OGDEN, Utah- The University of North Dakota volleyball team was picked to finish fourth in the 2012 Big Sky Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, released today by league officials. Reigning BSC champion Northern Colorado topped the poll with 99 total points with nine of a possible 10 first-place votes (coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams). Portland State grabbed a first-place vote and had 88 total points to place second. UND had the lone other first-place nod, tallying 70 points, one point behind third-place Eastern Washington.
"The top three teams in the conference all return a lot of key players," UND head coach Ashley Hardee said. "We're young but we're definitely deserving of being in that top four. We're focused on qualifying for the Big Sky tournament and proving ourselves at the end of the year."
UND is entering its first season in the Big Sky after three very successful seasons competing in the Great West Conference. North Dakota claimed two regular season GWC championships and won all three postseason tournament titles.
Montana and Sacramento State were bunched tightly with the Grizzlies slipping into fifth with 62 points and the Hornets one point behind in sixth. Idaho State claimed the seventh spot with 48 points while Northern Arizona (33) and Southern Utah (30) were eighth and ninth, respectively. Weber State (24) and Montana State (19) rounded out the poll.
The Big Sky Conference tournament will be held Nov. 23-24 in Greeley, Colo. on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado, last season's tournament champion. The tournament will expand to six teams with quarterfinals and semifinals being played on Friday, and the championship on Saturday. The post-season tournament champion will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
2012 Big Sky Conference Preseason Volleyball Coaches Poll
|Team||Pts (1st place votes)|
|1. Northern Colorado||99 (9)|
|2. Portland State||88 (1)|
|3. Eastern Washington||71|
|4. North Dakota||70 (1)|
|6. Sacramento State||61|
|7. Idaho State||48|
|8. Northern Arizona||33|
|9. Southern Utah||30|
|10. Weber State||24|
|11. Montana State||19|