Volleyball Picked to Finish Fourth in 2016

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- For the second-consecutive season, the John Brown University volleyball team has been picked to finish fourth in the Sooner Athletic Conference, according to the voting by conference coaches in the annual preseason poll, announced Monday (Aug. 8) afternoon by the conference office.

Last season, the Golden Eagles posted a 22-15 overall record and finished in third place, by way of tiebreaker, in the Sooner Athletic with a 10-6 record. Holding the tiebreaker with Texas Wesleyan and Southwestern A.G. (Texas), JBU topped SAGU in the SAC tournament quarterfinals before being ousted by top-seeded Wayland Baptist (Texas) in the semifinals.

John Brown was picked to finish fourth with 77 total points, trailing presumed conference champion Oklahoma City (98 points), conference runner-up Wayland Baptist (91 points) and Texas Wesleyan (80 points).

The remainder of the teams in the poll were SAGU in fifth while Mid-America Christian (Okla.) and Southwestern Christian (Okla.) shared sixth-place with 51 points each. The poll concluded with St. Gregory's (Okla.) in eighth place, Bacone (Okla.) in ninth and first-year program Science & Arts (Okla.) in 10th.

The final regular-season standings will determine the seeds for the Sooner Athletic tournament, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday (Nov. 8). The winner of the SAC Tournament will receive an automatic berth into the NAIA National Championships.

The Golden Eagles graduated its two All-Sooner Athletic first team honorees, Audrey Dearien, also named to the NAIA All-America third team, and Libby Blasingame at the conclusion of the 2015 campaign and will rely heavily on its two second team honorees in senior middle hitter Molli Pugh and junior setter Alyssa Arnold. Junior defensive specialist Beth Brankle, a Sooner Athletic honorable mention last season, will return to anchor the back line in 2016.

Joining JBU's ten returners are five newcomers in middle hitter Jessica Meyer (Windsor, Colo. / Windsor Christian), setter Elizabeth Williams (Springdale, Ark. / Har-Ber), middle hitter Lindsey Davis (Plano, Texas / East), opposite hitter Megan Beck (Frisco, Texas / Legacy Christian Academy) and outside hitter Carly McKinney (Mission Viejo, Calif / Trabuco Hills).

John Brown will conclude preseason training next weekend and travel to Denver, Colo. to play in the Johnson & Wales (Colo.) Invitational, where the Golden Eagles will take on Benedictine at Mesa (Ariz.) and host JWU on Friday (Aug. 19) before facing Montana Western and Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) on Saturday (Aug. 20).

2016 SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll • First place votes in ( )

  1. Oklahoma City – 98 points (7)
  2. Wayland Baptist – 91 points (3)
  3. Texas Wesleyan – 80 points
  4. John Brown – 77 points
  5. Southwestern A.G. – 61 points
  6. Mid-America Christian – 51 points
  7. Southwestern Christian – 51 points
  8. St. Gregory's – 41 points
  9. Bacone – 27 points
  10. Science & Arts – 23 points