The SEC announced its volleyball preseason coaches' poll and preseason all-conference team this week. The South Carolina Gamecocks were tabbed seventh in the conference, and senior Mikayla Robinson is one of nine women to make the All-SEC list heading into the abbreviated fall schedule.
Robinson is coming off a career year in 2019, culminating in her first All-Southeast Region Team honor from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and her second year in a row making the postseason All-SEC team. The senior from West Dundee, Ill. has played in every single match for the Gamecocks through her first three seasons and recorded personal bests for kills per set, hitting percentage and blocks last season.
Entering year four, Robinson is just 75 blocks shy of the program's record for total blocks in a career and is already in the program's top 10 for kills and points scored in the rally-scoring era (since 2001). Before its cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Robinson had also earned a spot on the U.S. Women's Volleyball Collegiate National Team's gold roster, which was scheduled to train and compete side-by-side with the U.S. Women's National Team ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
In the coaches' poll, South Carolina is tied with Tennessee for seventh place. The 2019 co-champions, Kentucky and Florida, top the poll.
The Gamecocks aim to impress again after back-to-back 20-win seasons and trips to the second round of the NCAA tournament in each of head coach Tom Mendoza's first two seasons at the helm. The team will have a good deal of seniority to replace heading into the 2020-21 campaign, losing three seniors who started in over 100 matches in their time at Carolina (Claire Edwards, Courtney Koehler and Mikayla Shields) as well as major two-year contributors Addie Bryant and Brittany McLean and four-year letterwinner Alicia Starr.
To reload the roster, the coaching staff welcomed eight newcomers to the team, six true freshmen and two graduate transfers. They join nine returning letterwinners and 2019 starters Robinson and Jess Vastine going into the eight-game fall conference-only schedule, which begins Oct. 17 with a two-game road series at Georgia.