SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The Georgia Southern Volleyball team was picked first in the Southern Conference's South Division in the annual preseason coaches poll. The Eagles also lead the Preseason All-Southern Conference Team with three players selected.

"It's nice to be noted by our peers and fellow SoCon coaches as being a pretty strong team coming into the season," said Head Coach Chad Callihan. "I try to not put too much stock in a preseason poll, but it's nice to be recognized. For our group it's important to note that the bullseye is on our back, and we are going to get the best match from each team."

Kate Van Dyke (Shawnee, Kan.), Bethany Sanford (Avondale, Ariz.) and Parker Small (Charlotte, N.C.) were all selected to the preseason team after stellar 2010 seasons. Van Dyke set the single-season school record for assists with 1,465 last year, while Small's .375 hitting percentage ranks second. Sanford is moving up the career kills chart and ranks third in Eagle history with 1,151.

"It's a nice honor for our kids, and hopefully they will have a season that lives up to the preseason hype so that they can receive some of those accolades at the end of the year," said Coach Callihan. "It shows the body of work that they have put together over the years here at Georgia Southern."

Elon was voted to finish first in the North Division with seven first-place votes. Samford, who was tabbed second, received three votes and Appalachian State earned the final two first-place votes.

Georgia Southern earned nine of the 11 first-place votes in the South Division. The defending South Division champion, College of Charleston, picked up two votes while Furman received the final vote.

GSU finished second in the South Division last year and won the 2010 Southern Conference Tournament with a 3-0 match victory over the College of Charleston. The Eagles lost only two sets all tournament and won games 3-1 over host Appalachian State and Elon en route to the title game. The 2011 SoCon Tournament will be held in Birmingham, Ala.

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