WISE, Va. - A new era begins for The University of Virginia's College at Wise women's volleyball team on Thursday as the program plays its first match as a member of the newly formed Mountain East Conference (MEC). The newest NCAA Division II conference, the MEC is comprised of 12 schools located in Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Cavaliers join the league in the athletic department's second year of a three-year transitional process in effort to become full NCAA Division II members. During the transitional process, no UVa-Wise athletic team will be eligible to participate in postseason competition beyond the MEC Conference Tournament.
The move to the MEC comes after a 7-25 campaign that included a 4-10 mark in Mid-South play. In the inaugural MEC poll, UVa-Wise was picked to finish 12th with Wheeling Jesuit being selected as the favorite to win the crown by the league's coaches.
"We are excited about the first Mountain East Conference season. Given our young roster and being a newcomer to the group, the selection is not surprising. We have grown from our experience in the competitive Mid-South Conference and look forward to putting an enthusiastic and fundamentally sound team on the floor. The selection along with the excitement surrounding NCAA Division II competition is excellent motivation for our team." Said Head Coach Kristen Salyer.
Salyer will have to rely on one of the youngest squads in the history of the program. The roster is comprised of five juniors, one sophomore, and eight freshmen. Junior Veronica Sanchez returns as the most experienced player on the team. A year ago, Sanchez finished the season with 548 assists. Overall, the Richmond, Va. native has handed out 1,322 assists in her first two seasons. Fellow junior, Brittni Altmann has also received extensive playing time in her first two seasons in a Cavalier uniform. As a sophomore, Altmann collected 261 digs, including 11 matches with more than 10 digs.
The Cavs will open the season on September 5 when the team travels to take on Brevard. The first home match of the season will be on September 17 when Bluefield State visits the David J. Prior Convocation Center. UVa-Wise will play its first ever MEC contest on Sept. 27 when Fairmont State travels to Wise. One day later, the athletic department will be celebrating women in athletics with a reception at 11 am. The event will honor previous female student-athletes and coaches of female sports directly prior to the volleyball team's noon match against Shepherd University.