Aug. 19, 2004
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INDIANAPOLIS - The Butler University volleyball team has been picked to win its first Horizon League championship since 1997 in preseason voting by the conference's eight head coaches, the League office announced Thursday (Aug. 19).
The Bulldogs received 45 points and four first-place votes to edge defending regular-season champion University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee by one point for the top spot. The Panthers garnered three of the remaining four first-place votes and 44 total points. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
Butler returns 10 letterwinners from last year's team that placed fourth in the Horizon League regular-season standings, including senior middle blocker Areal Bienemy, who earned AVCA All-America honorable mention a year ago, and All-League selection Kali Carter.
Loyola University Chicago was picked third with 37 points and one first-place vote, followed by 2003 Horizon League Tournament champion University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with 30 points and Cleveland State University with 24. Wright State University was voted sixth with 21 points, while the University of Illinois at Chicago (16 points) and Youngstown State University (seven points) rounded out the preseason poll.
In addition to Bienemy and Carter, other returning All-League performers from 2003 are senior outside hitter Jamie Bouyer of Cleveland State, senior outside hitter Karen Fruit of UW-Milwaukee, senior setter Lauren Holbrook of Loyola and senior setter Leslie Kuhn of UW-Green Bay. Also back is last year's Newcomer of the Year, sophomore outside hitter Courtney Ashley of Loyola.
The Horizon League volleyball season will begin Sept. 1 with five non-conference matches: Ball State at Wright State, Loyola at Notre Dame, Western Michigan at UIC, Butler at Purdue and Kent State at Cleveland State. The 2004 conference tournament will be contested Nov. 18-21 at the Beeghly Center on the campus of Youngstown State.
2004 Horizon League Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Butler (4) 452. UW-Milwaukee (3) 443. Loyola (1) 374. UW-Green Bay 305. Cleveland State 246. Wright State 217. UIC 168. Youngstown State 7