Like in men’s basketball, Missouri Valley Conference volleyball went to Creighton during the regular season. Then Wichita State stole the spotlight with its NCAA success. Creighton’s departure hurts MVC volleyball, although it doesn’t leave the gaping hole as it does in men’s basketball.
Wichita State, Northern Iowa and Missouri State are more established programs with longer histories of success than Creighton, which made its first NCAA appearance in 2010 and won its first MVC title in 2012. Southern Illinois appears to be on a fast track. While schools need to step up to replace Creighton, that possibility is not a near-impossibility as it appears in men’s hoops.
Valley volleyball hit a high last season in the NCAAs. WSU defeated Arkansas and Kansas before losing to Southern Cal in the Sweet 16. UNI swept Kansas State before losing to Nebraska. Creighton swept Marquette before losing to Minnesota.
Wichita State’s preview starts with middles Elizabeth Field and Ashley Andrade, seniors last seen denting the floor at Allen Fieldhouse.
A look around the MVC as the season begins:
- Missouri State coach Melissa Stokes compares her depth to the 2003 and 2005 NCAA teams. A transfer hitter from South Florida could be a significant addition.
- Bradley brings back an experienced team for third-season coach Jenny Maurer. Bradley last finished with a winning MVC record in 2002.
- Northern Iowa is rebuilding with two seniors and setter Kinsey Caldwell, a transfer from UNLV.
- Drake, another program with little history of success, turns to new coach Darrin McBroom.
- Evansville coach Manolo Concepcion, from Puerto Rico, is simplifying practices for the Aces and introducing a new emphasis on offense.
- Illinois State depends on transfer Emily Orrick at libero.
- Southern Illinois coach Justin Ingram imported four defensive specialists. The Salukis went 21-7 last season and finished above .500 (11-7) in the MVC for the first time since 2002. That was Ingram’s first season at SIU.
All MVC schools open this weekend in tournament play.