(Editor’s note: Big Sky Conference media release)
OGDEN, Utah (August 8, 2018) – The 2018 Big Sky Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll is in and Idaho was picked as the preseason favorite to win the Big Sky as voted on by the league’s coaches.
Idaho posted a 12-4 Big Sky record last season and made it to the Big Sky semifinal match. More importantly, Idaho returns four starters and its libero which is a big reason why the Vandals emerged as the preseason favorite with 99 points and nine first-place votes. Senior Sarah Sharp, a first team all-conference outside hitter in 2017, is one of those four returners. The Vandals also return a pair of second team all-Big Sky selections in senior outside hitter Kaela Straw and senior middle blocker DeVonne Ryter. If that wasn’t enough, Idaho also brings back last year’s Newcomer of the Year Alycia Wodke who made an immediate impact as a defensive specialist.
Northern Arizona took second in the poll with 87 points and two first-place votes. The Lumberjacks return two first team all-conference honorees (Abby Akin, Kaylie Jorgenson) and a second team all-conference selection (Heaven Harris). NAU earned a No. 5 seed at last year’s Big Sky Tournament after it posted a league record of 9-7 during the regular season. Additionally, Northern Arizona brings back all six of last year’s starters plus its libero.
After it turned in an impressive 15-1 conference record last season, Sacramento State was picked third in the poll with 78 points. The 2017 Big Sky regular season champions return four starters from a year ago, including senior outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti and senior middle blocker Lana Brown. Nocetti earned first team all-conference status while Brown snagged second team all-conference honors last season.
Portland State was slotted fourth in the poll with 71 points. The Vikings return three starters (Parker Webb, Katy Wilson and Haley Glass). Coach Michael Seemann will also bring back 10 total letterwinners after Portland State posted an 11-5 conference record in 2017.
After Weber State qualified for its first Big Sky Volleyball Tournament in nine years, the coaches picked them fifth (63 points) coming into the 2018 season. The Wildcats are a young team and return five starters while adding six newcomers. Senior outside hitter Andrea Hale earned second team all-conference honors last season and looks to guide the Wildcats to their second-straight trip to the Big Sky Volleyball Tournament.
Northern Colorado earned the sixth spot with 56 points, while Idaho State was ranked seventh with 52 points. Montana State was eighth with 34 points along with Montana in ninth with 28 points.
Rounding out the poll was Southern Utah (10th, 20 points) and Eastern Washington (11th, 17 points).
The 2018 season begins August 17 and conference play opens September 18.
2018 Big Sky Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Total points and first-place votes at right.
1. Idaho 99 (9)
2. Northern Arizona 87 (2)
3. Sacramento State 78
4. Portland State 71
5. Weber State 63
6. Northern Colorado 56
7. Idaho State 52
8. Montana State 34
9. Montana 28
10. Southern Utah 20
11. Eastern Washington 17