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The Tornado earned one first place vote in the poll while Mount Olive received the remaining five available. With 17 points by virtue of the coaches' rankings, King was tabbed to finish third in the six-team league, behind Lees-McRae (19 points) and the conference favorite Mount Olive Trojans (25). Limestone (14), Pfeiffer (10) and Barton (5) round out the final three spots in the league rankings.
King enters its first season as a full member of Conference Carolinas after making a statement in the league championship tournament last year. The Tornado made a late-season surge to advance to the Conference Carolinas championship game before succumbing to Mount Olive in a tough, straight set loss. Their message was sent that they are a program on the rise, but they will have to support that statement with many new faces and multiple position changes amongst its returning personnel.
The Tornado finished 2011 with an 11-9 overall record and a 5-3 Conference Carolinas mark in Conference Coach of the Year Ryan Booher's first full season as the head man. The team was host to the Conference Carolinas Player and Setter of the Year in graduate Joel Salva, as well as the Libero of the Year (Morris Cephas), both players who will be replaced this season. All-Conference first teamer James Friddle will return as he chases down the program's all-time kills record and the team will unveil some newly added size in freshman outside hitters Mason Crasner and Mathew Harper who measure in at 6-foot, 8-inches.
Mount Olive posted a 20-7 overall record and a 7-1 mark in conference play in 2011 en route to winning the conference championship. The Trojans received votes in the year-end Asics/Volleyball Magazine Top 10 Poll, finishing among the top 13 in the nation overall. The national ranking was the first ever in Trojan men's volleyball history.
Lees-McRae finished last season tied for second in the conference standings with a 5-3 mark against league opponents. The Bobcats posted a 16-10 overall record last season, registering a trio of victories over NCAA Division I opponents while pushing No. 11 Penn State University to five sets. They return 11 letter-winners from last year's team.
King opens their season on Jan. 13 at the Mount Olive College Invitational (Mount Olive, N.C.) with a doubleheader against Limestone College (5:00 p.m.) and Barton College (7:00 p.m.). The Tornado's first home game will be held on Feb. 23 against conference foe Lees-McRae.
Conference Carolinas Men's Volleyball Preseason Poll (First Place Votes)
1. Mount Olive (5) 25
2. Lees-McRae 19
3. King (1) 17
4. Limestone 14
5. Pfeiffer 10
6. Barton 5