WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. - Aug. 13 - The Erie Community College volleyball team is ranked eighth in the NJCAA Division III preseason poll.
The Kats, who went 29-4 in 2011 and were the Region III Tournament runners-up, were also eighth in the final 2011 poll.
"Starting the season in the Top 10 is exciting for us, as we've never been in this spot at the start of the year," said ECC head coach Craig Starzynski, who was named the 2011 Western New York Athletic Conference coach of the year. "Our athletes know we're going to get every team's best game when we face them this season. We have high expectations for the season and I think our athletes are up for the challenge."
ECC is led by first-team All-America selection Rylie Bean (Hamburg, N.Y./Frontier). Bean, a middle blocker, is one of five sophomores returning. Katie Russi (Hamburg/Frontier), who was a first-team All-WNYAC and Region III selection, wrapped up 2011 ranked 16th nationally with a .359 hitting percentage. Classmates Korin Frantz (Grand Island, N.Y./Grand Island) and Katlyn Murphy (Buffalo/Mt. Mercy Academy) return to the Kats' front line while libero Ashley Viengmay (Cheektowaga, N.Y./Maryvale) is back.
The Kats open the 2012 season with three matches in Region III pod play at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, N.Y.