Point Park receives votes in NAIA Volleyball Preseason Top 25 Poll
Aug. 16, 2011
PITTSBURGH -- Point Park University is in the 'others receiving votes' section of the Tachikara-NAIA Volleyball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll released by the national office on Tuesday. The Pioneers, who return seven of the top 10 players from last year's 29-10 team, have been rated by NAIA coaches as the 35th best team in the country.
In addition, Point Park was rated as the top team in the American Mideast Conference preseason rankings that were released Monday. Point Park had a total of 18 votes in Tuesday's national poll.
Point Park returns its entire defensive unit from last year as well as its top offensive threat from the last two seasons -- junior outside hitter Lindsey Oberacker, an AVCA-NAIA All-Region selection from Erie., Pa. and McDowell High School.
Key defensive returners who have helped the Pioneers field one of the best back lines in the AMC the last two years are a trio of juniors -- Amanda Ardinger (Moon Twp., Pa.), Alyssa Hall (Moon Twp., Pa.) and Margaret Gillooly (Cranberry Twp., Pa.).
The Pioneers have added several talented newcomers, and chief among those who will make an immediate impact is Brittany Lhota, a 6-2 middle/right side from Latrobe, Pa., and a transfer from Pitt. In all, Point Park added five transfers and five freshmen to the program this year.
Point Park volleyball has had a successful run in recent years as it has made the AMC playoffs four of the last five seasons and has won 25 or more matches three of the last four years. The Pioneers are 61-18 the last two years, which includes 32-8 in 2009 and 29-10 last season.
The Pioneers are led by seventh-year head coach Mike Bruno, the all-time leader in victories at Point Park. The longest tenured coach in the history of the school's volleyball program, Bruno is 135-92 for an average of 22.5 wins per year at Point Park. In 11 years as a head coach, which includes five at Waynesburg, Bruno is 249-150 (.624).
Among last year's AMC playoff teams, Point Park is the only one still in the conference this year. The AMC volleyball membership has gone from 11 schools in 2010 to five this year. Departed from the league are traditional conference contenders Mt. Vernon Nazarene, Malone, Walsh and Cedarville as well as Notre Dame (OH) and Ursuline. All have moved to NCAA DII with the exception of MVNU, which joined the NAIA Mid-Continent Conference.
Point Park opened its preseason training on Sunday, and it will open the regular season Aug. 26-27 at the Aces in August Tournament hosted by the University of Rio Grande.