League head coaches believe that the heated volleyball rivalry between Arkansas Tech University and Harding University will continue in year one of the new NCAA Division II Great American Conference.
Arkansas Tech is the preseason favorite to win the first GAC volleyball championship. The Golden Suns received seven first-place votes and a total of 63 points in the balloting.
Harding is a close second in the preseason GAC volleyball poll. The Lady Bisons picked up two first-place nods and 58 points in the voting.
If Tech and Harding do finish 1-2 in the GAC standings, it will be a continuation of their battles from their Gulf South Conference days.
The Golden Suns and the Lady Bisons combined to win 12 GSC West Division championships from 1997-2010.
Arkansas Tech took the title in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2008 and 2010. Harding won six straight GSC West crowns from 2002-07 and then added a seventh championship in 2009.
Southeastern Oklahoma State (3rd, 41 points), Henderson State (T-4th, 38 points), Southern Arkansas (T-4th, 38 points), East Central University (6th, 26 points), Ouachita Baptist (7th, 23 points), Southwestern Oklahoma State (8th, 21 points) and Arkansas-Monticello (9th, 16 points) complete the preseason poll.
The nine head volleyball coaches in the GAC voted on the poll. They were not allowed to vote for their own team.
The regular season GAC champion will host the first GAC Volleyball Tournament Nov. 10-12 on its campus. The top eight teams in the final GAC standings will qualify for the postseason tournament.
Arkansas Tech was 31-5 overall and 11-1 in conference matches during the 2010 season. The Golden Suns return 12 letter winners from that team, including all-region performer Laura Farney (photographed, right).
Kristy Bayer will be in her eighth season as the head volleyball coach at Arkansas Tech this fall. Her career mark is 166-81. She owns the Arkansas Tech school record for most career wins by a head volleyball coach.
Click here to learn more about Arkansas Tech volleyball.]]>