Birmingham - Despite having the entire team back from last season, the Lady Charger volleyball team has been picked to finish fifth in the Gulf South Conference East Division Preseason poll by league coaches. The Lady Chargers finished the 2009 season fifth in the Division at 2-8. Overall, the young Lady Chargers were 8-28.
West Florida which has won the last two GSC titles, is again the favorite to win the East Division. The Argonauts received all first-place votes in tallying 25 points and the top spot in the division. North Alabama, got the lone remaining first-place vote and was second on the remaining ballots to earn 21 points overall and finish in second place. West Alabama and Valdosta State are tied for the third spot with 15 points. UAH (9) and West Georgia (5) round out the voting in the East.
All but one player from the 2009 team is back, along with all seven regular starters. In addition, outside hitter Stacey Sargent, who was injured in the first tournament of the season after a great start, is healthy and back in the lineup.
Senior middle hitter Allison Cousins leads the group of returning players. She led the Lady Chargers in scoring, averaging 2.47 kills per game. She also was the team leader in blocks with 71. Junior outside hitter Jessica Ruple is also back and healthy after being injured in the final of the season against Alabama A&M. Ruple was second on the team with 2.41 kills per contest. Also a solid defensive player, she was second on the team in digs with 319 (2.49/game). In addition, Ruple was third in service aces with 36.
Sophomore outside hitter Kelsey Williams was second in aces (38) and third on the team in kills/game (1.88) and digs (254 - 2.15 per/game) in 2009. Junior defensive specialist Kaeli McCaghren was the leader in digs with 373 (2.89/game), while sophomore setter Kelly Wilson paced the Lady Chargers in assists (1,095 - 8.49/game) and aces (44).
Before her season was cut short, Sargent was leading the team in scoring, knocking down 2.71 kills/game in 14 contests.
The Lady Chargers open the season with three tournaments. The first stop is in Pensacola at the UWF/Comfort Inn Invitational on Sept. 3-4. The next weekend, the Lady Chargers head to the Georgia coast to play in the Armstrong Atlantic Tournament in Savannah (Sept. 10-11). The Lady Chargers return home the third weekend in September (Sept. 16-18) to host the Country Inn & Suites Classic.