SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo University volleyball team was once again selected fourth in the 2009 Sunshine State Conference Preseason Poll; it was announced Wednesday by the SSC.  Tampa has been chosen as the preseason favorite to win the 2009 Sunshine State Conference volleyball title.

Winners of the past five league titles, UT tallied 123 points and 12 first-place votes in a preseason poll conducted among the league's volleyball coaches and sports information directors. Florida Southern, which placed second a year ago and shared the SSC crown with the Spartans in 2006, was predicted to finish second. The Moccasins earned 112 points and three first-place nods.

Nova Southeastern, winners of the 2008 South Region tournament, was tabbed third, garnering 94 points and a first-place vote. The Lions were right on the Sharks' heels, tallying 91 points with two first-place votes.

Only six points separated fifth-place Lynn and sixth-place Eckerd in the poll. The Fighting Knights accumulated 68 points, while the Tritons picked up 62.

Barry, Florida Tech and Rollins rounded out the poll. Barry was tabbed seventh with 44 points. Florida Tech received 37 points to assume the eighth slot, and Rollins picked up 17 points.

The Lions finished a 40-match 2008 campaign with a 29-11 record, going 8-8 in conference for a fifth place finish. The 29 victories once again smashed the previous school record of 24 set during the previous season. Head coach Sam Cibrone, who eclipsed the 100-victory plateau at the end of 2008, enters his sixth season as the Lions’ leader and returns nearly every starter to the squad.

Saint Leo will open its 2009 season in Golden, Colo., as they participate in the Holiday Inn/Oredigger Invitational hosted by the Colorado School of Mines.  The Lions open their campaign against Adams State College and Mesa State College on Friday, August 28th.

Rank - School, Points (1st Place Votes)

1 - Tampa, 123 (12)
2 - Florida Southern, 112 (3)
3 - Nova Southeastern, 94 (1)
4 - Saint Leo, 91 (2)
5 - Lynn, 68
6 - Eckerd, 62
7 - Barry, 44
8 - Florida Tech, 37
9 - Rollins, 17