Coaches Pick Tide To Win West

In a pre-season poll of Southeastern Conference coaches, Alabama is picked to win the Western Division and take second place overall in the SEC in volleyball competition this fall.

Florida was selected to finish first in the East with 10 points along with 10 first place votes for the conference championship.

Alabama was selected second overall, although the lone SEC championship vote not going to Florida went to Kentucky. (There are only 11 voters in SEC volleyball because Vanderbilt does not field a team in the sport.)

Behind the Tide in the West is LSU, followed by Arkansas and Ole Miss. Auburn and Mississippi State round out the Western Division in the fifth and sixth place positions.

Coming off its second trip to the NCAA tournament, the Crimson Tide is looking re-claim the Western division title after losing it to LSU last season. Alabama returns five starters from last year's squad, including All-America and All-SEC middle blocker Crystal Hudson and All-SEC outside hitter Bridget Fuentez. Setter Brigitte Slack, opposite hitter Liz Salstrand and libero Amy Pauly round out the list of returning starters.

"I think it is a great spot for our team to be in to start the season," said Alabama Coach Judy Green. "Our team has high expectations and we have a lot of work to do to make ourselves a conference contender but I think the poll says a lot about the respect people have across the conference about our program. We have a lot of experience returning and being at the top is a goal for our team. Hopefully our work habits will reflect that as we go through the season."

Alabama also received votes on the national level as the CSTV/AVCA released its top 25 coach's pre-season poll. The Nebraska Cornhuskers occupy the number one spot after its 33-1 campaign en route to the NCAA Division I national championship. The Stanford Cardinal is ranked second in the pre-season poll and the Penn State Nittany Lions round out the top three.

The Tide received top 25 votes on 22 coaches' ballots, placing them just outside a national ranking to start the 2007 season.

"I think it is very exciting that our name is in there amongst the best programs in the nation," said Green. "It is something we strive for but it's not something we are going to talk about on a daily basis. If we do move into the top 25 it will be a reward of the work we started putting in last January and will continue into the regular season."

Alabama opens the season at the Oklahoma Sooners Legends/Nike Invitational August 24 – 25 in Norman. The Tide faces off against Seton Hall Friday, August 24 before facing Denver and number 22 Oklahoma on Saturday, August 25.

Alabama's home schedule opens with UAB Friday, August, 31, at 12:30 p.m. at the Academy Sports Bama Bash in the CAVE.

For season tickets contact the Alabama Ticket Office at 205.348.2262, or visit

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