LOCK HAVEN, Pa. – Clarion University and East Stroudsburg University were chosen to win their respective divisions according to the 2022 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Preseason Polls, as voted on the by the league’s head coaches, league office announced Thursday.
Clarion has come out on top of the West poll, receiving five first-place votes as the reigning PSAC Volleyball Champions. Though winning their first PSAC title in 11 years, the Golden Eagles were outmatched by Edinboro in the first round of the Atlantic Regional tournament. Their season ended with a 22-10 overall record and an 11-5 mark within the PSAC. Hoping to repeat, Clarion will be headlined by returning West Rookie of the Year, Cassidy Snider, who led the league in points and kills. Alongside her will be fellow All-PSAC members Julia Piccolino and London Fuller.
Picked to fill the second spot is Gannon. Earning three first-place votes, the Golden Knights won the West regular season title last season on a 13-3 conference finish. Despite falling short to Clarion in the 2021 PSAC Volleyball Championship match, Gannon went on to dominate the Atlantic Regional tournament, sweeping Wheeling in the finals. From there, the Golden Knights would make their sixth NCAA Division II Elite Eight appearance. A victory over Hillsdale would then lead them to their second ever program appearance in the national semifinals, where their postseason run would finally come to an end in a loss to Tampa. In 2022, Maggie Greenfield returns as a redshirt senior after being named an AVCA All-Region honoree. She’s joined by the team-leader in digs, Emma Hall, in addition to Sam Deinek who finished third on the team in kills.
Nabbing a single first-place vote in the West, Edinboro slides into the third slot in the poll. The Fighting Scots were 22-7 overall and 13-3 last year. Sent home by Clarion in the opening round of PSAC playoff competition, Edinboro responded with a victory over the Golden Eagles in the first round of the Atlantic Region tournament. Defeated in the second round of the same tournament to close the season, Edinboro enters 2022 under the leadership of West Coach of the Year Missy Soboleski. All-PSAC selections Bella Burrelli and Alicia Eldredge will also rejoin the squad.
IUP places fourth after they went 18-14 overall and 8-8 missing the playoffs in 2021. This year’s roster brings back plenty of experience with 11 returning upperclassmen, including AVCA All-Atlantic Region honoree, senior Caroline Walsh.
Coming in fifth of the nine teams in the Western Division is Pitt-Johnstown who will look to improve on a 5-11 conference mark from last season. They’ll turn to sophomore Adiamar Beaz who ranked third in league in assists with 9.99 per set and fourth in the league in aces with .49 per set.
Filling out the remainder of the West poll is California (Pa.), Mercyhurst, Seton Hill, and Slippery Rock, respectively.
With five first-place votes, East Stroudsburg claims the top spot in the Eastern division. Last season, the Warriors came up with the regular season title on a 12-2 conference record, also going 18-11 overall. The 2021 PSAC Championship saw East Stroudsburg get so far as the semifinals before ultimately falling to Clarion in four sets. Further on, a close five-set loss versus Gannon would bring their season to an end in the first round of the Atlantic Region tournament. In 2022, the Warriors return East Coach of the Year, Tricia Melfy, while also welcoming five freshmen to the team.
Coming in second are the Shepherd Rams with three first-place votes. The Rams also finished 12-2 in conference play in 2021, with a 24-5 overall mark. The team saw semifinal action in the 2021 PSAC Championship, but could not overcome Gannon in a three-set defeat. A loss at the hands of West Virginia State closed the team’s season in the opening round of the Atlantic Regional competition. The Rams’ 2022 squad includes D2CCA All-Atlantic Regional Second Team selection Mikaylah Hoy, as well as senior Kiara Rakestraw who recorded the second-most kills and aces on the team. The roster is rounded out by a large group of nine incoming freshmen.
West Chester was selected third by league head coaches after a 22-8 overall (10-4 PSAC) record. Competition in 2021 concluded for the Golden Rams when they fell to Shepherd in the PSAC Championship quarterfinals. West Chester brings back Jamie Byrne who achieved All-PSAC First Team honors as well as the fifth-most assists in the league with 9.9 per set as a rookie. The rest of the 2022 group also leans on young talent with 15 underclassmen.
Behind West Chester is Shippensburg. The Raiders’ 6-8 conference finish was not enough to make the postseason, but this year they’ll return All-PSAC Second Team honorees, Emily Gardner and Rachel Verhoef. Gardner led the team in kills and aces with 270 and 31, while Verhoef led defensively with 73 blocks.
The East is rounded out by Bloomsburg, Millersville, Kutztown, and Lock Haven.
2022 PSAC Preseason Volleyball Polls
WEST (Number of First-place votes)
1. Clarion (5)
2. Gannon (3)
3. Edinboro (1)
6. California (Pa.)
8. Seton Hill
9. Slippery Rock
EAST (Number of First-place votes)
1. East Stroudsburg (4)
2. Shepherd (3)
3. West Chester (1)
8. Lock Haven