Volleyball Picked To Finish 3rd In C-USA

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    Aug. 12, 2004

    HOUSTON - Conference USA released its preseason selections for the 2004 volleyball tournament with the University of Houston picked to finish third by league coaches.

    The Cougars bring three junior transfers and all six returning starters from a year-ago to this year's team. The ranking is a sign of head coach Bill Walton's ability to find and recruit top athletes that will be able to make an impact on the Cougar program.

    "We're happy to be ranked third," said Walton. "We have a lot of people coming back and we finished strong last year, now if we can just stay healthy, we could be pretty good."

    In the past three seasons health has been an issue for the Cougars as the team has lost several players either just before the season or during the year, forcing the coaches to use younger, inexperienced athletes.

    Last season's team consisted of six freshmen and one senior, one year later those freshmen are all experienced players that should bring continuity and chemistry to the 2004 squad.

    Picked to finish atop C-USA is 2003 defending champion Louisville, the Cardinals return the team's leading scorer, Lena Ustymenko, who is also a preseason all-conference selection.

    Also finishing ahead of the Cougars in the pre-season ballot is Cincinnati who last year shared the regular-season title with Louisville but was knocked out of the conference tournament by Houston. The Bearcats return five starters this year, including Julie DuPont, the C-USA Preseason Player of the Year.

    Rounding out the top five are Tulane and Marquette, who each boast a preseason all-conference athlete in the Green Wave's Deva Fowler and the Golden Eagles' Heather Watts.

    2004 Conference USA Preseason Poll
    1. Louisville
    2. Cincinnati
    3. Houston
    4. Tulane
    5. Marquette
    6. Memphis
    7. TCU
    8. USF
    9. DePaul
    10. Southern Miss
    11. Saint Louis
    12. UAB
    13. Charlotte
    14. East Carolina



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