The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers have been selected to repeat as Conference USA champions. Travis Hudson’s squad has won the last 3 conference regular season and conference tournament titles (which is as long as they’ve been members of Conference USA), and are expected to repeat again.
The election by the conference’s 13 coaches wasn’t unanimous, however. Rice was picked to finish 2nd with 1 first place vote and FIU also received 1 first place vote – but were chosen to finish just 10th overall.
Rice is an interesting team this year – they were just 5th in the regular season last year with a 10-4 record, but made a big run to the conference championship match where they pushed Western Kentucky to the brink before eventually falling 3-2. They return middle blocker Kyle McKay, who was named to the conference’s All-Tournament team last season, and setter Madison McDaniel, who was named to the All-Conference team last season.
As for the Hilltoppers, they spent most of the season last year ranked in the top 25 nationally, though they fell out of the final poll of the season. They’ve held national rankings in each of their three title-winning seasons in the conference.
For the 2nd straight season, a WKU player has been selected as the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year. Last season, setter Jessica Lucas earned that honor. While she was named Setter of the Year for the 2nd-straight season, it was teammate Alyssa Cavanaugh who won the post-season honor, and Cavanaugh rolls forward as the Preseason Player of the Year for 2017.
Southern Miss, who finished 2nd last season, has been selected to finish 4th this year. Catherine Repsher, an outside hitter, returns for the Golden Eagles.
2017 C- USA Volleyball Preseason Team
- *Alyssa Cavanaugh, WKU, Sr., OH
- Jessica Lucas, WKU, Sr., S
- Rachel Anderson, WKU, Jr., MH
- Sarah Bell, Southern Miss, Jr., S
- Catherine Repsher, Southern Miss, So., OH
- Amanda Chamberlain, North Texas, Sr., MB
- Holly Milam, North Texas, Sr., MB
- Madison McDaniel, Rice, Sr., S
- Portia Okafor, Rice, Sr., MB
- Madison Hill, Marshall, So., MB
- Jac’cara Walker, Marshall, So., OH
- Marijeta Runjic, UTSA, Sr., OH
- Abbi Reid, Florida Atlantic, Jr., RS
2017 C-USA Volleyball Preseason Poll
- WKU (11)
- Rice (1)
- Southern Miss
- North Texas
- Florida Atlantic
- Middle Tennessee
- FIU (1)
- Louisiana Tech