Aug 27, 2013
NEW YORK - Creighton, coming off a 29-4 season and conference championship in 2012, has been picked to win the 2013 BIG EAST women's volleyball regular-season title by a vote of the league's coaches.
The Bluejays' Kelli Browning and Marquette's Elizabeth Koberstein tied in the voting for Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year and share the honor. The Preseason All-BIG EAST Team also was announced with Creighton placing three student-athletes on the 14-player squad. Eight of the 14 players were unanimous selections. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players and did not place their own teams in the preseason poll.
Creighton is in its first year of competition in The BIG EAST Conference along with new members Xavier and Butler. The Bluejays received seven first-place votes and 63 points in the poll. Marquette edged Xavier for the second place in the poll. The Golden Eagles received the other two first-place votes and had 57 points. Xavier was a solid third-place selection with 50 points.
Browning, a junior middle blocker, was the Defensive Player of the Year last season in the Missouri Valley Conference. She tied for the national lead in blocks with 204 and set school records for block assists, total blocks and hitting percentage.
Koberstein, a senior setter, led the BIG EAST last year with 11.64 assists per set, which ranked 10th nationally. She helped Marquette hit a league-leading .277 overall and .292 in conference play. She was one of eight setters who trained with the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Senior A2 Program this summer.
As a team, Creighton will begin this season ranked 25th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll, the first time the Bluejays have been ranked in the preseason. Creighton returns four starters, include sophomore outside hitter Melanie Jereb and junior outside hitter Leah McNary. Both made the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team with Browning. Jereb and McNary also made the MVC All-Tournament Team last year. Jereb was a first-team all-conference pick and McNary made the second team.
Koberstein is joined on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team by teammate Lindsey Gosh, a junior outside hitter who led her team, and was 24th nationally, with 0.41 service aces per set. Marquette will be aiming for its third straight NCAA Championship appearance this year. MU has won at least 23 matches and 11 BIG EAST contests in the last three years.
Xavier will be led by middle blocker Alex Smith and outside hitter Sarah Brown, a pair of seniors who were both unanimous selections on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Smith is a two-time first team All-Atlantic 10 selection. Her .373 hitting percentage last year was the fourth best in school history. Brown was led the team with 390 kills and was second with 350 digs.
Seton Hall was tabbed for fourth place, just two points ahead of St. John's. The Pirates are led by Shelby Manthorpe, a junior setter. She led the nation with eight triple-doubles last year. She also was chosen unanimously for the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. St. John's is led by junior outside hitter Karin Palgutova, a Preseason All-BIG EAST pick whose 0.46 service per aces per set average was eighth nationally.
Butler edged Villanova for sixth place by one point in the poll. The Bulldogs are represented on the preseason all-conference team by Erica Stahl, a junior middle blocker was 13th nationally last season with 1.49 blocks per set. DePaul was picked eighth, just ahead of Georgetown. DePaul's Vesela Zapryanova, a senior who was a unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST selection. An All-BIG EAST Second Team pick in 2012, the outside hitter led her team with 350 kills, 1013 total attempts and 405.5 points. Georgetown is led by Preseason All-BIG EAST pick Danielle White, a junior middle blocker who led the Hoyas with 107 blocks and was second on the team with 306 kills.
The top four teams in the final regular-season standings will participate in the BIG EAST Volleyball Championship, which will be hosted by Creighton Nov. 29-30.
2013 BIG EAST Women's Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll
BIG EAST Preseason Players of the Year
Kelli Browning, Creighton
Elizabeth Koberstein, Marquette
2013 BIG EAST Women's Volleyball Preseason All-BIG EAST Team
Erica Stahl, MB, Jr., Butler
*Kelli Browning, MB, Jr., Creighton
*Melanie Jereb, OH, So., Creighton
Leah McNary, OH, Jr., Creighton
*Vesela Zapryanova, OH, Sr. DePaul
*Danielle White, MB, Jr., Georgetown
Lindsey Gosh, OH, Jr., Marquette
*Elizabeth Koberstein, S, Sr., Marquette
Karin Palgutova, OH, Jr., St. John's
*Shelby Manthorpe, S, Jr., Seton Hall
*Sarah Brown, OH, Sr., Xavier
*Alex Smith, MB, Sr., Xavier
*denotes unanimous selection
Note: Players were chosen regardless of position.