SAINT LEO, Fla. - You might call it icing on the cake of the Lions’ 2009 season as the final AVCA Top 25 poll was released and the Saint Leo volleyball team finished their 30-4 campaign ranked 10th in the nation, waiting until the final poll of the year to break into the Top-10.
Although the Lions’ season ended last month in the South Region Championship, Saint Leo found themselves breaking into the Top 25 after a successful weekend in late-September where they defeated Lynn and Barry and suddenly found themselves 23rd.
The week that followed was one of the most memorable in Saint Leo Volleyball history as the Lions rocketed up the charts after a 3-1 win at No. 25 Eckerd and then a 3-0 sweep over 4th-ranked Tampa. After the dust had settled, the Lions jumped to 16th nationally.
After the seven-spot jump the Lions would slowly eek their way up the charts for the remainder of the season. Improving to 14th ten days later, the Lions saw a one-spot jump to 13th at the end of October.
Before their SSC showdown with Tampa, the Lions jumped to 12th in the nation and stayed there throughout the remainder of the regular season and the NCAA South Region Tournament.
After their run through the NCAA South Region, where the Lions swept North Alabama and pulled out a five-set thriller against West Florida before falling to Tampa, voters felt that Saint Leo’s 30-4 season and their first-ever Sunshine State Conference Championship was worthy of a Top 10 finish.
This marks the highest finish ever for Saint Leo Volleyball and the highest final ranking in the department, matching the finish of the 2009 Deep South Conference Champion lacrosse team.
Going wire-to-wire was No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul, winning its third consecutive national championship defeating No. 3 West Texas A&M in four sets. Remaining at No. 2 despite losing in the semifinals to Concordia is Cal State University San Bernardino. SSC rival Tampa, who the Lions shared the conference title with, finished in the fourth spot. Central Missouri dropped one spot to No. 5.
This marks the final poll of the 2009 season. The AVCA will release their next Top 25 poll during the 2010 preseason in August.