USF Volleyball Picked 7th in NSIC Preseason Poll
The University of Sioux volleyball team was selected to finish seventh in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference as the league office released its 2014 preseason coaches’ poll Tuesday.
USF returns nine letterwinners and five starters from the 2013 team that finished 19-12 overall and 10-10 in NSIC play, a five-match improvement on their 2012 efforts (14-16/5-15 NSIC).
Head coach Joel McCartney’s upstart Cougars were slotted twelfth in the 2013 preseason poll and finished seventh to earn their first-ever bid to the NSIC tournament, where they fell to No. 2 ranked Minnesota Duluth in the opening round.
Seven-time defending NCAA national champion Concordia-St. Paul was predicted by the league’s head coaches to win the NSIC title for the eleventh straight year, collecting 15 of 15 first-place votes on the preseason ballot (coaches cannot vote for their own team.
Minnesota Duluth was picked by the coaches to take second, followed by Southwest Minnesota State, who was tabbed third in the poll. Northern State took fourth, followed by Wayne State in fifth and Augustana took sixth. USF was picked seventh, followed by Minnesota State in eighth while MSU Moorhead, Minnesota Crookston, Winona State, St. Cloud State, Minot State, Upper Iowa, Bemidji State and the University of Mary rounded out the poll.
NSIC Preseason Player of the Year honors went to Northern State junior outside hitter Kelsey Chambers.
The Cougars began preseason practice on Aug. 18, mixing in six newcomers to the squad in preparation for their season-opening match versus Catawba College on Sept. 05 at the Queens University Invitational in Charlotte, N.C.
Among McCartney’s returners are 2013 NSIC 2nd team picks Emily Johnson and Samantha Lovell, while his 2014 signing class consists of six incoming freshmen that hail from Minnesota (two), Colorado (two), Wisconsin and Nebraska.
McCartney enters his fourth season at the helm of the Cougar volleyball program and boasts a career record of 392-210 (.651).
The Cougars begin the 2014 season on Friday, Sept. 5 as they square off against Catawba College at the Queens University Invitational. USF will also take on the University of Montevallo, Armstrong State and Queens University in its first regular season tournament of the year.
USF’s home opener is set for Sept. 12 versus South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in the NSIC Challenge at the Stewart Center. The Cougars’ 20-game NSIC regular season schedule begins Sept. 16 at Southwest Minnesota State.