HPU Volleyball: Livingston, Panthers Tabbed as Big South Favorites

HIGH POINT, N.C. – High Point University volleyball senior Molly Livingston has been selected as the Big South Preseason Player of the Year while the Panthers topped the conference’s preseason poll, the league announced on Wednesday.

Livingston joins Haley Barnes (2016) as the second player in program history to be chosen as the Preseason Player of the Year. Meanwhile, HPU begins the year atop the coaches’ poll for the third straight season and third time overall. Prior to High Point’s three-year run at No. 1 in the preseason poll, the Purple & White has only finished in the top-3 of the poll twice in 16 seasons.

Sophomore Abby Bottomley joins Livingston on the Big South Preseason All-Conference Team after winning Freshman of the Year honors last year. Bottomley finished runner-up in the voting for the Preseason Player of the Year mark giving HPU the top-2 finishers for the first time in program history and just the third time overall since the Big South started releasing preseason all-league volleyball teams.

In the poll, the Panthers collected eight of the 10 first-place votes with Radford (No. 2) and Campbell (No. 3) grabbing one apiece. From there, UNC Asheville, Winthrop and Presbyterian make up the ever-important top-6 that qualifies for the conference championship.

Newcomer USC Upstate comes in seventh while Charleston Southern, Hampton and Gardner-Webb round out the poll.

On the all-conference team, High Point is one of three teams with multiple selections as Radford and Campbell each put two on the squad while UNC Asheville’s Cara Guthrie is the seventh.

Molly Livingston | Sr. | MB | 6-2 | Sun Prairie, Wis.
A two-time All-Big South First Team selection following a second team selection as a freshman … Selected as the 2015 Big South Freshman of the Year … With a postseason selection would become the first Panther and 11th student-athlete in Big South volleyball history to make four all-conference teams … Needs 160 kills to become the 12th player in HPU’s Division I era with 1,000 career kills … Enters the season carrying the fourth-best career attack percentage in Big South history (.346) … Became the first Panther to be selected to the AVCA All-Southeast Region Team in 2017.

Abby Bottomley | So. | L | 5-6 | Virginia Beach, Va.

Returns after winning the 2017 Big South Freshman of the Year award … Led the Big South and ranked among the top freshmen in the nation with 5.21 digs per set last fall … Racked up 594 digs, which were the most by a freshman in HPU history and fifth-most in a single-season overall in the program’s record books … Became the first Panther to make the All-Big South First Team as a freshman … Represents the only underclassman on the 2018 Preseason All-Big South Team.

2018 Preseason All-Big South Team

Student-Athlete         Cl.     Pos.    School
Molly Livingston*       Sr.     MB      High Point
Abby Bottomley          So.     L       High Point
Allena Heath            Jr.     OH      Campbell
Cara Guthrie            Sr.     OH      UNC Asheville
Haley Kleespies         Sr.     S       Radford
Jessica Stocking        Sr.     OH      Campbell
Stephanie Neast         Jr.     RS      Radford

* Preseason Player of the Year

2018 Big South Preseason Volleyball Poll
Rk. Team (1st-Place Votes) Points
1. High Point (8) 96
2. Radford (1) 88
3. Campbell (1) 82
4. UNC Asheville 65
5. Winthrop 64
6. Presbyterian 41
7. USC Upstate 37
8. Charleston Southern 29
9. Hampton 27
10. Gardner-Webb 21