Cambridge, Mass. - University at Albany, the defending America East Conference regular-season and tournament champion, has been chosen first in the 2011 Preseason Poll, as announced on Thursday, Aug. 18 by the league office. The Great Danes, who claimed their fifth title in the last seven years a year ago, earned three first-place votes and 33 total points, just edging out last season's runner-up UMBC, who also garnered three first-place votes and 31 points.
     Binghamton took home the final first-place nod to earn the third position in the poll with 25 points, followed by Stony Brook in fourth with 23 points. New Hampshire (15 points), Hartford (14 points) and Providence (6 points) rounded out the seven-team poll.
     UAlbany finished 22-9 overall last season with a 10-2 record in conference play, plus advanced to NCAA Tournament play. The Great Danes lost 2010 Player of the Year Teresa Coppiellie, but return the previous season's Player and Setter of the Year Brooke Stanley, who will return to the court after missing all of last season with a knee injury. 
Senior middle blocker and all-conference first-team member Casey Wright is also back after leading the America East with a .344 hitting percentage while averaging 3.30 kills and 1.04 blocks per set. Three-time Defensive Specialist of the Year Laurie Gonzalez, a preseason COBRA All-America selection, averaged a league-high 5.16 digs per set last fall.
     The top four teams during the regular season will compete at the 2011 America East Volleyball Championship on either November 18-19 or 19-20 at the top seed's home court. The winner of the tournament will earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Championship.
     UAlbany will kick off the 2011 season on Friday, Aug. 26 at the Florida State Invitational with matches against Kentucky, Tulsa and the host school.
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2011 America East Conference Preseason Volleyball Poll
1. UAlbany (3), 33 points
2. UMBC (3), 31 points
3. Binghamton (1), 25 points
4. Stony Brook, 23 points
5. New Hampshire, 15 points
6. Hartford, 14 points
7. Providence, 6 points
first-place votes in parentheses