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July 8, 1998

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The University of Virginia volleyball team is expected to finish seventh in the 1998 Atlantic Coast Conference volleyball season, according to a pre-season poll voted upon by all nine of the ACC head volleyball coaches.

Florida State was selected as the 1998 ACC pre-season favorite. FSU collected all nine first-place votes and gathered 81 points. The Seminoles return all six starters, including 1997 ACC Rookie-of-the-Year Kate Hemlepp, from last seasons second place team that finished 25-9. Clemson, who won the 1997 ACC Championship title, captured second place with 67 points. The Tigers return four starters from last year’s team, including two-time All-ACC performer Cindy Stern.

Georgia Tech and North Carolina tied for third place with 53 points. The Yellow Jackets finished the 1997 regular season tied for third with Clemson and return three starters, including three-time All-ACC performer Carla Gardner. The Tar Heels placed sixth in the conference last season and return five starters, including two-time All-ACC standout Tori Seibert and setter Erin Berg.

Duke claimed fifth place with 50 points, followed by 1997 ACC regular season champion Maryland in sixth place with 45 points. Virginia was tabbed seventh in the poll with 23 points. The Cavaliers return four starters from last seasons 18-16 team. Wake Forest (18 points) and N.C. State (15 points) round out the poll.

Virginia is coming off consecutive winning seasons in 1996 and 1997, posting a record of 42-27 during that span. With a cast of several experienced letterwinner, solid depth and a talented recruiting class, Virginia is geared to make a run to the top of the conference in 1998.

“Where this team was in 1995, and where it is now (1998) is a whole other level of play,” says Virginia head volleyball coach Melissa Aldrich Shelton. “The talent level in the ACC is at an all-time high. Having raised our level of play over the past couple seasons, we are a much better team than we were three or four years ago. But we still finished in the bottom third of the conference standings in 1997. Although we vastly improved, all the teams in the ACC have improved a great deal as well. I hope this season, we will move into the middle of the pack or higher in the regular season, and then put together a strong run in the conference tournament,” says Aldrich Shelton.

1998 Coaches Pre-Season ACC Volleyball Poll

 Rk. School            Pts.    1997 Final Records  1. Florida State      81     25-9, 11-5 ACC/2nd  2. Clemson            67     26-8, 10-6 ACC/T3rd  3. Georgia Tech       53     19-15, 10-6 ACC/T3rd     North Carolina     53     14-17, 6-10 ACC/T6th  5. Duke               50     15-16, 9-7 ACC/5th  6. Maryland           45     27-2, 16-0 ACC/1st  7. VIRGINIA           23     18-16, 6-10 ACC/T6th  8. Wake Forest        18     8-24, 1-15 ACC/9th  9. N.C. State         15     12-23, 3-13/8th 
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