The Summit League released the annual preseason volleyball coaches' poll on Wednesday with newcomer Omaha picked ninth for its first year of conference play. The poll was conducted with a vote of the league's head coaches.
The Mavericks, in their second year of reclassifying to Division I, enter the 2012 season led by senior outside hitter Natalie Ebke, who averaged 2.99 kills and 2.89 digs per set as a junior. Though nine freshmen make up a primarily young roster, UNO returns five letter winners, including three seniors in Ebke, defensive specialist Amy Roberts and middle blocker Chelsea Snyder.
Two-time defending Summit League champion North Dakota State was selected as the preseason favorite to repeat. The Bison, looking to win their third straight league title and fourth in five years, collected six first-place votes and 62 total points to lead the poll.
Fort Wayne came in second with 58 points and the final three first-place tallies. Oakland and South Dakota State tied for third with 43 points while five points separated IUPUI and South Dakota in fifth and sixth. Rounding out the poll were Kansas City (23 points), Western Illinois (13) and UNO (11).
UNO opens its season on August 24th at the Kristen Dickmann Invitational in Annapolis, Maryland. The Mavericks host their first home match on September 4th against Syracuse and begin league play on September 14th with South Dakota State.