Senior outside hitter Kelley Wernert was one of 11 student-athletes named to the 2007 Conference USA Preseason Volleyball Team as announced by the league office Wednesday. The Hoffman Estates, Ill. native is the first East Carolina player to garner preseason honors in the Pirates' six seasons in C-USA.
The league's head coaches also picked ECU to finish ninth in the preseason poll after the Pirates finished the 2006 season in sixth place.
Wernert was also named to last year's All-Conference USA first team after leading ECU and ranking sixth in the conference with 4.39 kills per game. The senior will be expected to guide the five starters and eight letterwinners that return from a squad that finished 19-12 overall and a program-best 10-6 in conference play.
Headlining the 12-team league for the second-consecutive year is preseason favorite Marshall, followed by Tulane and UAB. The Thundering Herd, which won the 2005 C-USA regular season and tournament titles, concluded the 2006 campaign with an overall record of 20-12 and the second-best conference mark of 12-4. Marshall will also serve as host of the 2007 C-USA Volleyball Championship Nov. 15-18 in Huntington, W. Va.
ECU will open the season Aug. 24 when it takes on ACC opponent Duke in the first match of the Duke Invitational at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham. The Pirates will also battle Purdue and Winthrop to close out the tournament.