KINGSTON, R.I. – The Rhode Island volleyball team has been picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic 10 this season, in voting conducted among the league's head coaches.
Rhode Island will welcome back nine players from last year's team, which finished sixth in the Atlantic 10 with a conference record of 6-8.
Senior setter Lauren Pick is the only returning player to have appeared in each of Rhody's 107 sets last season while junior middle blocker Jenna McGuire saw action in 102 sets. Pick finished the year - her first as a starter - with 926 assists and was second on the team with 235 digs. McGuire ranked second on the squad in blocks (63) while also adding 169 kills.
Senior Olivia Budinich also saw significant time last season, appearing in 81 sets and registering 213 digs, 22 assists and 18 service aces.
Also returning will be senior Mckenzie Kiesle, junior Hazel Brown and sophomores Claire Chaplinsky, Sage Connors, Annie Ell and Kelsey Montgomery. Newcomers Tori Britton, Abby Fillion, Mariah Paulette, Ella Ratzloff, Gabrielle Shilling, Zoe Staats and Natale Zanellato will challenge for playing time as well.
Defending Atlantic 10 champion VCU was voted the preseason favorite, receiving all 10 of the league's first-place votes. Dayton was predicted to finish second, followed by Saint Louis, Duquesne and George Washington.
The 2018 volleyball season gets underway Friday with the Rams traveling to Philadelphia for the Hilton Penn's Landing Temple Invitational. Rhody will open the tournament against Loyola Marymount (11 a.m.) before facing the host Owls at 6 p.m. URI will close out competition on Saturday, with a 2 p.m. match against Hofstra.
2018 Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll
Team - Points (1st Place Votes)
1. VCU (10) - 100
2. Dayton - 90
3. Saint Louis - 80
4. Duquesne - 63
5. George Washington - 61
6. Rhode Island - 44
7. Fordham - 36
8. Davidson - 35
9. La Salle - 23
10. George Mason - 18