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WIAC Preview: Volleyball Picked to Finish Third in WIAC

WIAC Preview: Volleyball Picked to Finish Third in WIAC

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MADISON, Wis. ( - University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the defending conference tri-champion, is the favorite to secure the 2012 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) women’s volleyball championship, according to a preseason poll conducted by the league’s sports information directors.

The Pointers, who split last year’s crown with UW-Whitewater and UW-Eau Claire, received eight first-place votes in the ballot.  UW-Stevens Point returns all seven starters, and three All-WIAC first team performers, from the 2011 squad that won the program’s first conference championship since 1981.  The Pointers also put together a school-record 18-match winning streak and made their first NCAA championship appearance since 1985.

Senior Christina Brinkman tallied 393 kills a year ago - the sixth-highest total in program history - and classmate Morgan Bartkowiak topped the league with 172 blocks, while placing sixth with a .283 hitting percentage.

UW-Whitewater captured the remaining first-place nod in the league projections and is slotted for second in the nine-team derby.  The regular-season crown in 2011 marked the 14th in program archives and the Warhawks also earned the WIAC tournament title for the 14th time.  Sophomore Alivia Holman finished fourth in the WIAC with a .297 hitting percentage to help the Warhawks to their 20th consecutive NCAA championship showing.  Head coach Stacy Boudreau needs four victories to reach 300 in her career.

UW-Eau Claire’s 2011 title was their second straight and fifth overall.  The Blugolds have won at least 22 matches every year since 2005.  UW-Eau Claire posted a 12-match winning streak a year ago - tying for the sixth-longest in program history.  Senior Anne Satterlee ranked fifth in the conference with a .288 hitting percentage, while classmate Emily Neave was second with 10.42 assists per set.

UW-Oshkosh returns four individuals who played in at least 113 sets last year, including junior Jordyn Bratel who led the team with 131.  The Titans also return their top-three blockers, including senior Kayla Powers who posted 97 blocks a year ago.  Five times in the past seven seasons, UW-Oshkosh has won at least 32 matches and won or shared the WIAC trophy.  The Titans will play their first 12 matches away from renovated Kolf Sports Center.

UW-Platteville returns three of their top-five performers in kills from the 2011 campaign, including junior Stephanie Kirchner who finished eighth in the WIAC with a .264 hitting percentage.  The Pioneers have won at least nine home matches three consecutive years.  Head coach Deb Schulman begins her 25th season tied for 14th among active NCAA Division III coaches with 577 career wins.

UW-River Falls returns all seven starters from last season’s squad, including seniors Courtney Preiner and Erin Green.  Preiner needs 372 digs to establish a school career record, while Green topped the WIAC with 3.58 kills per set and was seventh with a .275 hitting percentage.  Junior Jean Theis placed third in the league with a .299 hitting percentage.  This year’s preseason roster features eight seniors - the most since the 2003 squad that also had eight and earned a share of the league championship.

UW-Superior’s 16 wins a season ago were the most since the 2007 squad posted 21 victories.  Senior Farrah Wirtz finished second in the WIAC with 4.68 digs per set a year ago, while sophomore Keely Deadrick was fourth with .41 service aces per set and seventh with 7.75 assists per set.  The Yellowjackets will play 12 of their first 14 matches away from home to start the 2012 campaign.

UW-Stout returns three of its top-four hitters, its top blocker, its top setter and its top-two leaders in digs from a year ago.  Senior Kate Mikutowski led the team in kills (261) and service aces (32), while ranking second in digs (269).  Head coach Jill Jolliff is the winningest coach in program history with 333 victories to her credit.

Lily Hallock begins her first season as head coach at UW-La Crosse, replacing Sheila Perkins who retired after accumulating 392 victories in 18 years at the helm.  Hallock previously served as the graduate assistant coach at Smith College (Mass.) and was a four-year starter at University of California-Santa Cruz.  The Eagles return four of their top-five leaders in kills from a year ago and junior Kayla Ashland led the team with 69 blocks.

2012 Preseason Predictions--Voted on by WIAC Sports Information Directors

  2011 Record
1.  UW-Stevens Point (8) 26-8 overall, 7-1 WIAC
2.  UW-Whitewater (1) 26-8, 7-1
3.  UW-Eau Claire 22-13, 7-1
4.  UW-Oshkosh 18-18, 4-4
5.  UW-Platteville 21-16, 4-4
6.  UW-River Falls 16-18, 3-5
7.  UW-Superior 16-17, 2-6
8.  UW-Stout 5-23, 1-7
9.  UW-La Crosse 7-23, 1-7
( )--First-place votes  

Team Snippets

UW-Eau Claire
Head Coach:  Kim Wudi; 6th season at UWEC; 124-54
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  10/8
Starters Returning/Lost:  5/2
Returning All-WIAC:  Emily Neave, Sr., S (2011-Honorable); Anne Satterlee, Sr., OH (2011-First)

UW-La Crosse
Head Coach:  Lily Hallock; 1st season at UWL
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  7/3
Starters Returning/Lost:  3/3
Returning All-WIAC:  Kayla Ashland, Jr., MH (2010-Honorable, 2011-Honorable)

Head Coach:  Brian Schaefer; 9th season at UWO; 231-61
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  8/7
Starters Returning/Lost:  5/2
Returning All-WIAC:  Jordyn Bratel, Jr., OH (2011-First)

Head Coach:  Deb Schulman; 25th season at UWP; 577-312
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  12/4
Starters Returning/Lost:  3/3
Returning All-WIAC:  Stephanie Kirchner, Jr., MH (2010-Honorable, 2011-First)

UW-River Falls
Head Coach:  Patti Ford; 21st season at UWRF; 473-265
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  15/2
Starters Returning/Lost:  7/0
Returning All-WIAC:  Erin Green, Sr., MH (2010-First, 2011-First); Courtney Preiner, Sr., Libero (2011-Defensive); Jean Theis, Jr., MH (2011-Honorable)

UW-Stevens Point
Head Coach:  Stacey White; 12th season at UWSP; 183-191
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  12/3 
Starters Returning/Lost:  7/0
Returning All-WIAC:  Morgan Bartkowiak, Sr., MH (2010-Honorable, 2011-First); Christina Brinkman, Sr., OH (2011-First); Ally Groth, So., Libero (2011-Defensive); Alexis Hartman, So., S (2011-First)

Head Coach:  Jill Jolliff; 20th season at UWST; 333-290
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  4/5
Starters Returning/Lost:  5/2
Returning All-WIAC:  Kate Mikutowski, Sr., OH (2009-Honorable, 2011-Honorable)

Head Coach:  Lynne Deadrick; 10th season at UWS; 127-175
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  11/2
Starters Returning/Lost:  6/1
Returning All-WIAC:  Farrah Wirtz, Sr., Libero (2011-Defensive)

Head Coach:  Stacy Boudreau; 11th season (8th at UWW); 296-87 (overall) / 226-50 (at UWW)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  15/8
Starters Returning/Lost:  5/2
Returning All-WIAC:  Heidi Buss, Jr., S (2011-Honorable); Alivia Holman, So., MH (2011-Honorable)

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