(HALIFAX, N.S.) The seven-time defending AUS champions, the Dalhousie Tigers, are the favourites to repeat as winners of the AUS women's volleyball conference according to the head coaches.
The results of the inaugural coaches' poll were released Wednesday, ahead of the regular season which kicks off Friday night with a pair of matches.
This marks the first year for the AUS women's volleyball pre-season coaches' poll, which was voted on by the league's six head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams
The Tigers, who finished fourth at the 2019 U SPORTS championship, received all five first-place votes from the conference head coaches and a total of 25 points. Dalhousie finished the regular season in first place last season with 18 wins and two losses. The Tigers hosted the 2019 Atlantic conference championship and swept Saint Mary's 3-0 in semi-final play before defeating UNB by a score of 3-1 in the championship match.
Dalhousie's first-place vote went to the Acadia Axewomen, who finished second in the inaugural coaches' poll with 18 points. The Axewomen wrapped up the 2018-19 season in second place with a record of 14-6 for 28 points. In their semi-final match-up with the third place UNB Reds, they were upset by a score of 3-0.
The Saint Mary's Huskies round out the top three vote-getters in the pre-season poll with 17 points. The Huskies finished the 2018-19 campaign in fourth place with a record of 11-9 for 22 points, but lost their semi-final match-up with the Tigers in straight sets. The Huskies are the most recent team other than Dalhousie to claim the AUS banner, a feat they last accomplished in 2011-12.
This season, the AUS women's volleyball conference will move to a playoff series model featuring the top four teams in the regular season standings.
The fourth-place team will face the first-place team, while the third-place team faces off against the second-place team in two best-of-three semi-final match series. All matches of these semifinals will be played at the home of the highest seed in the series Feb. 21-23.
The winners of the semi-finals will then face one another in a best-of-three championship final series to be played at the home of the top remaining seed. This series will take place from Feb. 28 to March 1.
The AUS champion will advance to this year's U SPORTS championship which will be hosted March 13-15 by the University of Calgary.
2019 AUS WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL PRE-SEASON COACHES POLL
(First-place votes in parentheses):
1. Dalhousie (5), 25 pts.
2. Acadia (1), 18 pts.
3. Saint Mary's, 17 pts.
4. UNB, 14 pts.
5. Moncton, 11 pts.
6. Memorial, 5 pts.
NOTE: Coaches ranked all opponents 1-5. First-place votes worth 5 pts., second-place worth 4 pts. etc.
The 2019-20 season opens Friday night with the Huskies hosting the Tigers in a 7 p.m. start; while the UNB Reds will travel to Moncton to face the Aigles Bleues, also at 7 p.m.
All games this season will be once again available live on AUStv at www.AUStv.ca.
For a complete look at the 2019 AUS women's volleyball schedule, click here.