After winning its 10th straight league title and finishing as the national runners-up in 2015, the North Coast Athletic Conference volleyball coaches have once again predicted the Wittenberg Tigers as the preseason favorites for the 2016 season after balloting by the league coaches.
The Tigers, who collected their conference-leading 21st NCAC title a year ago after posting a perfect 8-0 record against league foes for the fourth year in a row, earned all nine first-place votes cast by league coaches for 81 total points. DePauw, which has finished as the NCAC Tournament runners-up in each of the last two seasons, finished second in the poll with 68 points, while Ohio Wesleyan finished just one point behind DePauw in third with 67 points after finishing the 2015 season in second place with a 7-1 mark against league foes. Denison checked in at fourth with 45 points, followed by Kenyon in fifth (41), Hiram in sixth (38) and Oberlin in seventh (23), while Allegheny and Wooster shared the eighth spot in the poll with 21 points each.
Wittenberg will once again be under the leadership of head coach Paco Labrador, who enters his 14th season with the Tigers with an overall record of 406-62, which includes an impressive mark of 146-2 against NCAC opponents. Despite losing several key contributors from their 2015 squad, the Tigers return a wealth of talent this fall that will look to keep the rich tradition alive in Springfield. A six-member senior class provides a bulk of the returning talent from a year ago, led by outside hitter Camila Quiñones (Sunbury, OH/Worthington Christian), libero Courtney Huck (Decatur, IL/St. Teresa) and the middle hitter duo of Kendall Farmer (Gurnee, IL/Warren Twp.) and Emily Kahlig (Coldwater, OH/Coldwater). Quiñones is the Tigers' top returning attacker from a year ago with 159 kills, while Farmer paced the 2015 squad in both service aces (23) and blocks (104). Kahlig is also expected to be a force at the net for the Tigers this fall after compiling 146 kills and 72 blocks last season, while Huck is the squad's top returning defensive specialist from a year ago with 136 digs in 90 total sets.
The 2016 NCAC volleyball season kicks off on the first weekend of September with several teams competing in early season tournaments, while the first conference matches of the season are scheduled for Friday, September 23rd. The 2016 NCAC Volleyball Tournament will be held November 4-5 at the site of the regular season conference champions.
2016 North Coast Athletic Conference Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll