The 17-time defending EIVA champions Penn State remains the clear preseason conference favorite but its lead has narrowed.
The Nittany Lions received six of eight first-place votes as it beat second-place George Mason by four points to earn the top spot in the EIVA Preseason Coaches Poll released Thursday.
This is the first time in the recent history of the annual preseason poll that more than one coach voted a team at No. 1 besides Penn State.
Penn State finished last season undefeated in conference play and advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. The Nittany Lions enter the upcoming season having to replace graduated All-American outside attacker Aaron Russell but return several starters, including all-conference setter Taylor Hammond.
George Mason under first-year coach Jay Hosack, a former Penn State assistant coach, have a majority of starters returning for the 2016 season. The Patriots also ended last season reaching the EIVA Tournament championship match.
Along with Penn State and George Mason, Princeton, NJIT and St. Francis round-out the top half of the conference’s preseason poll.
Head coaches from all eight EIVA schools voted in the conference’s preseason poll.
The EIVA season will begin in January and concludes with the conference tournament in April.
EIVA Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Penn State — 62 (6) points
2. George Mason — 58 (2) points
3. Princeton — 38 points
T-4. NJIT — 35 points
T-4. St. Francis — 35 points
6. Harvard — 33 points
7. Sacred Heart — 18 points
8. Charleston — 8 points