LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Rio Grande garnered a fourth place finish in the 2012 Mid-South Conference preseason coaches’ poll, which was released late last week by league officials.
The RedStorm, who finished 21-15 a year ago, received 65 total points in the balloting.
Lindsey Wilson College - last year’s regular season and tournament champions - grabbed the top position with nine first-place votes and 99 points, while Campbellsville University (87) and Georgetown College (86) rounded out the top three. Campbellsville and Georgetown both received one first-place vote from the coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Rio Grande, which won the conference’s East Division last season with a 6-5 record, returns a quartet of key players from its 2011 roster, including senior outside hitter Whitney Smith (Albany, OH), a first team All-MSC honoree last season.
Smith, who was named MSC Player of the Week three times last season, finished with 486 kills, a.278 hitting percentage, 58 service aces and 432 digs. She led the league in kills, was third in aces, sixth in hitting percentage and 11th in digs.
The list of returnees for head coach Billina Donaldson also includes seniors Erin Sherman and Lauren Raines, both first team All-MSC and Academic All-MSC selections a year ago, and junior setter Kayla Landaker.
Sherman, a middle blocker from South Webster, OH, led the MSC in blocks (133), was second in kills (400) and third among the league leaders in hitting percentage (.330). Raines, a libero from Albany, OH, led the conference with 646 digs and was credited with 66 service aces.
Landaker (Coshocton, OH) piled up 1,033 assists to rank third in the MSC.
University of the Cumberlands is projected to end up in fifth after garnering 62 voting points followed by Shawnee State University with 50 voting points. MSC newcomer Cumberland University (48 voting points) is seventh, St. Catharine College (44) is eighth and UVa.-Wise (27) is ninth in the preseason poll.
Bluefield College - also playing in its first season in the MSC - is 10th with 25 voting points and University of Pikeville rounded out the list in 11th with 12 points.
The MSC will not use a divisional format this season.
The league’s 2012 campaign begins later this month and concludes with the conference tournament Nov. 9-10 at the Frankfort Convention Center’s Farnham Dudgeon Arena in Frankfort, Ky.