Coming off its seventh 20-win season in the past eight years, the West Liberty University women's basketball team edged out Glenville State on Monday for the top spot in the inaugural Mountain East Conference preseason coaches' poll.
Coach Lynn Ullom's Lady Hilltoppers received five first-place votes and 133 points in voting by the league coaches to squeeze past the Pioneers, who also received five first-place votes and finished with 132 points. Fairmont State wasn't far behind in third with two first-place votes and 125 points.
Charleston was fourth in the balloting with 100 points, followed by Shepherd (88), West Virginia State (74), Concord (62) and West Virginia Wesleyan (61). Rounding out the poll were Urbana (48), Wheeling Jesuit (45), Notre Dame, Ohio (44) and UVA-Wise (24).
The MEC Preseason Coaches' Poll was revealed during the league's Basketball Media Day festivities at the Bridgeport Convention Center.
The winningest coach in West Virginia women's basketball history (452-207, .686), Ullom welcomes back a solid nucleus from last year's 21-8 squad which was the regular-season season runner-up in the West Virginia Conference and just missed an NCAA Division II playoff berth.
His Hilltoppers have popped up on the national radar during the preseason, being ranked No. 21 in the Division II Women's Bulletin's Preseason Top 25 and just missing a spot in the USA Today's NCAA Division II Coaches' Preseason Top 25 with 67 votes.
Glenville also returns several starters from last year's 27-4 WVIAC champions and NCAA Division II regional semifinalists but must replace Atlantic Region Coach of the Year Bunky Harkleroad, who accepted an NCAA Division I head coach job at Sacramento State last month. Charles Marshall, Harkleroad's assistant, takes over the Pioneer reins.
Fairmont is also coming off an NCAA Division II Tournament bid after winning the final WVIAC Tournament last year. Coach Steve McDonald's Falcons finished with a 23-10 record.
The West Liberty women tip off their 2013-14 season on the road Friday when the Hilltoppers open the Glenville State Tipoff Classic with a 5 p.m. game against Kutztown (Pa.).