Volleyball Picked to Take Second in WIAC Race

Volleyball Picked to Take Second in WIAC Race

MADISON, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - Two-time defending conference champion University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is the preseason favorite to win the 2010 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) women's volleyball championship, according to the league's sports information directors.

UW-Oshkosh claimed five first-place votes in the conference poll and has won 10 WIAC crowns, including four of the last five. The Titans have made 14 NCAA Division III Championship appearances and are seeking their sixth straight season of 32-plus victories. This year's roster features senior libero Christina Cahoon who claimed AVCA NCAA Division III Player of Year accolades in 2009. She enters the season needing 164 digs to establish a league career record.

Since Sept. 27, 2005, UW-Oshkosh has been ranked in the top 15 of the AVCA NCAA Division III poll - a span of 56 consecutive polls. Head coach Brian Schaefer needs 11 wins to become the ninth individual in WIAC history to reach 200 career victories and enters the season as the third-winningest active coach in the NCAA (Division I, II or III) with a .867 winning percentage.

UW-Eau Claire captured a pair of first-place votes and is expected to take second in the nine-team league derby. The Blugolds have collected three conference titles, including two in the last four seasons. UW-Eau Claire posted 30-plus wins in 2009 for the first time since 2006 and has reached the NCAA Division III Championship five straight years. UW-Eau Claire has finished no lower than third place in the WIAC since 2005.

UW-Whitewater and UW-Platteville each picked up one first-place nod in the conference ballot and are slotted for third and fourth, respectively. The Warhawks have amassed a league-best 13 titles and 23 appearances (including 18 straight) in the NCAA Division III Championship. Senior outside hitter Caitlin Hogan was an AVCA All-America Second Team selection in 2009 and the Warhawks have not had more than 10 losses in Stacy Boudreau's five seasons. UW-Whitewater's home arena will be dedicated to former head coach Kris Russell who accumulated an amazing 812 victories in 24 seasons (1981-2004) at the helm of the Warhawks.

UW-Platteville owns two WIAC crowns and six appearances in the NCAA Division III Championship. The Pioneers return a league-high four all-conference performers and are seeking their first back-to-back NCAA appearances. In 2009, senior outside hitter Melissa Hillebrand became the sixth Pioneer to earn All-America honors from the AVCA. Head coach Deb Schulman, the winningest active coach in the WIAC with 523 wins, has directed 16 of her 22 Pioneer teams to 20-plus wins.

Returning to the UW-River Falls roster are six individuals who played in at least half of the team's sets in 2009. Of those six, one is a senior and five are sophomores. The 2010 schedule begins with 19 of the first 23 matches away from home. The Falcons have registered 14 seasons of 20-plus victories under head coach Patti Ford.

UW-La Crosse returns 11 of 12 letterwinners in 2010 and has accumulated 20-plus wins in 14 of the last 15 years. The Eagles finish the 2010 campaign with eight of their last nine matches at Mitchell Hall. Senior libero Melannie Tate ranks fourth in career digs at UW-La Crosse with 1,669, while junior setter Liz Schlobohm is sixth with 1,863 career assists.

UW-Stevens Point begins the season with 13 of its first 17 matches away from home. The Pointers have posted 12 WIAC wins in the last four years - the best stretch for the program since 1995-98 when they also totaled 12 victories. UW-Stevens Point defeated UW-Platteville last season to open the conference slate, marking their first triumph over the Pioneers since 2002.

UW-Stout returns seven sophomores from the 2009 squad that accumulated the most wins since the 2006 campaign. The Blue Devils will play just five matches at Johnson Fieldhouse in 2010 and start with eight of the first nine contests on the road. Head coach Jill Jolliff is the longest tenured volleyball coach (18 years) in Blue Devil history.

UW-Superior's 2010 roster will not include one senior. The schedule starts with eight consecutive matches away from Mertz Mortorelli Gym and finishes with 11 straight away. Lynne Deadrick is the longest tenured coach (8 years) in program archives and needs three victories to become the school's all-time wins leader. She would surpass Marcia Engebretson's 104 triumphs from 1991-96.

2010 Preseason Predictions--Voted on by WIAC Sports Information Directors
2009 Record
1. UW-Oshkosh (5)       8-0, 39-3
2. UW-Eau Claire (2)     5-3, 31-8
3. UW-Whitewater (1)    6-2, 31-7
4. UW-Platteville (1)      5-3, 22-15
5. UW-River Falls          5-3, 20-15
6. UW-La Crosse          2-6, 7-22
7. UW-Stevens Point     3-5, 13-22
8. UW-Stout                 1-7, 14-19
9. UW-Superior             1-7, 12-20
( )-First-place votes

Team Tidbits

UW-Eau Claire
Head Coach: Kim Wudi; 4th season at UWEC; 77-31
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 11/8
Starters Returning/Lost: 6/1
Returning All-WIAC: Danielle Lucia, Sr., MB (2009-Honorable); Rachel Ver Voort, Sr., OH (2009-Honorable); Emily Zupon, Sr., OH (2009-Honorable)

UW-La Crosse
Head Coach:  Sheila Perkins; 23rd season (17th at UWL); 476-286 (overall) / 374-175 (UWL)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 9/3
Starters Returning/Lost: 5/2
Returning All-WIAC:  Melannie Tate, Sr., Libero (2008-Defensive)

Head Coach:  Brian Schaefer; 7th season at UWO; 189-29
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 10/8
Starters Returning/Lost: 4/3
Returning All-WIAC: Christina Cahoon, Sr., Libero (2008-First, 2008-Defensive, 2009-First, 2009-Defensive); Andrea Smith, Sr., OH (2008-Honorable)

Head Coach: Deb Schulman; 23rd season at UWP; 523-292
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 10/5
Starters Returning/Lost: 6/1
Returning All-WIAC: Melissa Hillebrand, Sr., OH (2008-Honorable, 2009-First); Briana Kaiser, Jr., MH (2009-Honorable); Ali Sikic, Jr., S (2009-Honorable); Abby Carey, Sr., Libero (2009-All-Def.)

UW-River Falls
Head Coach: Patti Ford; 19th season at UWRF; 437-234
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 14/7
Starters Returning/Lost: 5/2
Returning All-WIAC: None

UW-Stevens Point
Head Coach: Stacey White; 10th season at UWSP; 136-170
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 10/6
Starters Returning/Lost: 6/1
Returning All-WIAC: None

Head Coach: Jill Jolliff; 18th season at UWS; 322-243
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 5/7
Starters Returning/Lost: 3/4
Returning All-WIAC: Kate Mikutowski, So., OH (2009-Honorable)

Head Coach: Lynne Deadrick; 8th season at UWS; 102-131
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 9/5
Starters Returning/Lost: 2/5
Returning All-WIAC: None

Head Coach: Stacy Boudreau; 9th season (6th at UWW); 242-70 (overall) / 172-33 (UWW)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 8/7
Starters Returning/Lost: 4/3
Returning All-WIAC: Caitlin Hogan, Sr., OH (2008-First, 2009-First); Alyssa Bauer, Jr., Libero (2008-Defensive, 2009-Defensive); Christina DeGroot, Jr., S (2008-Honorable)