The Minnesota Crookston volleyball team was picked to finish 11th by the league coaches in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Preseason Poll released by the conference office Thursday morning.
The Golden Eagles received 90 points in the poll, just five behind Upper Iowa, the team picked to finish tenth in the standings. UMC finished 11th in the league last season after being picked to finish 11th in the 2012 NSIC Preseason poll.
Concordia, St. Paul, who has won the past six NCAA Division II National Championships, was picked to finish first in the league with 225 points and 15 first-place votes. Minnesota Duluth, who made it to the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament in 2012, received one first-place vote and received 209 points. Southwest Minnesota State was picked third while Wayne State was picked to finish fourth. The NSIC, historically one of the best NCAA Division II volleyball conferences, sent four teams to the national tournament last season including Concordia-St. Paul, UMD, SMSU and Wayne State.
Chelsea Wiesner (Sr., Lib., Rochester, Minn.) was picked as UMC’s Player to Watch. Wiesner will come into 2013 as one of the top returning liberos in the NSIC. Wiesner averaged 4.86 digs per contest last season en route to 442 overall digs. Wiesner is on pace to become the all-time leader in digs in Golden Eagle history, which she should accomplish early in the season. Wiesner needs just 91 digs to surpass Jaclyn Slepicka as the all-time digs leader. She is currently third in school history and needs just 43 digs to move past Joan Ebnet in second place. Wiesner will lead a group of six seniors for the Golden Eagles as they head into the 2013 campaign. In addition to digs, Wiesner was among the team leaders in service aces with 30 last season.
Minnesota Duluth’s Kate Lange, a two-time AVCA First Team All-American selection at outside hitter for the Bulldogs, was selected as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year.
The Golden Eagles return six-of-seven starters from a season ago led by Wiesner and 2012 All-NSIC Second Team pick Brittany Looker (Jr., OH, Rochester, Minn.). Also returning are seniors setter Paige Mitchell (West Palm Beach, Fla.), middle hitter Katie Miedtke (Maple Grove, Minn.) and outside hitter Alexandra Skeeter (Milwaukee, Wis.). Junior middle hitter Morgan VanGerpen (Overland Park, Kan.) also returns as a starter. Senior setter Lindsey Rees (Bronson, Mich.) also returns after seeing a lot of playing time last season. The Golden Eagles return three other letter winners that saw the floor last season and add seven newcomers to the roster for 2013.