SIOUX FALLS, S.D. –With 61 total points and five first-place votes, the Denver Pioneers were picked for the sixth-consecutive season to take the regular-season crown in The Summit League volleyball preseason coaches’ poll released Wednesday by league officials.
Denver is the five-time defending regular-season champion and edged the reigning 2018 Summit League Tournament champion South Dakota by two points to take the top spot. The Coyotes, who look to replace 2018 Summit League Player of the Year Hayley Dotseth, held second place with 59 total points and the remaining four first-place votes.
Only eight points behind the Coyotes was Omaha with 51 total points as the Mavericks claimed third place for the second straight season. In a tie for fourth place with 35 points was Purdue Fort Wayne and Oral Roberts, while North Dakota (31 points) edged in-state rival North Dakota State (29 points) for the fifth. Rounding off the 2019 rankings was South Dakota State (No. 8; 13 points) and Western Illinois (No. 9; 10 points).
2019 Summit League Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Rank School Points (1st) 2018 Record (SL)
1. Denver 61 (5) 27-3 (15-0)
2. South Dakota 59 (4) 21-10 (13-3)
3. Omaha 51 17-12 (12-4)
T4. Purdue Fort Wayne 35 18-14 (8-8)
T4. Oral Roberts 35 9-19 (6-10)
6. North Dakota 31 14-18 (6-9)
7. North Dakota State 29 9-20 (6-10)
8. South Dakota State 13 6-23 (3-13)
9. Western Illinois 10 3-26 (2-14)
#SummitVB Preseason Notes
The league will see only one of the three individual award honorees back for the 2019 season with South Dakota returning Defensive Player of the Year Anne Rasmussen. Rasmussen finished her junior campaign with a league-leading 604 total digs and 5.44 digs per set.
Defending Summit League Tournament champion South Dakota returns eight letterwinners from the 2018 NCAA Tournament team, but look to replace 2018 Player of the Year Hayley Dotseth and 2018 Summit League Tournament MVP Taylor Wilson.
Denver and Omaha have three All-League honorees each returning for the 2019 volleyball season. The Pioneers bring back junior outside hitter Lydia Bartalo, setter Ellie Anderson and middle blocker Tina Boe. Bartalo led the league in service aces per set (0.55), Anderson ranked eighth in the league in assists per set (6.50), while Boe had the third-best hitting percentage (.335) in the league.
The Mavericks return middle blockers Isabella Sade and Anna Blaschko and right side hitter Sadie Limback. Sade finished with a second-best league hitting percentage (.343), Blaschko ranked second in the league with solo blocks (26) and Limback led the team and ranked eighth in the league in kills per set (2.89).
Western Illinois outside hitter Mackenzie Steckler and South Dakota State outside hitter Makenzie Hennen are both back for the 2019 season. Steckler had the second-best blocks per set (1.13) average in the league last season, while Hennen ranked third in kills per set (3.27).
Of the league’s top five setters only South Dakota’s Madison Jurgens returns this season. Jurgens, an All-League Honorable Mention and All-Freshman team member, ranked second in the league in assists per set (10.48) and third in total assists (1,163).
#SummitVB Schedule Notes
The 2019 season officially kicks off Aug. 30 with the first serve coming from Omaha verse Abilene Christian in the Omaha Challenge at 12:30 p.m. CT.
League play begins Tuesday, Sept. 24 inside the Gates Sports Center when Purdue Fort Wayne hosts Western Illinois.
The top six regular-season finishers qualify for The Summit League Volleyball Championship scheduled to start Friday, Nov. 22. The championship will take place in Denver, Colo., in Hamilton Gymnasium—home of the Denver Pioneers.
Players to Watch
Tina Boe | Denver | Middle Blocker | Junior
Named to the All-League honorable mention team
Led the league in hitting percentage (.335) and fourth in blocks per set (1.04)
Amanda Green | Denver | Outside Hitter | Senior
Named to the U.S. Collegiate National Team and competed in Europe, winning a gold medal at the European Global Challenge
Last season at Louisville, totaled 328 kills (second-most on the team), 206 digs and averaged 2.9 kills per set in the ACC
Katarina Marinkovic | Denver | Outside Hitter | Senior
Named to the All-League team in 2018
Ranked second on the team with 282 kills, fourth with 22 service aces, fifth with 167 digs and 55 total blocks
Anne Rasmussen | South Dakota | Defensive Specialist | Senior
2018 Summit League Defensive Player of the Year
Led the league in total digs (604) and digs per set (5.44)
Helped the Coyotes finish ninth nationally in digs per set (18.15)
Madison Jurgens | South Dakota | Setter | Sophomore
2018 Summit League All-Freshman Team, All-League honorable mention
Tallied 1,163 assists while also contributing 94 kills, 281 digs and a team-high 37 service aces in 31 matches
Sami Slaughter | South Dakota | Outside Hitter | Junior
Appeared in 10 matches and tallied 25 kills, 11 digs and two blocks on a 2018 Nebraska team that dropped a five-set NCAA Division I national title match to Stanford
Last season had four kills and two digs against No. 7 Florida and No. 18 Oregon
Anna Blaschko | Omaha | Middle Blocker | Junior
2018 All-League honorable mention
Led the team in blocks and ranked second in the league in solo blocks (26)
Isabella Sade | Omaha | Middle Blocker | Junior
2018 All-League selection, 2017 Summit League Freshman of the Year
Led the team and ranked second in the league with a .343 hitting percentage
Sadie Limback | Omaha | Right Side | Sophomore
2018 Summit League All-Freshman team, 2018 Summit League Championship All-Tournament team
Led the team and ranked eighth in the league with 2.89 kills per set
Sydney Boerst | Purdue Fort Wayne | Middle Hitter | Junior
2018 All-League First Team member
Led the team with 116 total blocks and ranked third on the team with 280 kills
Madelyn Wurster | Purdue Fort Wayne | Right Side | Sophomore
2018 Summit League All-Freshman team
Finished her freshman year with 128 kills, 22 total blocks and 14 digs
CeCe Madison | Oral Roberts | Outside Hitter | Senior
Led ORU with 242 total kills
Ranked second on the team with 10 double-doubles
Ashley Brueggeman | North Dakota | Outside Hitter | Senior
Second on the team in kills (2.49), blocks (0.67) and points per set (2.85)
Made 25 starts while making 29 appearances
Lexi Ahrens | North Dakota | Middle Hitter | Sophomore
Ranked second on the team in hitting percentage (.235)
Totaled 10 or more kills twice and multiple blocks eight times last season
Alexis Bachmeier | North Dakota State | Outside Hitter | Junior
Finished the season hitting .116, averaging 2.26 kills and 2.89 digs per set
Tied for second on the team with service aces (23), blocks (59) and assists (18)
Emily Halverson | North Dakota State | Middle Hitter | Junior
Started all 29 matches and 111 sets
Ranked No. 8 in the league with 106 total blocks and No. 10 in blocks per set
Ashlynn Smith | South Dakota State | Outside Hitter | Senior
Started 25 of 29 matches and played in 102 sets
Finished second on the team in kills (251) and kills per set (2.46)
Makenzie Hennen | South Dakota State | Outside Hitter | Senior
2018 All-League honorable mention
Led the Jackrabbits in kills (340), kills per set (3.27) and attack attempts (1,098), while finishing second in service aces (13), digs (281), digs per set (2.70) and solo blocks (7)
Mariah Mitchell | Western Illinois | Right Side | Sophomore
Played in a total of 78 sets during her freshman campaign
Finished with 336 attacks, 112 kills, 3 assists, 22 digs and 35 block assists
Mackenzie Steckler | Western Illinois | Outside Hitter | Junior
2017 All-League honorable mention
Completed the 2018 season with 155 kills, 364 attacks, 2 assists, 32 digs and 89 block assists
Note: Players to Watch nominated by league’s head coaches