RICHARDSON, Texas — Eight-time defending champion West Texas A&M has been tabbed the favorite again in the Lone Star Conference’s preseason poll.
The Lady Buffs (35-4, 16-0 LSC a year ago) received all but two of 23 first-place votes and finished with 205 points in the poll. Angelo State, which got the other first-place tallies, was second with 184 points in the nine-team circuit.
WT has won 18 regular-season LSC titles, plus 15 LSC tourney crowns. Last year, the Lady Buffs advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
Eastern New Mexico University, under second-year coach Sia Poyer, finished eighth in the poll with 51 points, beating out Cameron (40). The Zias went 8-20 overall a year ago, including 4-12 in LSC play where they finished eighth, just ahead of Cameron.
Poyer said he wasn’t surprised by the poll.
“That’s where we finished last year,” he said. “I’m not upset or anything (with the poll), but we want to finish higher. We just have to keep getting better.”
ENMU did, though, end long losing streaks with wins over Midwestern State and Tarleton State last season.
The Zias return the league’s freshman of the year in 2013 in outside hitter Lauren Frye of Amissville, Va., a second-team All-LSC selection as well. Also back is another sophomore outside hitter from Rio Rancho, Courtney Lawson, who was an honorable mention All-LSC choice last fall.
They graduated middle blocker Kaitlyn Maddams and libero Hayley Couch, but have a number of key players back.
“Losing Hayley is huge,” Poyer said. “She led us in digs and was our team captain. I thought she was the best libero in the conference.
“I think we’ll be fine. We’re counting on our seniors to do a lot.”
In individual preseason awards, Texas A&M’s Amy Devault was tabbed the conference’s offensive player of the year, Angelo State’s Shelby Wilt was selected the defensive player of the year and WT’s Kameryn Hays was chosen setter of the year.
Awards and the poll were determined in a vote of league coaches and sports information directors, plus various media representatives.
The schedule begins in early September. The regular-season champion will host the top eight teams in the LSC tournament Nov. 13-15.
Team (1st-place votes) Pts
1. West Texas A&M (21) 205
2. Angelo State (2) 184
3. Texas Woman’s 149
4. Texas A&M-Commerce 129
5. Tarleton State 125
6. Midwestern State 83
7. Texas A&M-Kingsville 59
8. Eastern New Mexico 51
9. Cameron 40