OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- After finishing the 2014 season with a 22-11 record and an appearance in the conference tournament quarterfinals, the John Brown volleyball team will begin the 2015 campaign tabbed to finish fourth in the Sooner Athletic Conference, according to the voting by conference coaches in the annual preseason poll, announced Thursday (Aug. 13) by the conference office.
Defending conference champion Wayland Baptist (Texas), which finished last season with a record of 23-10, is the clear favorite in 2015 and finished eight points ahead of runner-up Oklahoma City. WBU was voted first on six of the seven ballots and finished with a total of 71 points while OCU collected the remaining first-place vote and totaled 63 points in the poll.
Texas Wesleyan was picked third with 55 points, while the Golden Eagles was selected fourth (54), Southwestern A.G. (Texas) was picked fifth (42) and Southwestern Christian (Okla.), sixth (31). Mid-America Christian (Okla.) was seventh (29) with St. Gregory’s (Okla.) and conference newcomer Bacone (Okla.) sharing eighth with 24 points.
The Golden Eagles return seven letterwinners from the 2014 campaign and welcome seven new faces this season. JBU returns All-Conference honorees in seniors Audrey Dearien (first team), Libby Blasingame (second team), Melissa Bakke (honorable mention) and junior Molli Pugh (honorable mention). Dearien became John Brown's first All-American in 2014 since Juliana Todescan was named to the NAIA's All-America third team in 2006. She also paced the Golden Eagles last season with 416 kills and contributed 370 digs, second-most on the squad. Blasingame and Bakke also return for their senior seasons as the front-row duo combined for 446 terminations, 176 and 270, respectively. Pugh tallied 186 kills last year but also threw up 62 total blocks, good enough for second-most on the team. JBU will have to work around three key losses in Shayna Daniels, Becca Young and Tiffany Hunnicutt. Daniels paced last year's team in assists (663) and aces (71) while Young racked up 487 digs, most of any player. Hunnicutt contributed 229 kills and 60 total blocks in 2014.
The 2015 volleyball season begins Aug. 20 with just one team in action, but picks up the following day (Aug. 21) with five teams teams scheduled to compete, including the Golden Eagles, which open against Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) at noon at the SAC/RRAC Clash, hosted by Texas Wesleyan. Conference teams will use a double round-robin scheduling model, in which each team plays a home and away match against each of the other teams. The top eight teams in the final conference standings qualify for the SAC tournament, with the winner earning an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championships.
2015 SAC Volleyball Preseason Poll
|1.||Wayland Baptist (Texas)||6||1||71|
|5.||Southwestern A.G. (Texas)||3||3||1||1||42|
|6.||Southwestern Christian (Okla.)||2||2||3||31|
|7.||Mid-America Christian (Okla.)||1||1||2||3||28|
|8.||St. Gregory's (Okla.)||1||1||2||3||24|