The 2013-14 Great Midwest Athletic Conference Volleyball season will be the G-MAC's first season as an active NCAA Division II conference, and the field of competitive teams has expanded from its inaugural season in 2012.
With the addition of four new volleyball programs to the conference schedule in 2013-14, the conference schedule will be much tougher for defending champion Cedarville University to work through in hopes of repeating as Conference champions.
The Lady Jackets have been named the preseason favorites by the coaches, finishing with seven of the eight first-place votes, ahead of 2012-13 G-MAC runner-up, Trevecca Nazarene University. Cedarville topped TNU twice in the regular-season, and a third time in the conference tournament finals. CU did suffer one loss in 2012 against a 2013 conference opponent, a 3-0 loss to Alderson Broaddus.
Newcomers, Alderson Broaddus University, Kentucky Wesleyan College, and Davis and Elkins College rank in the middle of the preseason poll at #3, #4, and #5 respectively. Ursuline College (#6), Ohio Valley University (#7), and Central State University (#8) wrap up the rankings.
G-MAC PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
|1.||Cedarville University (7 First Place votes)||32-6||11-1|
|2.||Trevecca Nazarene University (1 First Place vote)||23-14||5-3|
|3.||Alderson Broaddus University||18-17||3-0|
|4.||Kentucky Wesleyan College||11-23||1-2|
|5.||Davis & Elkins College||5-21||0-2|
|7.||Ohio Valley University||6-25||1-2|
|8.||Central State University||0-16||0-7|
NOTES FROM CAMPUS
Alderson Broaddus University: AB returns a talented core to its 2013 team including All-WVIAC selections in senior Jillian Brown and sophomore Caitlin Cain. Brown recorded 41.3 digs per set and tallied 34 serving aces last season, while Cain had a team-high 45 serving aces, 293 kills, 244 digs and 50 blocks.
Senior Ashley MacDonald and junior Kayla Peterson are also expected to make an impact as starters for the Battlers. Peterson and MacDonald combined to play in 69 total matches last season. Peterson led AB with 945 assists (7.81 per set) and MacDonald finished second on the team with 296 kills. The blue and gold added several exceptional newcomers for the 2013 season, including some that are expected to contribute immediately to the squad's success.
Freshmen Jayla McCrary and Megan Christmann will battle for spots in the starting lineup immediately, but the freshman class will provide competition for all starters and valuable depth off the bench. The Battlers inked nine freshmen who will enroll in the fall.
Cedarville University: The G-MAC defending champion Lady Jackets will face a ramped up volleyball schedule in 2013. The grid is top heavy in road matches, but Cedarville will spend a lot of time in the Callan Athletic Center coming down the stretch.
The Lady Jackets, who were 32-6 and 8-0 G-MAC last fall, will have 21 of their first 22 matches away from home to start the campaign including the opening 14. The biggest non-conference name coming to the Callan Athletic Center is Indianapolis – ranked #9 in the AVCA Division II Preseason Poll.
Cedarville, which received votes in the AVCA NCAA II Preseason Poll, will be led by five 2012 G-MAC First Team performers. Junior Hannah Wagner produced a team-high 390 kills while senior Stephanie Rogers was a close second with 361 kills and a team-best 98 total blocks.
Sophomore Tori Thompson added a G-MAC Freshman of the Year award to her All-Conference First Team honors. Junior Amanda Bell drilled 270 kills and classmate Maddie Anderson dished out 839 assists in a 6-2 offensive system. Anderson also added 83 service aces for a career total of 173 – fourth-best all-time at Cedarville.
Central State University: The Lady Marauders will look to improve upon a difficult 2012 season in which the team finished 0-16, and 0-7 against their 2013 G-MAC opponents. CSU will look to improve behind Erin McKnight (127 kills in 49 games - 2.59 kills per game) and Brein Babbs (173 assists in 46 games - 3.76 assists per game).
Central State will open at home with three matches before taking part in the G-MAC crossover event. They will then follow that event up with the early portion of the G-MAC schedule, which start on the road at Kentucky Wesleyan and Trevecca Nazarene.
Davis & Elkins College: The Senators are excited about the move to the Great Midwest Athletic Conference, but they do know they have a lot to prove this season facing teams they haven't seen before. With anything new, comes an opportunity to make an impressionable impact to change a programs make-up. AB features a young group of athletes coming in that matches the number of returners, which should create structure as well as continuity amongst the group.
In addition to G-MAC competition, they will face non-conference opponents include Southern New Hampshire University, Caldwell College, Kutztown University, LIU-Post, Clarion University, Notre Dame College, California (PA) University, Bluefield State College, Seton Hill University, Glenville State College, West Virginia Tech University, Fairmont State University and Bowie State University.
Kelsey Richards and Alexis Mourier will be making an immediate contribution on the court this season. As a senior, Richards will play a large role moving into the libero position and taking on the responsibility of team captain. Mourier, a freshman outside attacker, has had an outstanding prep career at George Washington where her team won the 2012 State Championship. During her career at George Washington, Mourier was named to the 2012 WV State All-Tournament Team, 2012 2nd team All- State, 2012 1st team All- MSAC, and 2012 North-South All- Star Team.
Kentucky Wesleyan College: The Panthers will be coming into the G-MAC for its first active season after closing out their time in the Great Lakes Valley Conference last season. Despite a 11-23 finish last season, including a 1-2 record against G-MAC opponents, KWC will look to finish among the top half of the league.
In non-conference action last year, KWC finished 8-9. Against the top two preseason members of the G-MAC, the Panthers lost to Cedarville, but went to four games, and then pushed Trevecca Nazarene to five games before falling.
Junior Bridget Johnson returns after leading the team with 325 kills and 32 service aces. KWC must replace Morgan Watson, who totaled a team-high 491 digs, and MaryBeth Ryan, who had a team-high 81 blocks. They do return setter Linda Albrecht, who had a team-high 638 assists, along with senior setter Jordan Rickert's 508 assists.
Ohio Valley University: The Fighting Scots are coming into the G-MAC off a 6-25 season, though they did manage a win over Davis and Elkins, who was ranked ahead of OVU in the G-MAC's preseason coaches' poll. They will open the season with five straight tournament/events, concluding with the G-MAC Crossover event on October 4-5. Following the event, they will open G-MAC play for the first time with a pair of home contest against fellow newcomers Davis and Elkins and Alderson Broaddus.
Ohio Valley will return leading attacker, Amanda Weatherwax, who had a team-high 219 kills and 39 service aces, while ranking second with 293 digs. Felixia Zartman, who led the team with 85 blocks (17 solo and 68 block assists), recorded 162 kills, while teammate Latoschia Taylor had 164 kills. Jessica Simpson returns as the primary setter (423 assists), but should improve with the loss of Hannah McMichael (302 assists).
Trevecca Nazarene University: Looking to build upon last season's runner-up finish in the G-MAC, the Trojan volleyball team, coached by Jayme Crowley in her sixth season, returns nearly all of its starters and will work hard to improve and come out on top in 2013. The Trojans open their season hosting the fourth annual Scott Jones Classic Sept. 6-7. TNU then opens G-MAC play Oct. 4-5 in Mason, Ohio as a part of the G-MAC Volleyball Crossover.
Do-it-all senior Kristen Johnson, the reigning G-MAC Player of the Year, returns to lead TNU, while second-year players Allison Boe, Zakia Jackson, Caroline Gay, Amy Bottomlee and Loren Bennett will look to be even better after solid freshman seasons in 2012.
Libero Shelby Sorce and middle blocker Persephonie Devereaux round out TNU's seniors that have a wealth of experience and ability. Add in three strong recruits and the team looks poised to build on last year's 23-win season.
Ursuline College: It's going to be a much different year for the Ursuline College volleyball team after a July tornado hit the Matthew J. O'Brien Athletic Center and took down an exterior wall of the school's gymnasium. The Arrows will now play their home matches at nearby Hathaway Brown School and practice on a day-to-day basis wherever they can find court time. While much is changing, the faces aren't. Last year's team didn't have a senior on the roster so Head Coach Donna Day has 12 student-athletes returning to go along with six talented newcomers.
Five members of last year's team were honored as all-conference selections by the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Senior Alex Leister and junior Kelly Stenger earned second team honors while sophomore Elise Harcek, senior Maureen Kelly and senior Ashley Reinhart earned honorable mention status. Kelly, Leister and Reinhart – as well as seniors Molly Sabolsky and Lauren Sharnsky – will be looked at to lead the program.