Volleyball Checks-In at No. 8 in AVCA Preseason Top-25 Poll
EXINGTON, Ky. – With preseason camp for Ithaca College women's volleyball set to tip-off in mere days, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) released its Preseason Top-25 Poll on Tuesday afternoon. For the seventh time in the program's 50-year history, Ithaca was listed in the association's initial poll of the season, as the Bombers were tabbed eighth with 1,045 points. IC's placement in the rankings is the same spot in which it finished the 2017 campaign. The Bombers concluded last season in the No. 8 spot after advancing to its first Final Four appearance dating back to the 1995 season. While that ranking represented the third-highest ranking Ithaca had ever finished the season with, Tuesday's release also represents just the third time Ithaca has ever started a season ranked so highly in the AVCA's initial poll. The two other times IC cracked the Top-10 of the first poll were in back-to-back seasons in 1994 and 1995 when the Bombers' started the year ranked third and sixth, respectively. Tuesday's announcement also marks the first time IC has appeared in the Top-25 of the initial poll dating back to 2000 when the Bombers began the season ranked 14th. Ithaca's other appearances in the initial poll were: 13th in 1996, 14th in 1997, and 13th again in 1999. The 2018 preseason poll looks quite similar to the final 2017 AVCA Top-25 Poll at the top. Nine teams that finished the year in the Top-10 a season ago are among the Top-10 to begin the 2018 season. Beginning the year at the top is defending 2017 National Champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps who received 42 first-place votes and 1,476 points overall to hold the top spot. Rounding out the Top-5 are: Calvin (1,418), Colorado College (1,400), Wittenberg (1,379), and Emory (1,307). Calvin received three first-place votes and narrowly edged out Colorado College who garnered nine first-place votes in the initial poll. Wittenberg and Emory were the other teams to receive at least one first-place vote, earning seven and one, respectively. Joining Ithaca in the back half of the Top-10 are: No. 6 Johnson & Wales (1,121), No. 7 Gustavus Adolphus (1,073), No. 9 Southwestern (917), and No. 10 Washington-St. Louis (864). Washington-St. Louis was the lone program in Tuesday's release to not be ranked in the Top-10 of last year's final poll. The Bombers knew that the 2018 schedule would be a challenge and Tuesday's announcement certainly corroborated that with many of IC's upcoming opponents gaining recognition in the release. Ithaca will face four programs ranked in the initial poll. Headlining the group are No. 2 Calvin (Aug. 31) and No. 4 Wittenberg (Sept. 14), while IC will also have a road tilt at No. 12 Carnegie Mellon (Oct. 26) and a home matchup against No. 17 Juniata (Sept. 1). Additionally, six other 2018 regular-season opponents received votes in Tuesday's poll. The group includes: Wesleyan (84), Stevens Institute of Technology (44), Clarkson (12), Vassar (7), Mary Washington (6), and Susquehanna (3). The tough tests will come right off the hop for Ithaca, as it will face the majority of these opponents within the first two weeks of competition. Only the two Liberty League matchups and the tilt with Carnegie Mellon occur after the second week of the season. The Bombers will open the 2018 campaign with perhaps its toughest test of the season, as second-ranked Calvin comes to Ben Light Gymnasium for a Top-10 clash on Friday, August 31, at 7:00 p.m. The opening weekend continues the following day with matches against Stevens at 11:00 a.m. and No. 17 Juniata at 4:00 p.m. Stay tuned for a full season preview on the Ithaca College volleyball team in the coming weeks.