|Robert Morris Slotted Fourth in NEC Preseason Poll|
Moon Township, Pa. - The Robert Morris University volleyball team was selected to finish fourth in the annual Northeast Conference (NEC) Preseason Poll as selected by the league's head coaches.
RMU also garnered one first-place vote in the poll, marking the fourth time in the past five years in which the Colonials have received at least one first-place vote.
The Colonials' position in the preseason poll is consistent with their finish in the league from a season ago, but RMU also returns numerous student-athletes that played significant roles as freshmen in 2011 and now have a full collegiate season under their belt.
Robert Morris qualified for its 13th-consecutive NEC Tournament in 2011, extending the league's longest active streak, as the Colonials have posted a winning NEC mark in 13 straight seasons, a conference record for any member past or present. RMU also defeated local BIG EAST rival Pittsburgh for the first time in program history in 2011.
Third-year head coach Dale Starr led an incredibly young squad a year ago as five true freshmen competed in over 50 percent of the team's sets with four of those rookies seeing action in over 80 percent of RMU's sets. Each of those five student-athletes is returning in 2012, but they will also be joined by a few veterans looking to cap off their careers on a high note.
Senior outside hitter Lindsey Monger (Rising Sun, Md. / Rising Sun) returns after claiming All-NEC honors a season ago after being the only individual in the league to finish among the conference's top 10 in both kills per set and digs per set. She posted 391 kills, the seventh most in single-season school history and the highest figure by a Colonial since 2004. She added a career-high 385 digs and tallied 17 double-doubles, tied for the most by a Colonial since 2003. Entering her senior season, Monger has a shot to become only the second Colonial in program history to surpass both the 1,000 kill and 1,000 dig plateaus.
Fellow senior Amanda Craig (Houston, Texas / St. Agnes Academy) posted at least 200 kills for the third consecutive season in 2011 despite missing the final six matches of the campaign due to injury. Craig's .302 hitting percentage in league matches ranked among the top 10 in the NEC, and she was also named to all-tournament teams at events held at West Virginia and Robert Morris. Craig already ranks seventh in career block assists (190) at RMU entering her final season.
Other top returnees for the Colonials include sophomores Erica Robb (Novi, Mich. / Novi) (246 kills, 234 digs in 2011), Hannah Hoffman (Parker, Colo. / Ponderosa) (1,168 assists, 219 digs in 2011) and Melissa Bograd (Lemont, Ill. / Lemont) (team-leading 393 digs in 2011).
The last time Robert Morris was selected fourth in the preseason poll was prior to the 2010 season. The Colonials finished that year 13-3 in league play, one game out of first place, and advanced to the league championship match.
RMU will take to the court for the first time this season next Friday, Aug. 24, at 5:00 p.m. as it faces New Hampshire for the first time in program history. The Colonials will complete the four-team tournament the following day as they face Maryland and host Villanova.
2012 Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll
(first-place votes in parentheses)
1. Sacred Heart (8)
2. LIU Brooklyn
3. Central Connecticut State
4. Robert Morris (1)
6. Saint Francis (Pa.)
7. Fairleigh Dickinson
8. St. Francis (N.Y.)