Wichita State returns one volleyball starter and didn’t place an athlete on the Missouri Valley Conference preseason team. Those facts did not dissuade coaches from voting the Shockers the preseason favorite on Thursday.
WSU, co-champion last season with Northern Iowa, received 87 points and four first-place votes. Second-place Northern Iowa received 85 points and two first-place votes. Illinois State, in third, got three first-place votes and fifth-place Southern Illinois the other.
The Shockers went 28-7 last season and won the MVC Tournament, but must replace setter Chelsey Feekin, right-side Sam Sanders and middles Ashley Andrade and Elizabeth Field. Feekin and Andrade shared MVC Player of the Year honors in 2013.
Junior attacker Ashlyn Driskill and middle Katie Reilly are back, as are defensive specialists Dani Mostrom, a member of the MVC’s All-Freshman team, and Gaby Urban.
UNI returns outside hitter Eryca Hingtgen and setter Kinsey Caldwell from a team that went 23-8. Only three members of last season’s 13-person All-MVC team are back — Illinois State defensive specialist Emily Orrick, SIU middle Taylor Pippen and Illinois State outside hitter Ashley Rosch.
WSU opens the season on Aug. 29 at Kentucky.
1. Wichita State (4 first-place votes) 87 points
2. Northern Iowa (2) 85
3. Illinois State (3) 78
4. Missouri State 68
5. Southern Illinois (1) 67
6. Loyola 62
7. Bradley 35
8. Evansville 29
9. Indiana State 28
10. Drake 11
OH — Olivia Brand, Missouri State
S — Hannah Kaminsky, Southern Illinois
DS — Emily Orrick, Illinois State
MB — Taylor Pippen, Southern Illinois
OH — Morgan Reardon, Loyola
OH — Ashley Rosch, Illinois State