Preseason ASUN Release Liberty seniors Casey Goodwin and Anna Gragg have both been named to the 2019 ASUN Preseason All-Conference Volleyball Team. Senior setter Hannah Morris was named the Fan-Voted ASUN Preseason Setter of the Year. Additionally, the Lady Flames appear fourth in the ASUN Preseason Volleyball Poll, released Monday by the league office. The poll was voted on by all nine of the conference's head coaches.
Liberty is one of three teams with players honored on the preseason all-conference team, as FGCU received three honorees followed by two each from the Lady Flames and Kennesaw State. The last time Liberty placed two players on a conference's preseason all-conference volleyball poll was 2017, when Gragg and Anna Willey were honored.
A native of Rougemont, N.C., Goodwin is a two-time all-conference selection, earning a spot on the 2018 ASUN All-Conference first team. She finished the season ranked fifth in the conference with 3.00 kills per set, led the ASUN with 40 aces and was 55th in the nation in aces per set. Goodwin led the team with 14 double-digit kill matches, including a career-high 25 against North Florida on Oct. 21.
Hailing from Missoula, Mont., Gragg is a three-time all-conference honoree. A second team All-ASUN performer last year, she enters her senior season tied for 10th in program history with 313 career blocks. Gragg is the first player in program history with three straight 100-block seasons. Last year, she finished the season ranked third in the ASUN in overall hitting percentage (.361) and second in conference play (.435).
Morris, a Lynchburg native, received 240 votes in the Facebook fan poll in order to be named Fan-Voted ASUN Preseason Volleyball Setter of the Year. She was voted to the ASUN All-Academic Team last year. During Liberty's first year in the ASUN, Morris distributed for an offense that ranked third in the conference with a .264 hitting percentage in league matches. The setter dished out a team-leading 966 assists, which included five 40-assist matches.
Defending ASUN regular-season and tournament champion Florida Gulf Coast was voted the preseason favorite by the head coaches, with 80 total points and eight first-place votes. Kennesaw State, the 2017 ASUN champion and last year's runner-up, was picked second with 66 points and one first-place vote, followed in third by Lipscomb (62 points). Liberty trailed Lipscomb by just two points, receiving 60 points.
North Florida and Stetson are tied for fifth with 40 points each, followed by Jacksonville (27), North Alabama (20) and NJIT (10).
The Lady Flames went 15-17 last year, including 10-6 in ASUN play during their first year in the conference. Liberty earned the fourth seed for the 2018 ASUN Volleyball Championship, becoming the first volleyball team since ETSU in 2005 to make the ASUN Tournament in its first year in the conference. By sweeping Stetson in the ASUN quarterfinal, Liberty earned a spot in the conference semifinals for the third straight year.
Liberty begins its 2019 schedule on Aug. 31, competing at the Texas State Invitational in San Marcos, Texas. The Lady Flames host the Liberty Volleyball Invitational, Sept. 6-7 at the Vines Center, taking on Elon, Virginia Tech and Davidson during their home-opening weekend. The team opens conference play at home against FGCU on Sept. 24.
The 2019 ASUN Volleyball Championship will be a six-team tournament, held at Alico Arena in Fort Myers, Fla. The winner of the ASUN Volleyball Championship will earn the ASUN's automatic berth into the 2019 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship. North Alabama, in its second year of transition from Division II to Division I membership, is eligible to compete in the conference tournament, but cannot compete in the NCAA Championship.
2019 ASUN Conference Preseason Volleyball Poll Team (First-place votes) – Points 1. FGCU (8) 80 2. Kennesaw State (1) 66 3. Lipscomb 62 4. Liberty 60 5T. North Florida 40 5T. Stetson 40 7. Jacksonville 27 8. North Alabama 20 9. NJIT 10
2019 Preseason All-ASUN Team Dana Axner, FGCU, So., L Lexi Broadwater, Kennesaw State, Sr., S Amanda Carroll, FGCU, Sr., OH Lauren Chastang, Kennesaw State, Jr., OH* Casey Goodwin, Liberty, Sr., RS Anna Gragg, Liberty, Sr., MB Cortney VanLiew, FGCU, Jr., OH
* Denotes unanimous selection to preseason team
Preseason Player of the Year: Cortney VanLiew Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Dana Axner, FGCU Preseason Setter of the Year: Lexi Broadwater, Kennesaw State
Fan-Voted Preseason Player of the Year: Christina Ellwanger, North Alabama Fan-Voted Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Rocio Moro, North Florida Fan-Voted Preseason Setter of the Year: Hannah Morris, Liberty
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