BENNINGTON -- Southern Vermont College squad was picked to finish third when the 2013 New England Collegiate Conference men’s volleyball preseason coaches poll was released Tuesday.
The preseason poll resembled to the final standings of a year ago -- the Mountaineers find themselves right where they left off -- with the only exception being that Endicott College and Elms College have been selected in a tie for first, despite Endicott (4) gaining more first-place votes than the Blazers (3).
The Gulls finished the 2012 campaign at the top of the standings; however Elms, which finished second, ultimately took home the conference tournament championship trophy.
Southern Vermont, which graduated two players -- NECC Defensive Player of the Year Nick Haggerty and Connor Murray -- has nine returners.
Among the players coming back to play for third-year head coach Josh Stokes are junior outside hitter Anthony Barahona who finished the 2012 season fourth in the NECC with 243 kills and 2012 NECC Rookie of the Year Joey Dighton, who recorded a .306 hitting percentage. Dighton also had 62 blocks putting him second on the SVC all-time single-season block list.
Also making their way back to Stokes’ crew are sophomore setter Herson Canta, fourth in the NECC in 2012 with 5.21 assists per set, and sophomore libero/defensive specialist Florentino Escovedo who is expected to fill in for the departed Haggerty.
Three new players join the Mountaineers, two hailing from Stokes’ native California and the third from nearby Massachusetts.
"I’m glad to see we’re still ranked in the top four of the conference," said Stokes. "However, the ultimate goal is still the championship."
The Mountaineers finished 2012 with a 12-19 overall record after losing to Elms 3-1 in the NECC semifinals. That total was seven more wins than any team in program history.
Defense will likely remain an important aspect of the SVC repertoire -- the Mountaineers finished 2012 first in Division III with 13.08 digs per game.
SVC begins the season this weekend with a tri-match on Saturday at Emerson College. The Mountaineers begin their NECC schedule Feb. 9 when they visit Lesley University for a 2 p.m. match.
Zemianek road race returns May 5
BENNINGTON -- The 35th annual Steve Zemianek Road Race will take place on May 5 at the Park-McCullough House in North Bennington.
There are three different runs, a 3.8-mile course, a 10K course and a half-mile fun run for children.
The entry fee is $15 to pre-register and $3 for the fun run. A family of four can register at a reduced rate of $40.
Awards will be given to the top male and female runner and the top three in each age group.
For more information, call Dave at 802-688-7807.
Monument Soccer signups
BENNINGTON -- The Monument Soccer Club has sign-ups next week at the Bennington Sports Center. Monument is a soccer club that participates in the Capital District Youth Soccer League in the spring and runs from April-June with a 10-game season.
Any interested boy or girl from U8-U18 can sign up. More information can be found online at www.voltagesportsclub.com under the Bennington Sports Center’s news section where people can download a registration packet. For more informaion, call the main office of the Sports Center at 802-681-7151.