Forest, Va. -- With 13 players returning and just two lost to graduation, University of Lynchburg's volleyball team is primed for a breakout season in 2019.
"We're already meshing well on the court and off the court," said senior libero Lauren Stanford, "which is just as important to success in matches. This is the kind of team that can make a run at a conference championship."
But the rest of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference hasn't placed the same high expectations on Lynchburg this season. The Hornets were picked seventh in the ODAC's annual preseason coaches poll, released Wednesday by the conference office.
Defending ODAC champion Washington and Lee led the pack with 139 points in the poll and eight of 12 possible first-place votes. Second-picked Randolph-Macon picked up four top nods and 135 points, while third-chosen Bridgewater received the remaining first pick.
Lynchburg carried 85 points in the poll.
The Hornets played to a 13-15 record last season and took the No. 6 seed into the ODAC's postseason tournament, falling in the quarterfinal round.
Two of the Hornets' returning seniors, Sydney Frink and Stanford, represented Lynchburg on the all-conference teams.
"The freshmen and transfers who came in are stepping up and putting in the work that we need them to," Stanford said.
Lynchburg is set to begin the 2019 season Friday, Aug. 30 at the Route 42 Classic in Harrisonburg, where the Hornets will take on Mary Baldwin and Bryn Mawr on the tournament's first day. All Lynchburg's matches for the weekend will take place at Eastern Mennonite University.
RELATED: 2019 Lynchburg volleyball schedule
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2019 ODAC WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL PRESEASON POLL
1. Washington and Lee University (8) 139 pts.
2. Randolph-Macon College (4) 135 pts.
3. Bridgewater College (1) 116 pts.
4. Virginia Wesleyan University 109 pts.
5. Roanoke College 103 pts.
6. Guilford College 89 pts.
7. University of Lynchburg 85 pts.
8. Shenandoah University 52 pts.
9. Eastern Mennonite University 48 pts.
10. Emory & Henry College 46 pts.
11. Randolph College 44 pts.
12. Ferrum College 30 pts.
13. Hollins University 18 pts.