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GREENVILLE, Pa. (–Following last year’s Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) Championship Tournament title, the Bethany College women’s volleyball program has been selected as the league favorite in 2019.

Bethany, led by 13th-year head coach and three-time PAC Coach of the Year (2009, 2016, 2018) Courtney Kline, claimed five first-place votes and 68 points in this year’s preseason coaches’ poll, which was voted on by the conference’s nine head coaches. The results of the poll were announced with the league’s players to watch list Friday morning.

The Bison, the first three seed to claim the PAC title since 2013, dropped just one set in their 2018 championship tournament title run. Last year was Bethany’s second conference championship (2016) and second time securing the league’s automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. Last season also marked the program’s fourth title match appearance in the last eight years.

Westminster College and 27th-year head coach Tammy Swearingen registered one first-place vote and 60 points to finish second. The Titans earned the top seed and hosting rights for the semifinal and championship rounds of last year’s championship tournament after posting a 15-1 PAC regular season record. Last year was Westminster’s second-straight season appearing in the PAC title match.

Washington & Jefferson College, led by third-year head coach Lauren London-Law, finished third with a pair of first-place votes and 58 points. The Presidents entered the 2018 championship tournament as the number two seed for the first time since back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006. It was the sixth-straight year the program qualified for the championship tournament.

Geneva College and 20th-year head coach Wendy Smith totaled 50 points to finish fourth. Thiel College, led by third-year head coach Tyler North, secured the final first-place vote and 49 points to finish fifth.

Saint Vincent College was picked sixth (33) and was followed by Chatham University in seventh (31), Grove City College in eighth (29) and Waynesburg University in ninth (18).

In addition to Bethany’s appearance in the Division III Championship, Geneva and Westminster also received postseason invitations. Geneva earned an at-large bid to the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Division II Championship while Westminster was one of 13 schools selected to compete in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Championship.

The players to watch list includes three All-PAC First Team selections, five All-PAC Second Team selections and four All-PAC Honorable Mention selections. Bethany senior outside hitter Katie Sparks (Macedonia, Ohio | Trinity), Geneva junior setter Daphne Hunsinger (Harleysville, Pa. | Christopher Dock) and W&J senior setter Mallory O’Brien (Pittsburgh, Pa. | Baldwin) return as the league’s lone 2018 first team honorees.

Westminster freshman middle hitter Becky Adelman (Mogadore, Ohio | Waterloo), last year’s PAC Newcomer of the Year, was an All-PAC Second Team selection.

This year’s players to watch list also includes 13 members of the Fall 2018 PAC Academic Honor Roll, which recognizes student-athletes on varsity sports teams that earned a grade-point average (GPA) of 3.6 or higher during their semester of competition.

The league’s regular season concludes Saturday, November 2 and the six-team PAC Championship Tournament is scheduled to get underway Tuesday, Nov. 5. The championship match is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9.

This year’s championship tournament winner will receive the PAC’s automatic qualifying bid to the Division III Championship, with team selections announced Monday, Nov. 11. Preliminary rounds are scheduled to get underway Friday, Nov.  15.

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