(Editor's note: University of Providence media release)
GREAT FALLS – The University of Providence women's volleyball team received the highest preseason top 25 ranking in school history Wednesday, when the NAIA released its Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll. The Argos, who were picked to win the Frontier Conference last week, were ranked 14th.
"I'm definitely pleased with where we're at in the rankings," head coach Arunas Duda said. "It's a testament to everything that we accomplished the last few years and it's a really nice starting point for us this year. Our goal is to continue to climb and move up but it's a great starting point for us."
The Argos are the only Frontier Conference team in the poll, though Rocky Mountain College was two points away from being the 25th ranked team. Missouri Baptist, last year's NAIA National Champions, were the top-ranked team, followed by Jamestown, who eliminated the Argos at last year's National Tournament. Viterbo, who the Argos defeated in straight sets at the National Tournament, were ranked a spot ahead of the Argos at 13.
"The most flattering piece is we are getting respect at the national level," Duda said. "It's not just that we had a good year last year, it's that we've continued to compete at that level. We know that we're heading in the right direction."
Last year's three All-Americans, Cydney Finberg-Roberts, Sacha Legros and Sadie Lott, are all returning to the team and will be big pieces to the team this season. Finberg-Roberts was not only named a 2nd Team All-American, but was named the Northwest Regional Player of the Year by the AVCA and the Frontier Conference Player of the Year by the conference after breaking the school record for assists (1,116) in a single season.
Legros, an Honorable Mention All-American, was also recognized on the All-Region team. Legros was the heart and soul of the team's defense, leading the nation in digs per set (7.6) and finished seventh in total digs (672), which were both season records for the Argos. Lott also returns after a fabulous debut season, winning the Northwest Regional Player of the Year and the Frontier Conference Freshman of the Year.
"Obviously we have some very key returning players." Duda said. "But we're really excited about this group and all the things that they can accomplish as well."
Since the team returned to campus on Monday, they haven't spoken yet about goals for the season, though Duda did plan on talking about them towards the end of the week with the team.
"Right now we're working on getting back in the gym, getting the touch back on the ball," Duda said. "We have so many newcomers that we're just trying to integrate everybody back into our system."
The Argos will begin their season at the Big Sky Challenge in Butte, Mont. next weekend. They'll take on Northwest (Wash.) at 11:00 a.m. on Aug. 20 before a showdown with #8 Grand View later that night at 5:00 p.m.