UALR Trojan Volleyball Junior Edina Begic Named SBC Preseason Player of Year


UALR Trojans Volleyball Edina Begic

UALR Trojan Volleyball junior outside hitter Edina Begic picked as the SBC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year; UALR Trojan Volleyball team picked second in conference.

NEW ORLEANS – The Sun Belt Conference announced its 2013 Preseason Poll and All-Conference list on Monday with WKU tabbed as the conference favorite and UALR Trojan Volleyball junior outside hitter Edina Begic picked as the SBC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. The Sun Belt Conference announced its entire Volleyball Preseason All-Conference team with selections made in a vote by the league’s 10 head coaches.

Joining Begic on the individual honor list were WKU seniors Ashley Potts and Melanie Stutsman. Potts, a defensive specialist, earned Sun Belt Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honors while Stutsman, the Lady Toppers’ setter, earned distinction as the Preseason Setter of the Year. WKU was a unanimous favorite to win the conference in 2013 earning all 10 first-place votes.

Begic earned the conference’s 2012 Player of the Year award after she led the nation in points per set (5.78) and kills per set (5.12). The Sarajevo, Bosnia native was a three-time SBC Player of the Week winner and also led the league with 0.35 service aces per set. She helped guide UALR to a 9-5 record in league play and a share of the SBC West division title.

Potts returns for her senior season after she earned the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year award. The defensive specialist led the league in digs with 4.52 per set in SBC matches. The Louisville, Ky., native won SBC Defensive Player of the Week four times and was also selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year prior to the 2012 season. Stutsman, from Floyds Knobs, Ind., was a First Team honoree last year after she finished the season ranked 31st in the country in assists and led a WKU offensive that ranked sixth in the nation with a .298 hitting percentage.

The Lady Toppers are the two-time conference champions and return five starters to a team that went 33-4 last season, including a perfect 15-0 mark in Sun Belt play, and earned a trip to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. It was the team’s fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last 10 years. The Lady Toppers also placed redshirt senior outside hitter Paige Wessel and junior middle hitter Heather Boyan on the Sun Belt Preseason All-Conference Team. Wessel earned Sun Belt Conference First Team All-Conference honors in 2012 while Boyan was a Second Team All-Conference selection last season.

Tied for second with 77 points were UALR and Troy. UALR returns four starters to a team that went 13-14 overall and 9-5 in SBC play en route to the West division crown. Senior setter Alexandra Alexander and sophomore outside hitter Blair Winston represented the Troy Trojans on the SBC Preseason All-Conference Team. Both were SBC Second Team All-Conference in 2012, leading the Trojans to a 21-12 (10-5) season and a second-place finish in the East division.

Tied for fourth place with 64 votes apiece were Arkansas State and SBC newcomer Texas State. The Red Wolves went 19-14 last season and advanced to the Sun Belt Conference Championship semifinals. Senior rightside hitter Amari Deardorff represented the Texas State Bobcats on the 2013 Preseason All-Conference team. The Bobcats enter their first year of SBC play following a 14-16 overall season and a 9-9 record in the Western Athletic Conference.

The 2013 SBC volleyball season begins this Friday, Aug. 30 with conference play beginning on Friday, Sept. 27. The top eight teams will advance to the conference tournament held Nov. 21-23 in Troy, Ala., on the campus of Troy University.

2013 SBC Preseason All-Conference Team
Edina Begic (UALR, Junior, OH)
Amari Deardorff (Texas State, Senior, RS)
Alexandra Alexander (Troy, Senior, S)
Blair Winston (Troy, Sophomore, OH)
Heather Boyan (WKU, Junior, MH)
Ashley Potts (WKU, Senior, DS)
Melanie Stutsman (WKU, Senior, S)
Paige Wessel (WKU, RS-Senior, OH)

2013 SBC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Edina Begic (UALR, Junior, OH)

2013 SBC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Ashley Potts (WKU, Senior, DS)

2013 SBC Preseason Setter Player of the Year
Melanie Stutsman (WKU, Senior, S)

2013 SBC Volleyball Preseason Poll (First Place Votes)
1. Western Kentucky (10) – 100 points
2. UALR – 77 points
Troy – 77 points
4. Arkansas State – 64 points
Texas State – 64 points
6. UT Arlington – 47 points
7. Louisiana-Lafayette – 46 points
8. South Alabama – 39 points
9. Georgia State – 24 points
10. Louisiana-Monroe – 13 points

Courtesy Sun Belt Conference