The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team received nine of 11 first-place votes and is the league coaches' preseason pick to win the Southern Conference, the SoCon announced Thursday. UTC forward Whitney Hood and guard Kayla Christopher made the coaches' all-conference team. The preseason media poll will be released today. UTC had won 11 straight league titles heading into last season, but the Lady Mocs finished third behind champion Appalachian State and Samford. One reason the coaches might have picked UTC over the Mountaineers is that center Ashlen Dewart, one of ASU's best players the past two seasons, has transferred to UTC. She won't play this season, but another big post transfer, Faith Dupree from Tennessee, will be eligible in December. Davidson's Sophia Alexandravicius was the coaches' pick for player of the year.
• Southern Conference wrestling coaches have named UTC the team to beat in the 2011-12 season. Four of the league's seven coaches gave UTC the nod over second-place Appalachian State. The Citadel was picked third, newcomers Gardner-Webb and Campbell fourth and fifth, VMI sixth and Davidson seventh. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville will join league competition for the 2012-13 season after completing its final probationary year in transitioning from the NCAA's Division II ranks to Division I. The Mocs had four wrestlers named to the preseason all-conference team: Bucky Johnson (125), Dean Pavlou (149), Dan Waddell (157) and Niko Brown (197). UTC opens its season Nov. 4 at home against Old Dominion and will host the Southern Scuffle the week of New Year's Day as well as the conference tournament on March 3.
• GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Former Baylor School and University of Arkansas runner James Strang finished fourth in the men's 10,000-meter run Thursday in the 1011 Pan American Games. Strang finished in 29 minutes, 51.93 seconds compared to fifth-place American Ryan Patrick Vail in 29:52.04. Brazil had the first- and third-place finishers, Marilson Santos and Giovani Dos Santos in 29:00.r4 and 29:51.71, with Mexico's Juan Carlos Romero second in 29:41.
• Kelly Kirby had team highs of 10 kills and 18 assists as Furman defeated UTC 25-23, 25-12, 25-12 in Southern Conference volleyball Thursday night at Maclellan Gymnasium. Natalie Braun added 16 assists and 15 digs with six kills for the Paladins (16-8, 9-2). Jennifer Kuroski led UTC (5-21, 3-8) with nine kills, while Bridget Camacho had 21 assists and Melissa Green made 19 digs. The Lady Mocs led 20-18 in the first set on a Kuroski kill, but Kirby had three kills from Braun assists as Furman went up 24-22, and Caroline Adams closed it out after a Christina Teter kill for UTC. The Paladins went from 3-3 to 10-3 on Kirby serves in the second set.
• Tennessee Wesleyan College improved its season volleyball record to 5-20 with a 25-13, 25-22, 25-18 win Thursday at Tennessee Temple. It was senior night for Temple (11-19), whose sole senior Kaye Johnson had 12 digs to go with 15 and 13 for Annie London and P.J. Sexton.
• Sewanee is hosting a "Dig for the Cure" volleyball match at 7 CDT tonight against Piedmont after winning 25-12, 25-5, 19-25, 25-16 on Wednesday at Fisk. Blair Johnson and Kayla Sewell had 11 kills apiece and Sewell made 18 digs and was in on seven blocks for the Tigers (7-20), who got four aces from Johnson and 21 assists from Rachel Schuman.
• Assistant football coach Russ Ehrenfeld will be the special guest for the UTC Mocs Club's "Breakfast With the Coach" at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Wally's Restaurant on McCallie Avenue. The public is invited to attend and order from the menu.