After winning the Conference USA title each of the last three years, the Western Kentucky Lady Toppers were tabbed as the preseason favorite again in 2017.
WKU went 30-3 in 2016, including a perfect 14-0 mark in conference play. The squad, which received votes in the AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll, returns three All-Americans in Alyssa Cavanagh, Jessica Lucas and Rachel Anderson.
Cavanagh, the reigning C-USA Player of the Year, was named as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year honoree. The outside hitter racked up 4.41 kills per set, ranking second in the conference and 22nd nationally, while hitting at a .343 clip and adding 51 blocks.
Lucas, the 2016 C-USA Setter of the Year, and Anderson also garnered preseason Conference USA honors.
Rice, UTSA, Southern Miss and Marshall rounded out the top five in the preseason coaches poll.
Also back from the 2016 All-Conference USA team are Abbi Reid (Florida Atlantic), Amanda Chamberlain (North Texas), Sarah Bell (Southern Miss) and Madison McDaniel (Rice).
Madison Hill and Jac’cara Walker (Marshall) and Catherine Repsher (Southern Miss), all-freshman team selections a year ago, also garnered preseason honors. Repsher was the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2016.
Conference USA Preseason Poll
1. WKU (11)
2. Rice (1)
4. Southern Miss
6. North Texas
7. Florida Atlantic
9. Middle Tennessee
10. FIU (1)
12. Louisiana Tech
Conference USA 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