The Creighton volleyball team has been picked to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference, according to a poll of league coaches announced today. In addition, senior middle blocker Jessica Houts was one of eight selections named to the Preseason All-Valley Team.
Creighton’s preseason prognosis of fourth place ties marks the sixth straight season of a top-five prediction. In the previous 14 seasons, Creighton has improved its preseason ranking eight times, been ranked correctly four times, and dropped from preseason expectations three times. Notably, all six of Creighton’s previous teams under head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth have met or exceeded preseason poll predictions.
After earning first-team all-MVC accolades as a junior, it’s no surprise that Houts earned preseason honors from the league coaches. The Bloomington, Minn., product is on the cusp of setting CU’s career total blocks record and last year became Creighton’s first ever player to be named MVC Defensive Player of the Year.
Wichita State earned 9-of-10 first place votes to earn the preseason favorite role. The defending conference regular-season champion Shockers secured 99 points in the voting.
Defending Valley Tournament champ Missouri State was second with 87 points, including one first-place vote, just ahead of third-place Northern Iowa (83). Trailing fourth-place Creighton (67) was Southern Illinois (49). Rounding out the bottom half of the poll were sixth-place Evansville (47), Illinois State (42), Drake (33), Bradley (24) and Indiana State (19).
Joining Houts on the preseason all-MVC team are Illinois State’s Peggy Riessen, Northern Iowa’s Shannon Aschoff, the Missouri State pair of Cara Hackmann and Calli Norman and Wichita State’s triumvirate of Sarah McGee, Emily Stockman and Mary Elizabeth Hooper. Stockman and Aschoff are both repeat picks from a year ago.
Creighton returns four starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s team that finished 18-9 (15-3 MVC) under the direction of Kirsten Bernthal Booth. The team opens its season with the “Blue-White” exhibition match on Saturday at 6:30 pm. CU then opens the regular-season by playing host to the Bluejay Invitational, Aug. 28-29.
Story courtesy of Creighton athletics
2009 MVC Preseason Poll
1. Wichita State (9) 99
2. Missouri State (1) 87
3. Northern Iowa 83
4. Creighton 67
5. Southern Illinois 49
6. Evansville 47
7. Illinois State 42
8. Drake 33
9. Bradley 24
10. Indiana State 19