MEAC volleyball kicks off this weekend

The 2018 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) volleyball season begins this weekend, with 10 of the 12 member institutions competing in 32 non-conference matches.

Three-time defending MEAC Tournament champion Howard will begin the season at home on Friday, squaring off against George Washington in Burr Gymnasium as the only MEAC team not competing in a tournament this weekend. On Saturday, the Bison will head to Fairfax, Va. to take on George Mason, before returning home on Sunday to face Wichita State.

The Bison will also play host to perennial power Stanford, the preseason No. 1 team in the nation, on Monday, Aug. 27.

Maryland Eastern Shore was narrowly selected as the preseason favorite in the Northern Division, edging out Howard by one point, and the Lady Hawks will open things up in Chicago, Ill. this weekend, competing in the Illinois-Chicago Invitational. Eastern Shore boasts the MEAC Preseason Player of the Year in outside hitter Lucia Babic. Babic, who was named Second Team All-MEAC last season, ranked seventh nationally in aces, 19th in aces per set and 117th in points.

She also ranked in the top three in the MEAC in all three categories, and she was second on the team in kills (368), kills per set (2.83), aces (57), and she ranked third on the team in digs (291) and blocks (66). Babic was a big reason why the Hawks led the nation in total aces and aces per set in 2017.

The Lady Hawks will look to replicate last year’s regular-season success, when they won 27 matches and went a perfect 12-0 in conference play.

Bethune-Cookman was named the preseason favorite to win the Southern Division, and the Lady Wildcats boast Preseason All-MEAC honorees in sophomore outside hitter Jordan Jefferson and sophomore middle blocker Faith Landreneaux. B-CU will open the season in Huntsville, Texas this Friday and Saturday, competing in the Sam Houston State Tournament.

Other season openers this weekend include Coppin State (UNC Asheville Invitational), Delaware State (Tropical Smoothie Invitational), Florida A&M (Southern Miss Invite), Morgan State (Delaware Classic), North Carolina A&T State (ISTAP Collegiate Cup), North Carolina Central (ISTAP Collegiate Cup) and South Carolina State (ISTAP Collegiat Cup).

There will be two new head coaches roaming the sidelines in the MEAC this season; Gokhan Yilmaz takes over at Florida A&M after serving two seasons there as associate head coach, and Trevor Callarman will take the reins on an interim basis at Maryland Eastern Shore.

Savannah State’s season will open on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at Charleston Southern. Norfolk State will open its season with a tournament at Georgetown on Aug. 31-Sept. 1 in Washington, D.C.

Conference play will begin on Friday, Sept. 28, with all 12 teams in action. The 2018 MEAC Volleyball Championship will be held Nov. 16-18 at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

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