Idaho Named No. 3, EWU No. 7 In Preseason Big Sky Volleyball Pol - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Idaho Named No. 3, EWU No. 7 In Preseason Big Sky Volleyball Poll

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In its first year back in the conference Idaho volleyball was named No. 3 in the Big Sky Preseaon poll, with EWU taking seventh. In its first year back in the conference Idaho volleyball was named No. 3 in the Big Sky Preseaon poll, with EWU taking seventh.

by Big Sky Conference Media Relations

OGDEN, Utah (August 12, 2014) - In a vote by the league's head volleyball coaches, Idaho State and Northern Arizona were selected as co-favorites to win the 2014 Big Sky Conference title.

Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team in the preseason poll, which was released Tuesday by the league office.

Idaho State and Northern Arizona tied for first with four first-place votes and 108 points each. ISU finished the 2013 season with a 23-12 overall record. After going 14-6 in conference, Idaho State earned the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. The Bengals defeated No. 6 Northern Colorado and No. 2 North Dakota before topping the No. 1 seed and host Portland State in the championship. Idaho State advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1990 season. Idaho State lost in the first round 3-1 to Hawai'i. The Bengals will be returning Tressa Lyman, a Big Sky First Team selection as well as Makenzie Filer, the 2013 Big Sky All-Tournament MVP.

Northern Arizona finished the 2013 season fourth overall with a 13-7 conference record. The Lumberjacks advanced to the Big Sky Conference tournament for its second consecutive year. NAU fell in the quarterfinals to No. 4 Montana 3-2. Northern Arizona is looking to advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999. The Lumberjacks return Janae Vander Ploeg, a First Team selection and Sydney Kemper, a Second Team selection.

Idaho, who rejoined the league on July 1, was picked to finish third with two first-place votes and 95 total points. The Vandals finished the 2013 season with a 19-11 overall record and an 11-5 conference record, tying for third in the Western Athletic Conference. UI lost in the semifinals to No. 1 seed New Mexico State. While the University of Idaho was in the Big Sky Conference from 1963-1996, the Vandals won the Big Sky tournament in its final four seasons.

North Dakota was picked to finish fourth with two first-place votes and 92 total points. UND was a co-regular season champion with Portland State after finishing 17-3 in conference. It was North Dakota's first ever Big Sky championship in any sport since it joined the league in 2012. UND lost in the semifinals of the tournament to eventual champion Idaho State. Second Team selection Nikki Husfeldt will return for UND for the 2014 season.

Northern Colorado was selected to finish fifth with 86 total points. The Bears, who have won three titles in the last five years, finished the 2013 season in a tie for sixth place with a 10-10 conference record. UNC lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion, Idaho State. The Bears will return Second Team selection Brianna Strong.

Portland State was picked to finish sixth with 84 total points. The Vikings finished the 2013 season with a 17-3 conference record, giving PSU the No. 1 seed at the tournament. Portland State defeated Montana in the semifinals before falling to Idaho State in the championship match. PSU will lose four starters including four-time First Team selection and the 2013 MVP in setter Garyn Schlatter. Kasimira Clark, the reigning Libero of the Year, will return to the court in 2014 for the Vikings.

Eastern Washington was picked to finish seventh with 60 total points. The Eagles finished the 2013 season with a 7-13 conference record, good for eighth in the standings. EWU will be without head coach Wade Benson for an indefinite amount of time and will be led by Michael King. The Eagles will return Honorable Mention selection, Allie Schumacher.

Rounding out the poll was Sacramento State (8th, 49 points), Montana (9th, 35), Montana State (10th, 33), Weber State (11th, 26) and Southern Utah (12th, 16).

The 2014 season begins August 29, and the first conference match will be played September 25.

For the 2014 season, we will have two divisions in volleyball. Eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, Montana State, North Dakota and Northern Colorado will be in the North Division. Idaho State, Northern Arizona, Portland State, Sacramento State, Southern Utah and Weber State will be in the South Division.

The top eight teams will advance to the 2014 Big Sky Championship. The top eight will be decided by overall conference winning percentage, regardless of division.

The Championship will be November 20-22 and will be hosted by the regular-season champion.

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