it collected second place in the West Division each of the previous two years with a combined record of 21-9.
The 2005 Preseason All-Sun Belt Team has also been named, headed by preseason player of the year Caron Blotch of Western Kentucky. The remaining players on the team are Ana Carolina Buccini (UALR), Ivanka Davidova (UALR), Jayne Duncan (UNO), Lisa Hunter (Denver), Katie Peil (ASU), Crystal Tower (WKU) and Jessie Wagner (WKU). Duncan was named the preseason defensive player of the year.
North Texas opens the 2005 season this weekend at the Arkansas Invitational. The Mean Green will play Belmont at 12 p.m. and Arkansas at 7 p.m. on Friday before closing out the tournament with a match against Memphis at 2 p.m. on Saturday.