Kelly Named AAC Preseason Co-Player of the Year

WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita State outside hitter Brylee Kelly was named the American Athletic Conference Preseason Co-Player of the Year on Monday, joining middle blocker Natalie Foster on the Preseason All-Conference Team. Kelly and Co-Player of the Year Jamison Wheeler of SMU were the only two unanimous selections among the 15-player team.
Kelly is the first Shocker to be named Preseason Player of the Year since Wichita State joined The American in 2017.
In the team poll, the Shockers are picked third in the West Division behind SMU and Rice. North Texas, Tulsa, Tulane and UTSA round out the West. In the East, Memphis tops the poll ahead of East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Temple, South Florida, UAB and Charlotte.

A two-time First Team All-Conference selection, Kelly led the Shockers last season with 3.27 kills per set, 0.27 aces per set, and 3.82 points per set. She ranked sixth in the league with 3.40 kills per set in AAC matches, and had 22 matches of double-digit kills, giving her 50 for her collegiate career. Entering her sixth season with the program, Kelly is on pace to leave her mark in the Wichita State record book. The native of Monee, Illinois heads into 2023 with 986 career kills, needing 132 to break into the top ten of WSU’s career leaderboard. Should Kelly match her 2022 total of 396 kills, she would climb to #3 on the list.

Last season, Kelly piled up eight doubles-doubles, highlighted by a monster performance in five-set win over Iowa State in which she scored 28.5 points on 21 kills, a career-high five aces, four blocks, and 11 digs. That was the first of four matches on the year with 20 or more kills for the redshirt senior, whose career high is 29 set twice in 2021.

Foster continued her ascendancy last season into one of the nation’s most efficient scorers out of the middle, earning First Team All-Conference, AVCA All-Region North, and CSC Academic All-District honors. The junior ranked 31st nationally with a .382 hitting percentage, finishing second on the club with 3.69 points per set and 3.01 kills per set. Foster was a model of consistency with 21 matches of 10 or more kills, featuring a stretch of 14 in a row from October 7 to November 20. The native of Mattawan, Michigan was at her best against the Shockers stiffest competition, hitting .400 or better in six matches against foes ranked in the top 100 of the RPI.

In addition to her offensive exploits, Foster finished the 2022 season with career bests in blocking (a team-high 100.0 total blocks) and serving (26 aces, more than double her 2021 total).

The Shockers open the 2023 regular season on August 25-26 at the Under Armour Challenge in Lubbock, Texas, with the home opener scheduled for September 7 against Kansas.

2023 American Athletic Conference Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses. Coaches could not vote for their own teams/players)

West Division
1. SMU (7) – 78
2. Rice (6) – 76
3. Wichita State – 59
4. North Texas – 52
5. Tulsa – 30
6. Tulane – 24
7. UTSA – 21

East Division
1. Memphis (6) – 72
2. East Carolina (5) – 70
3. Florida Atlantic (1) – 48
Temple – 48
5. South Florida (1) – 37
6. UAB – 35
7. Charlotte – 33

Preseason Co-Players of the Year:
Jamison Wheeler, Jr., OH, SMU
Brylee Kelly, R-Sr., OH, Wichita State

Preseason All-Conference Team:
Angeles Alderete, So., OH, East Carolina
Bailey Houlihan, Sr., L, Memphis
Sh’Diamond Holly, Sr., MB, North Texas
Aryn Johnson, Jr., OH, North Texas
Treyaunna Rush, Sr., OPP, North Texas
Nia McCardell, Sr., L/DS, Rice
Danyle Courtley, Sr., OH, Rice
Sahara Maruska, Sr., OH, Rice
Emilia Weske, Gr., RS, Rice
Emma Clothier, Gr., MB, SMU
Celia Cullen, Sr., S, SMU
Jamison Wheeler, Jr., OH, SMU*
Kayley, Cassaday, 5th, OH, Tulsa
Natalie Foster, Jr., MB/RS, Wichita State
Brylee Kelly, R-Sr., OH, Wichita State*

*denotes unanimous selection