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INDIANAPOLIS -- Milwaukee, winner of the regular season Horizon League volleyball title seven of the past eight years, has been pegged as the preseason favorite in the 2011 conference race.  Milwaukee received four first place votes to earn the top spot in a preseason poll of the league’s nine head volleyball coaches.  Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team in the poll.

The Panthers, who received 60 points in the poll, are led by a six-member senior class, including 2010 Horizon League Player of the Year, Kerri Schuh. Mary Beth O’Brien, Morgan Potter, Samantha Trawitzke, Melissa Jansen and Mackenzie Millis make up the rest of the veteran group, which has won two regular season and two league tournament titles in its first three years in Milwaukee.

The next three teams in the poll were tightly packed. Cleveland State, with 52 points, edged Butler and Valparaiso for the second spot. The Vikings, who received two first place votes, return four starters and the libero from last season’s 22-7 team and will be looking to advance to the league title match for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

Butler and Valparaiso tied for the third spot in the poll with 51 points apiece. The defending tournament champion Bulldogs received two first place votes, while Valparaiso picked up one first place vote.

With 33 points, Green Bay was picked to finish fifth, narrowly edging UIC, which had 31 points to finish sixth. Loyola (21), Wright State (17) and Youngstown State (8) rounded out the poll.

The volleyball season for all nine teams starts Friday, Aug. 26. The Horizon League Tournament will feature the top six teams in the league and will run from Nov. 18-20, with all matches played at the venue of the No. 1 seed.

2011 Preseason Poll
Rank   School (1st)                   Points
1.        Milwaukee (4)                 60
2.        Cleveland State (2)        52
3.        Butler (2)                          51
           Valparaiso (1)                 51
5.        Green Bay                       33
6.        UIC                                   31
7.        Loyola                              21
8.        Wright State                    17
9.        Youngstown State           8

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