In what is likely a testament to continuity and a tradition of success, Kansas Wesleyan is picked second in the Kansas Conference’s preseason volleyball poll released Friday.
2018 runner-up Ottawa is the favorite, receiving 11 of 13 first-place votes and 143 points. KWU’s second with 124 points and one first-place vote. Saint Mary’s third with 119 points and defending champion McPherson fourth with 111 points and the final first-place vote.
Jessica Cleveland enters her first season as KWU’s new coach, replacing Fred Aubuchon, who accepted the head coaching job at Division II Northwestern Oklahoma State in December. Aubuchon coached the Coyotes for 10 seasons and won 219 matches, including a 25-8 slate last fall.
“I think the poll shows respect for the tradition and foundation that Kansas Wesleyan’s always had, no matter what happens. I appreciate that as well,” Cleveland said during the KWU Fall Coaches Luncheon on Thursday.
Cleveland built her own legacy as head coach at conference rival McPherson, compiling a 77-28 record in three seasons. The Bulldogs won the KCAC title last fall with a 12-0 record, were 34-4 overall and won two matches in the NAIA National Championship.
Cleveland inherits a young KWU team. Outside hitter Kendyl Estes and middle hitter Maddy Schmidt are the lone returning starters from 2018, but Cleveland has added a couple of key transfers and has a promising freshman class.
Wesleyan opens the season against MidAmerica Nazarene at 7 p.m., August 20 at Mabee Arena. The Coyotes play four matches in the KCAC Fall Fling on August 23-24 at the Hutchinson Sports Arena – College of Saint Mary and Texas Wesleyan on the 23rd, and Mount Mercy and Morningside on the 24th.
Southwestern’s fifth in the KCAC poll with 92 points, followed by Friends (87 points), Sterling (85) and Bethany (66). Oklahoma Wesleyan (58 points), Tabor (43), York (40), Bethel (32) and Avila (13) complete the poll.
2019 KCAC Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Ottawa – 143 (11)
2. Kansas Wesleyan – 124 (1)
3. Saint Mary – 119
4. McPherson – 111 (1)
5. Southwestern – 92
6. Friends – 87
7. Sterling – 85
8. Bethany – 66
9. Oklahoma Wesleyan – 58
10. Tabor – 43
11. York – 40
12. Bethel – 32
13. Avila – 13