OGDEN, Utah-- Defending regular-season league champion Portland State took home top honors in the 2013 Big Sky Conference Preseason Coaches Poll released today by conference officials. North Dakota finished fourth in the poll, just one point shy of 2012 Big Sky Tournament champion Northern Colorado. The votes were comprised of each of the 11 league coaches ranking the league schools with the exception of their own team.
The Vikings grabbed seven of the 11 first-place votes up for grabs to finish with a league-best 95 points. Idaho State (83 points) earned a pair of top votes to finish runner-up with UNC and UND neck-and-neck with 75 and 74 points, respectively. Northern Arizona grabbed the other two first-place nods to take fifth in the poll (59).
Eastern Washington (56) was sixth, Sacramento State seventh (49) and Montana State, who qualified as the sixth and final team into the postseason conference tournament a year ago, took eighth in the preseason predictions. Southern Utah (28), Weber State (26) and Montana (23) rounded out the poll.
UND finished 15-17 overall and 10-10 in league play a year ago to earn the fifth seed in the Big Sky Conference Tournament in the school's first season in the league. North Dakota returns nearly its entire roster from a season ago, including every starter. Senior Ronni Munkeby was a Second Team All-Big Sky performer last year and junior Lexi Robinson earned honorable mention accolades.
North Dakota welcomes its loftiest field for its annual home tournament to start the season. No. 15 Iowa State and Texas A&M (receiving votes) both appear in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Coaches Poll with rival South Dakota State rounding out an impressive field. The UND Classic begins Friday, Aug. 30 and runs through the 31st.
|2013 Big Sky Conference Preseason Coaches Poll|
|1. Portland State||95 (7)|
|2. Idaho State||83 (2)|
|3. No. Colorado||75|
|4. North Dakota||74|
|5. Northern Arizona||59 (2)|
|6. Eastern Wash.||56|
|7. Sacramento State||49|
|8. Montana State||37|
|9. Southern Utah||28|
|10. Weber State||26|
|(Number of first place votes in parenthesis)|