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Westminster favored in PAC women's volleyball preseason coaches' poll

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Volleyball: Titans Win Sixth Shutout of Season

GREENVILLE, Pa. ( its second-straight Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) Championship Tournament title, the Westminster College women’s volleyball program has been selected as the league favorite in 2021, according to the league's annual preseason coaches' poll. The results of this year's poll, voted on by the conference's 10 head coaches, were revealed with the PAC's Players to Watch List Wednesday afternoon. 

Westminster, led by 29th-year head coach Tammy Swearingen, claimed eight first-place votes and 89 total points to top this year's preseason coaches' poll. 

The No. 1 seed in last spring's championship tournament, Westminster did not drop a set in its two tournament wins. Westminster secured a 3-0 victory over No. 3 Grove City College in the championship tournament title match on April 15. It was the program's fifth PAC championship. Westminster has advanced to the league's title match in each of the last four seasons.

Bethany College and Grove City tied for second in the preseason coaches' poll, with each program collecting one first-place vote and 73 total points. 

Bethany, led by 15th-year head coach Courtney Hilyer, was the No. 4 seed in the conference's championship tournament last spring. On April 10 the Bison suffered a five-set loss to No. 5 Washington & Jefferson College in the quarterfinal round. The 2018 PAC champion, Bethany had made eight-straight appearances in the semifinal round before suffering quarterfinal losses in 2019 and 2020-21. Bethany owns a pair of PAC titles. 

Led by third-year head coach Leo Sayles, Grove City earned the No. 3 seed in the league's championship tournament last spring. The Wolverines secured a straight-set win over No. 2 Geneva College in the semifinal round on April 13 and advanced to the championship tournament's title match for the first time since 2002. In 2019, Sayles guided the Grove City volleyball program to its first 20-win season in 12 years. Grove City owns a PAC-best nine conference championships, with its last coming in 2001. 

W&J registered 71 points to finish fourth while Geneva was fifth (57). Saint Vincent College and Thiel College tied for sixth with 45 points. Chatham University was eighth (41), followed by Franciscan University in ninth (24) and Waynesburg University in 10th (22). 

This season’s players to watch list includes seven All-PAC First Team selections, six All-PAC Second Team selections and nine All-PAC Honorable Mention selections from last spring. 

Westminster senior Maya Steward (Tarzana, Calif. | William Howard Taft) and Grove City sophomore Anna DeGraaf (Cranberry Township, Pa. | Seneca Valley) highlight this year's players to watch list. In April Steward was voted the PAC Player of the Year while DeGraaf collected the PAC Newcomer of the Year award. 

Steward and DeGraaf also earned spots on the league's All-Tournament Team after the conclusion of the six-team event last spring, with Steward claiming Most Outstanding Player honors. 

A three-time All-PAC selection (second team in 2018 and 2019), Steward averaged 3.58 kills and 3.95 points per match while hitting .249 (118-35-334). Her 118 kills last spring ranked fourth in the league. Steward racked up 91 kills during Westminster's 8-0 conference regular season. She had 15 or more kills on three occasions this season, including tying her career high with 17 in the conference tournament title match. 

DeGraaf had a terrific first season for Grove City, finishing fourth in the PAC in total blocks (35.0) and fifth with a .280 hitting percentage (105-31-264). Her 105 kills were the third-most by a Grove City player this season. Her 135.0 points scored this season were the sixth-most in the league. 

The players to watch list includes 23 members of the 2020-21 PAC Academic Honor Roll, which recognizes student-athletes on varsity sports teams who have earned a grade-point average (GPA) of 3.6 or higher on a 4.0 scale during their semester of competition. Three players included also earned College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Division III First Team Academic All-District® honors on June 10, as voted upon by the region's sports information directors, with Thiel senior Courtney Grubbs (Freeport, Pa. | Freeport) being named to the 2020-21 Academic All-America® Third Team July 14.

The league’s regular season concludes Saturday, October 30 with the six-team PAC Championship Tournament scheduled to get underway Tuesday, November 2. The title match is slated for Saturday, Nov. 6. 

This year’s tournament champion will secure the PAC’s automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. Team selections for the Division III Championship will be announced Monday, Nov. 8, with regional action slated for Thursday-Sunday, Nov. 11-14.  

2021 PAC Women's Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll (Predicted order of finish)
School (first-place votes)Points2020-21 record (PAC)
1. Westminster College (8)8910-1 (8-0)
T-2. Bethany College (1)735-5 (5-3)
T-2. Grove City College (1)737-5 (7-3)
4. Washington & Jefferson College717-6 (5-4)
5. Geneva College5710-2 (6-1)
T-6. Saint Vincent College453-7 (2-7)
T-6. Thiel College452-9 (2-7)
8. Chatham University415-5 (3-5)
9. Franciscan University243-6 (3-6)
10. Waynesburg University222-10 (2-6)

2021 PAC Women's Volleyball Players to Watch

NameYr.Pos.Hometown | High School
Lynn BurtonSo.SColumbus, Ohio | Westerville North
Brooke CorleySr.LIBScottdale, Pa. | Westmoreland
Riley FeltonJr.OPPSalineville, Ohio | Southern Local
Emma MarthinsSo.MBElkridge, Md. | Howard
Jess MooreSr.OHStewartstown, Pa. | Kennard-Dale


NameYr.Pos.Hometown | High School
Amelia BogovichSo.OHForrest Hills, Pa. | Serra Catholic
Meghan DominekSo.DSPittsburgh, Pa. | North Hills 
Rylee RitkoJr.OHHollidaysburg, Pa. | Hollidaysburg
NameYr.Pos.Hometown | High School
Renee AntonelliSr.OHWintersville, Ohio | Indian Creek
Maria BoscoSr.MBCranberry Township, Pa. | Quigley Catholic
Emily NutterSr.SJohnstown, Ohio | Newark Catholic
Caitlin O'MalleySr.RSAlturas, Calif. | Modoc
Lucy PridemoreFr.MBCarrollton, Ohio | Carrollton


NameYr.Pos.Hometown | High School
Hannah DusseSr.MHPlant City, Fla. | Lakeland Christian
Tess NevilleSo.OHLisbon, Ohio | Crestview
Natalie ParraJr.DSHurricane, W.Va. | Homeschooled
Samantha PeacheySo.SColorado Springs, Colo. | Liberty
Maggie TownsendJr.OHBeaver Falls, Pa. | Beaver County Christian


Grove City
NameYr.Pos.Hometown | High School
Robyn CollierJr.RSCorona, Calif. | Carnegie Riverside
Anna DeGraafSo.MBCranberry Township, Pa. | Seneca Valley
Faith KeatingJr.OHTroy, Mich. | Troy
Gabby LucasSo.LIBButler, Pa. | Butler
Saint Vincent
NameYr.Pos.Hometown | High School
Carly AugustineJr.SLatrobe, Pa. | Greater Latrobe
Madie MarsicoJr.LIBOlmsted Falls, Ohio | Olmsted Falls
Luciana PolkSo.OHPittsburgh, Pa. | Mount Lebanon


NameYr.Pos.Hometown | High School
Kylee EatonJr.OHParker, Pa. | Allegheny-Clarion Valley
Courtney GrubbsSr.SFreeport, Pa. | Freeport
Hailley KendallSr.DSSaint Paris, Ohio | Graham
Raquel McDonaldJr.MBSyracuse, N.Y. | Bishop Grimes
Emily SearsSr.DSJefferson, Ohio | Geneva


NameYr.Pos.Hometown | High School
Lizzie CarmichaelSo.MHWyoming, Ohio | Wyoming
Sophia SacriponteJr.OHButler, Pa. | Butler
Claire SauerlandJr.OHHollidaysburg, Pa. | Hollidaysburg
Alexis TomassiniSr.SGettysburg, Pa. | Gettysburg


NameYr.Pos.Hometown | High School
Mya BrooksSr.RSLansing, Mich. | Holt
Hannah BuhrSr.OHJefferson, Md. | Brunswick
Madisen DaytonFr.OHRidgely, W.Va. | Calvary Christian Academy
Alyson JohnsonSr.LIBRaceland, Ky. | St. Joseph Central Catholic
Kayla StohonJr.MHSummerhill, Pa. | Forrest Hills


NameYr.Pos.Hometown | High School
Becky AdelmanSr.OHMogadore, Ohio | Waterloo
Malia DuffySo.LIBAllison Park, Pa. | North Allegheny
Samantha KellySr.SIrwin, Pa. | Penn-Trafford
Kaylee SciubbaJr.MHTarentum, Pa. | Deer Lakes
Maya StewardSr.OHTarzana, Calif. | William Howard Taft

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