WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita State volleyball’s Natalie Foster, Brylee Kelly, and Kayce Litzau were named to the American Athletic Conference Preseason All-Conference Team, the league announced Wednesday. Kelly was one of five unanimous selections among the 13-player team.
In the team poll, the Shockers were picked fourth while earning one first place vote. UCF, led by preseason player of the year McKenna Melville, is the unanimous favorite with 100 points. Houston and Cincinnati rank second and third, respectively.
All three Shockers were also selected postseason All-Conference in 2021, with Kelly a unanimous First Team choice and Foster and Litzau earning spots on the Second Team.
Kelly was a consistent force all season long for Wichita State a year ago, posting double-digit kills in 22 of 26 matches for a team-best 3.54 kills per set that ranked fourth in the American. Kelly’s rate of 0.36 aces per set finished fourth in the AAC, and her 4.16 points per set were fourth. The native of Monee, Ill., was the only underclassman ranked in the top five in both kills and points per set.
For the season, Kelly finished with a team-leading 368 total kills, hitting .241.
Litzau blossomed into one of the conference’s most well-rounded setters in a breakout sophomore campaign, leading the conference with 10.18 assists per set. Litzau finished with 1,110 total assists, good for 36th in the country. The native of Greendale, Wis., had eight matches of 50 or more helpers, including a career-best 61 assists in the win at SMU on October 10.
Her .375 set percentage ranked second in the conference among full-time setters, trailing only UCF’s Amber Olson.
With Wichita State’s middles beset by injuries, Foster shouldered much of the Shockers offensive load, leading all middles in AAC play with 197 kills. Despite the increased workload, the native of Mattawan, Mich., finished sixth in the league with a .334 hitting percentage, best among all AAC freshmen. She was twice named to the American Weekly Honor Roll, including on the final week of the season when she hit .452 with 35 total kills against SMU and Memphis.
Foster posted 11 matches with double-digit kills, all in conference play. The 6’4 middle had four matches of 16 or more kills on less than 30 attacks.
The Shockers open the 2022 season Aug. 26-28 at the Rumble in the Rockies in Wyoming, with the home opener scheduled for Sept. 23 against Temple.
2022 American Athletic Conference:
Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses. Coaches could not vote for their own teams/players)
1. UCF (10) — 100
2. Houston — 88
3. Cincinnati — 77
4. Wichita State (1) — 74
5. SMU — 71
6. Tulsa — 51
7. Tulane — 39
8. Memphis — 33
9. East Carolina — 32
10. South Florida — 22
11. Temple – 18
Preseason Player of the Year:
McKenna Melville, Sr., OH, UCF*
Preseason All-Conference Team:
Claudia Dillon, Sr., MB, UCF
Amber Olson, Gr., S, UCF
McKenna Melville, Gr., OH, UCF*
Abby Walker, So., MB/RS, Cincinnati
Annie Cooke, Jr., S, Houston
Katie Georgiades, Jr., L, Houston
Abbie Jackson, Sr., OH, Houston*
Rachel Tullos, Sr., MB, Houston*
Rachel Woulfe, Sr., OH, SMU*
Kayley Cassaday, Sr., OH, Tulsa
Natalie Foster, So., MB, Wichita State
Brylee Kelly, R-Jr., OH, Wichita State*
Kayce Litzau, Jr., S, Wichita State
*denotes unanimous selection