FORT SMITH (KFSM) - The UAFS volleyball team earned a lot of attention and respect from NCAA Division II coaches throughout the country last fall during its history-making run to the Final Four.
That was even more apparent on Tuesday with the release of the AVCA Preseason Top 25. UAFS is ranked No. 21 in the preseason poll.
It’s the first time the Lady Lions have been ranked in a preseason poll during their seven-year history as a NCAA Division II program. UAFS finished last season ranked No. 13 in the final poll.
“We can definitely build on that,” UAFS coach Jane Sargent said. “We are playing a couple of teams in the Top 25 this year. If we can manage to get past them, it’s going to help us in the polls. It will help us in our recruiting and help is in a lot of things.”
UAFS is the only Heartland Conference team to be ranked or receive votes in the Top 25 and is one of seven South Central Region teams to either be ranked or receive votes in the poll – Colorado School of Mines (No. 8), Colorado Mesa (No. 10), West Texas A&M (No. 22), Metro State (RV), Angelo State (RV) and Tarleton State (RV).
“It just brings recognition to our school. Last year’s team did a great job of that and kind of put us on the map after being a junior college program for so long,” Sargent said. “We just have to build on it.”
Defending national champion Tampa, which beat UAFS 3-1 in the national semifinals last fall, is the No. 1 team in the nation, receiving 43 of the 48 first place votes.
Concordia-St. Paul received four first place votes and is No. 2. Southwest Minnesota State, which lost to Tampa in the national championship match, is No. 3. Minnesota Duluth received one first place vote and is No. 4. Nebraska-Kearney is No. 5.
-UAFS Sports Information