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Volleyball Picked Fourth in Summit League Preseason Poll; Milos Tabbed Player to Watch

Volleyball Picked Fourth in Summit League Preseason Poll; Milos Tabbed Player to Watch

ELMHURST, Ill. – The Denver volleyball team has been voted the 2016 Summit League preseason favorite, according to a poll of the league's nine head coaches. Denver, collecting eight of nine first-place votes, has won the last two regular-season and tournament titles.

North Dakota State finished second in the poll with 52 total points while IUPUI claimed the final first-place tally, placing third. With 44 points, Oral Roberts came in fourth with South Dakota (39 points) in fifth and Omaha (27 points) in sixth. Fort Wayne, South Dakota State and Western Illinois round out the preseason poll.


2016 Summit League Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll



Points (1st)

2015 Record (SL)



64 (8)

27-8 (13-3)


North Dakota State


19-12 (10-6)



48 (1)

21-10 (12-4)


Oral Roberts


14-16 (8-8)


South Dakota


15-16 (8-8)




19-13 (12-4)


Fort Wayne


7-25 (4-12)


South Dakota State


5-27 (4-12)


Western Illinois


3-28 (1-15)


#SummitVB Preseason Notes

  • Denver retains three all-league selections from a year ago – Kayla Principato (first team), Cassie Baird (honorable mention) and Becca Latham (all-freshman). The Pioneers also bring back Ruth Okoye, who was named Summit League tournament MVP in 2015 and libero Cassidy Rooke, who led the league in total digs last season.  
  • NDSU will be without just one starter from a season ago while keeping two all-league honorable mention honorees in Emily Minnick and Emily Miron. Minnick and Miron finished second and third, respectively, on the Bison in both total kills and kills per set in 2015.
  • IUPUI returns four starters from last season's team that finished second in the league standings, including All-Summit League opposite Kori Waelbroeck. The junior was second on the Jaguars in both kills and kills per set last season.
  • Oral Roberts returns a pair of All-Summit League selections in junior setter Lucija Bojanjac and junior outside hitter Laura Milos. Bojanjac finished second in the league in assists per set (10.71) while Milos was best in The Summit League in total kills (583) and kills per set (5.07). Milos is currently the league's all-time leader at 4.72 kills per set.
  • South Dakota possesses 2015 Setter of the Year Brittany Jessen, who was the league leader with 10.77 assists per set. Along with Jessen, the Coyotes bring back Audrey Reeg who was named to the All-Summit League team last year.
  • Omaha, coming off its first postseason tournament in which it reached the league championship match, keeps all-league junior setter Sydney O'Shaughnessy who tallied 10.25 assists per set last season.
  • 2015 Freshman of the Year Nicole Rightnowar returns for her sophomore season for Fort Wayne. The Mastodons will also feature senior libero Olivia Hahn, who was the league leader in digs per set (4.78).
  • South Dakota State all-freshman setter Mattison Munger enters her sophomore season after leading the Jacks in assists and assists per set.
  • Western Illinois retains its leaders in assists (Abby Skryd) and digs (Kaili Simmons) for head coach Kelly Richardson's second season.

#SummitVB Schedule Notes

  • The 2016 season officially begins Aug. 26 with the league schedule beginning Sept. 23.
  • The season-opening weekend slate will feature Summit League teams facing off against 17 different conferences, including three Power 5 conferences (Big Ten, Big 12, SEC).
  • NDSU faces No. 25 Colorado State while Denver squares off with Michigan State, who is receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 poll. Both CSU and MSU qualified for the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
  • In total, Summit League teams will go up against 15 teams that participated in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. IUPUI will face the most such teams (4) – Dayton, Marquette, Ohio State and Wichita State.
  • Omaha will host Denver on Sept. 24 in a rematch of last season's five-set championship match. The Mavs will head to the Mile High City on Nov. 8.
  • The top six regular-season finishers will qualify for The Summit League Volleyball Championship, hosted by the University of Denver, Nov. 18-20.

Players to Watch

Ruth Okoye, Denver - MB, Sr.
- 2015 Summit League Tournament MVP
- Fourth in Summit League with 127 total blocks last season
- Played in 126 of 128 sets for the Pioneers in 2015

Kayla Principato, Denver - OPP, Jr.
- 2015 All-Summit League Selection
- Named to 2015 Summit League All-Tournament Team
- Led DU in both kills (323) and kills per set (2.52)

Somer Johnson - OH, Sr.
- 2015 Summit League Honorable Mention honors
- Named Summit League Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 12 last season
- Third in league in kills, kills per set, points and points per set in 2015

Nicole Rightnowar, Fort Wayne - OH, So.
- 2015 Summit League Freshman of the Year
- Named to Summit League All-Freshman Team
- Second on her team with 337 kills

Kori Waelbroeck, IUPUI - OPP, Jr.
- 2015 All-Summit League selection
- Selected to Summit League All-Tournament Team in 2015
- Finished second on the Jags with 2.37 kps and a .317 hitting percentage

Emily Minnick, North Dakota State - MB, Sr.
- Honorable Mention All-Summit League
- Finished fifth in the league with a .328 hitting percentage
- Led NDSU with 87 blocks last season

Sydney O'Shaughnessy, Omaha - S, Jr.
- 2015 All-Summit League honoree
- Third in the league with 10.25 assists per set and 36 service aces
- Ended the season with most assists in the league with 1,271

Laura Milos, Oral Roberts - OH, Jr.
- 2015 First Team AVCA All-Midwest Region and First Team All-Summit League
- Set single-match record with 12 service aces vs. SDSU last season
- Named Summit League Offensive Player of the Week a record-tying five times last season

Brittany Jessen, South Dakota - S, Jr.
- 2015 Summit League Setter of the Year
- Named to All-Summit League team
- First in Summit League with 10.77 assists per set and second in total assists with 1,260

Audrey Reeg, South Dakota - OH, Sr.
- Named to 2015 All-Summit League Team and All-Tournament Team
- Led Coyotes and was fourth in league with 426 kills and 3.64 kps
- Selected to Summit League Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence

Ashley Beaner, South Dakota State - OPP, Sr.
- Named to Summit League Academic Honor Roll in 2015
- Led SDSU in kills per set (2.44) and was second in kills (261) and hitting percentage (.237)
- Started 29 of 32 matches for the Jacks last season

Shalyn Greenhaw, Western Illinois - OH, Jr.
- Played her first two seasons at Illinois State
- Appeared in 49 career sets for the Redbirds
- Tallied 37 kills, 15 total blocks and 14 digs in two seasons at Illinois State

Note: Players to Watch selected by league's head coaches

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