Volleyball picked fifth in MVC preseason poll

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    Aug 21, 2013


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    ST. LOUIS-- The Southern Illinois volleyball team has been selected fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll, which was released Wednesday.

    The annual poll of league coaches resulted in 60 points for the Salukis.

    Southern Illinois enters its second season under head coach Justin Ingram after a successful inaugural campaign in 2012 that saw the Salukis finish 21-9 (11-7 MVC, T-4th). It was SIU's first 20-win season since 2002, and the Salukis had the biggest RPI jump in all of NCAA Division I in 2012, jumping 167 spots from the 2011 to the 2012 season.

    The Salukis will be without two of the league's top kill-artists, in losing Laura Thole and Alysia Mayes to graduation, but return senior outside hitter Jessica Whitehead (397 kills, 52 blocks) and sophomore middle blocker Taylor Pippen (236 kills, 111 blocks), who was a member of the league's all-freshman team a season ago. Eleven newcomers will also don Saluki maroon for the first time this season, including two transfers from junior college powerhouse Western Nebraska C.C.

    Fresh off its first-ever NCAA Sweet 16 appearance, Wichita State has been tabbed as the league favorite in the annual coaches’ preseason poll, receiving 98 points and eight first-place votes. The Shockers were a sound favorite over second-place pick UNI (84 points) and third-place Missouri State (83 points, two first-place votes).

    The Valley will look to continue to build off the success of another historic season in 2012 that saw three league teams selected as part of the field of 64 teams to play for the NCAA national title. This marked the fifth time in league history that three volleyball teams were invited to the dance (also in 2011, 2010, 2008 and 2007). The Valley earned three first-round NCAA Tournament wins for the first time in MVC history, while Wichita State advanced to its first-ever Sweet 16 after knocking off Arkansas in second-round action.

    2013 Preseason Poll
    1. Wichita State(8) - 98
    2. UNI - 84
    3. Missouri State(2) - 83
    4. Illinois State - 67
    5. Southern Illinois - 60
    6. Loyola - 44
    7. Evansville - 37
    8. Bradley - 35
    9. Indiana State -26
    10. Drake - 16