The following is a press release courtesy of Iowa State athletics communications.
AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State volleyball team was picked to finish second in the 2015 Big 12 Preseason Volleyball Poll, released Friday. This marks the seventh-consecutive season that the Cyclones have been picked to finish among the conference’s top-three squads prior to the start of the season.
Iowa State is coming off its ninth-consecutive NCAA Volleyball Championship appearance in 2014, finishing with a 19-10 record overall, and tied for second in the Big 12 with a 10-6 conference mark. ISU returns 11 letterwinners from last season’s squad, including 2015 Big 12 Preseason Team selection and 2014 Third Team All-American and Big 12 Libero of the Year Caitlin Nolan. The Cyclones also bring in one of the top recruiting classes in the country, with the six-player class ranked No. 8 by PrepVolleyball.com.
2014 NCAA National Semifinalists Texas was the unanimous selection to finish first in the Big 12. The Longhorns, now four-time defending Big 12 Champions, return a loaded squad led by 2014 First-Team All-American middle blocker and 2015 Big 12 Preseason Co-Player of the Year Chiaka Ogbogu and USC transfer and 2013 National Freshman of the Year Ebony Nwanebu.
Oklahoma, led by 2015 Big 12 Preseason Co-Player of the Year Kierra Holst, were picked to finish third. The Cyclones were able to do the double over the Sooners last season, taking down OU in four sets in Ames, and picking up a tough five-set win in Norman three weeks later.
Kansas, who along with Oklahoma and Texas feature three Preseason All-Big 12 honorees, are pegged for fourth. The Jayhawks return a strong core led by two-time All-Big 12 middle blocker Tayler Soucie and star sophomores in setter Ainise Havili and right side Kelsie Payne, but need to replace the production of graduated All-Big 12 outside hitters Chelsea Albers and Sara McClinton.
Kansas State, fresh off its return to the NCAA Volleyball Championships after missing in 2013, were tabbed forfifth. Baylor, under the guidance of new head coach Ryan McGuyre, are picked for sixth. TCU, who are now led by ex-West Virginia head coach Jill Kramer, were picked seventh, Texas Tech was selected in eighth and WVU rounded out the poll in ninth.
Iowa State will open its regular season three weeks from tonight on Aug. 28 at 6:30 p.m. against Dayton as part of the Iowa State Challenge. On Saturday, Aug. 22 ISU will host its annual Cardinal and Gold Scrimmage starting at 1 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum.