Boston, Mass. – Following the program's best season in nearly two decades, Clark University has been picked third in the New England Women's And Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) volleyball preseason coaches' poll it was announced on Tuesday.
The Cougars earned two first-place votes to finish behind top pick Springfield College and second place MIT – both of whom collected four first-place votes.
"It's humbling for our program to have the respect of our peers within the NEWMAC," said head coach Mickey Cahoon, who enters his tenth season on the Clark sidelines in 2016. "Being picked third in our preseason poll largely reflects the success of our team last year and ultimately has no impact on how this season will play out."
The Cougars return a wealth of talent from a team that advanced to the program's first-ever conference title match and wrapped up the 2015 campaign at 22-8. Included in that group of stellar returners are All-Americans Marina Ramos (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) and Rachel Webb (Celina, Texas). Ramos, a first-team all-conference selection, ended her sophomore season ranked 25th in the nation in kills per set (4.15), while Webb handed out 10.55 assists per set – good for 17th in the country.
Also back in the fold is second-team all-conference selection Mia Cattaneo (Santa Barbara, Calif.) who went over the 1,000 dig mark last season and is less than 150 digs away from setting a new school record.
The 2016 slate will be a challenge for the Scarlet and White as they square off against five teams that are receiving votes in the first AVCA Division III National Poll (MIT, Springfield, Mary Washington, Amherst and Heidelberg).
"Just as we have in the past, we will not define ourselves by the expectations and perceptions of others, but will aspire to be the best team we can be this year and expect more of ourselves than anyone can of us," said Cahoon.
The Cougars will kick off 2016 with a home contest next Thursday against the University of New England. First serve is slated for 6:00 p.m.