Q: What do the MIAA and Jayhawk Conference volleyball teams have in common?
A: They’ve both got a bunch of teams in preseason Top 25 polls, with the MIAA checking in with five (none lower than 17, BTW) and the Jayhawk with five.
No doubt, the story within the state of Kansas, volleyball-wise, has got to be Emporia State, the No. 3 team in the preseason NCAA Division II poll. The Hornets have their best two players — and a pair of All-Americans — back in setter Ting Liu and outside hitter Arica Shepard as well as the fact that … Bing Xu can really coach. What I’m interested in is to see how ESU handles all of the expectations. Remember, a year ago, they’d never even won an MIAA title.
That being said, the MIAA is no given. Not even close. You think Truman (No. 9), Washburn (No. 11), Central Missouri (No. 12) and Pittsburg State (No. 17) are going to just roll over? Hardly.
CORRECTION — HOW COULD I HAVE MISSED THIS? JOHNSON COUNTY IS RANKED NO. 3 IN DII, WHICH IS DEFINITELY HIGHER THAN NO. 4. HEY, NOBODY’S PERFECT.
As far as the Jayhawk — they’ve got four teams ranked, with two in the NJCAA DI poll and two in the NJCAA DII poll, the highest of the four being Johnson County at No. 3 in DII, followed by Cowley at No. 4.
Hutchinson is ranked No. 13 in DI, with first-team All-Jayhawk middle blocker Debbie Ohl back. Ohl, a 5-foot-11 Hutch Trinity H.S. product, put up 175 blocks last season. That’s pretty good. Pratt was No. 18 in the DI poll, led by last year’s Jayhawk West freshman of the year, outside hitter Katerin Trejos. Cowley lost its coach, Joanna Pryor, to NCAA Division II Newman, but they grabbed Pitt State assistant Jennifer Bahner to replace her. And they’ve got all-league setter Sarah Eldridge back, so they don’t need a new quarterback. Butler’s at No. 12 in the DII poll.