Nicholas Robinson, Director of Sports Information
OKLAHOMA CITY – The John Brown University volleyball team was picked to finish third in the Sooner Athletic Conference, per the release of the 2018 SAC Volleyball Coaches Preseason Poll by the league office on Tuesday afternoon.
The Golden Eagles finished just six points behind predicted co-champions, Oklahoma City and Southwestern A.G. (Texas). John Brown garnered the only first place vote not cast for either City or SAGU. Both the Stars and Lions each earned 101 points apiece, including five first-place votes.
After divisional play lasted only a year, the Sooner Athletic will revert back to a double round robin format where each team will face every opponent in a home-and-home matchup. The Golden Eagles finished the 2017 season with a 26-7 record, including a tie for third place finish, with Texas Wesleyan, boasting a 13-3 mark in conference play. Last year, JBU was predicted to finish fourth in the conference.
Oklahoma City has won the past two SAC regular season and tournament titles. The Stars hold the top spot in the preseason poll for the third year in a row. Southwestern Assemblies of God comes off setting a single-season program record for victories (30). Both teams collected 101 points and five first-place votes in the poll of conference coaches. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Texas Wesleyan came in fourth with 82 points, while Wayland Baptist (Texas) took fifth with 81 points. League coaches placed Southwestern Christian (Okla.) at sixth place followed by Mid-America Christian (Okla.) in seventh. Oklahoma Panhandle State stood in eighth place, while Central Christian (Kan.) held ninth. The remaining spots were held by first-year SAC member Langston, Science & Arts (Okla.) and Bacone (Okla.), respectively.
2018 SAC Volleyball Coaches’ Preseason Poll
|No.||School (First-place votes)||Points|
|T1||Oklahoma City (5)||101|
|T1||Southwestern A.G. (Texas) (5)||101|
|3||John Brown (Ark.) (1)||95|
|5||Wayland Baptist (Texas)||81|
|7||Mid-America Christian (Okla.)||52|
|8||Oklahoma Panhandle State||50|
|11||Science & Arts (Okla.)||25|
The Golden Eagles return eight letterwinners from last year squad, while featuring four newcomers – three freshmen and a transfer.
Leading the way at the net this year will be returning All-SAC First Teamer and conference Hitter of the Year Jessica Meyer. The junior middle hitter led the Golden Eagles offensively last season, collecting 325 kills at 2.9 kills per set, while hitting .349, pacing the SAC overall and improved to .378 in conference play. The returning NAIA All-America honorable mention also offered the team lead in defense at the net, posting 102 total blocks (20 solo, 82 assisted) and nearly averaging a full block per set. Also at the net is Meyer’s fellow junior middle hitter Lindsey Davis. Davis combined with Meyer to morph into one of the SAC’s most formidable duo at the net as she contributed 211 terminations and hit .236 on the season. Returning senior Bayli Reagan will look to improve her hitting percentage while maintaining her output at 300 kills last season, third-most on the squad.
John Brown suffers a few difficult losses in 2018 as All-Conference selections Alyssa Arnold and Beth Brankle to graduation. Junior setter Elizabeth Williams will look to return to form after an injury-plagued 2017, despite posting 4.4 assists per set. Brankle’s departing is difficult at defensive specialist, but returning senior Bailey Sager averaged 2.1 digs per set in 108 set appearances.
The biggest loss will be All-Conference second team selection, junior Carly McKinney. McKinney will redshirt this season due to an offseason injury.
The Golden Eagles open the 2018 campaign in Orange City, Iowa at the Northwestern (Iowa) Red Raider Classic on Aug. 24-25. After the season-opening tournament, the John Brown will hit the road for four consecutive SAC matches before finally returning to Siloam Springs for back-to-back home contests with Wayland Baptist (Texas) and Oklahoma Panhandle State from Sept. 14-15.