Indianapolis – Defending regular season and tournament champion Cleveland State notched the top spot in the preseason poll.While Cleveland State and Valparaiso shared the same amount of first place votes (4), Cleveland State clips Valparaiso in total points with a 60-57 margin.
Returning for the Vikings is the 2015 Horizon League Tournament MVP, Alexis Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks, a junior, led the Horizon League last year with a 1.16 block percentage while having the third-best hitting percentage (.327) in the conference. Cleveland State also brings back senior Grace Kauth who is a two-time All-League Team award honoree. Kauth averaged 3.57 kills per set in addition to posting 1,413 assists last year ranking her third all-time on the school’s single-season record list.
Valparaiso welcomes back junior All-Horizon League Team member Allison Ketcham. While recording 157 kills and 231 digs in Horizon League play, Ketcham also earned a spot on the Academic All-League Team for her work in the classroom. In addition, senior Emily Campbell returns to the offensive attack for the Crusaders. As a junior, Campbell recorded 429 kills with a 4.25 per set average ranking her second in the Horizon League earning her All-League honors.
Third in the preseason poll belonged to Oakland who is returning two of its four All-League Team members from last season. Junior middle hitter Sammy Condon ranked inside the top-10 in blocks and hitting percentage during League play last year while earning All-League honors for the second year in-a-row. Tied for the most service aces in school history with 126, Melissa Deatsch is also back for her senior year.
Freshman of the Year Haley Libs returns as Northern Kentucky placed fourth in the preseason standings. As a member of the All-League Team as well, Libs had 404 kills and 195 digs on the year in the Norse’s first season in the Horizon League.
The Wisconsin schools, Green Bay and Milwaukee, tied for fifth in the rankings with each school receiving 33 votes apiece.
Green Bay brings back All-League middle blocker Lydia DeWeese. The junior ranked second in the conference last season in both hitting percentage (.333) and blocks per set (1.13).
Milwaukee returns senior Myanna Ruiz who recorded 579 digs last year which ranked second-most in program history. Ruiz’s 4.99 digs per set average was also second-most in the Horizon League earning her a place on the Horizon League All-League Team.
UIC was seventh in the preseason poll after losing Horizon League Player of the Year Stephanee Yancy to graduation. The Flames bring back Alyssa Ehrhardt who appeared in 66 sets last year and led the team with six double-doubles.
Wright State was eighth in the poll as outside hitter Katie Klusman returns for her junior season. Klusman had 430 kills last season for a 3.98 average while also being named to the 2015 Fall Horizon League All-Academic Team.
Youngstown State rounded out the preseason poll for the League. The Penguins return senior setter Val Jeffery who played in all 114 sets and recorded 1,114 assists which is the most by any Penguin since 2006.
The volleyball season opens on Friday, August 26 with conference play starting on Friday, September 23.