Preseason poll ranks volleyball third; rival Broncos take top spot
The Mid-American Conference released its annual volleyball preseason poll Tuesday and head coach Erik Olson was surprised with the results.
Central Michigan was ranked third in the MAC West, behind Ball State and rival Western Michigan, who was atop the standings.
“My prediction would’ve probably been second,” Olson said. “I expected Western (Michigan) to get chosen first, but I expected us to get second quite honestly, so I’m a little surprised.”
The Broncos received 10 first place votes, putting them ahead of the Cardinals and Chippewas who each received one. Northern Illinois, the defending regular-season champion was picked to finish fourth in front of Eastern Michigan and Toledo.
“I think Western has shown they can get it done in the regular season,” Olson said. “With Northern Illinois’ losses, I expected (WMU) to get first.”
The Huskies were dealt a tough blow this offseason when junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski transferred to Michigan State.
Wicinski is the only player in MAC history to win Player of the Year honors as a freshman, along with many other honors in her two years at NIU.
“Wicinski was a two-time (MAC) Player of the Year and she was a primary passer,” Olson said. “They return a libero, who was very good, but everything else is a question mark.”
Despite the loss of Wicinski for the Huskies, Olson still believes that the MAC is a strong volleyball conference, which explains why he and his team don’t seem to mind the lower than expected ranking.
“Everyone is 0-0 right now,” sophomore outside hitter Kaitlyn McIntyre said, who was named to the preseason All-MAC West team. “Our conference is as competitive as ever.”
The Chippewas would know how little importance rankings hold after peaking at the MAC Tournament last season as the No. 6 seed to win the championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
“We didn’t even talk about the preseason ranking today; that’s how little it means,” Olson said. “I think anyone in the West can win the regular season… that’s how competitive our conference is.”
Along with getting the nod in the West division, WMU was also picked to win the MAC Tournament.
The Bobcats were picked to win the East, followed in order by Miami, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State and Akron.
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