EIU Players Earn Preseason OVC Volleyball Recognition

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Published on August 14 2014 8:57 am
Last Updated on August 25 2014 12:43 pm
Written by Millie Lange

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. -- Having just begun preseason workouts in anticipation for the 2014 campaign, the Eastern Illinois volleyball squad has already landed a pair of players – Marah Bradbury and Chelsea Lee – to preseason Ohio Valley Conference recognition, as announced by the league office.
 
The pair of honors marks the third consecutive season that at least two Panthers have earned a spot on the preseason squad, as Bradbury (Decatur, Ind.) automatically earned the honor following her All-OVC kudos last fall, while the preseason award is a career first for Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wis).
 
Team-wise, the Panthers have been projected to finish second overall in the 12-team league this season, as EIU nabbed five first place votes in the preseason voting by head coaches and sports information directors.  Eastern posted a 18-12 overall mark and went 12-4 in the OVC last fall to finish in a tie for second place overall.
 
As the four-time defending regular-season champion, the Eagles of Morehead State picked up 15 first-place and 228 points to earn preseason favorites, followed by the Panthers in second with 210 points.  Belmont registered two first-place votes for 185 points for a third place predicted finish, while Austin Peay and SIUE earned the final first-place nods and respective 169 and 156 points to be selected to finish fourth and sixth. Complete preseason poll is located at the bottom of the release.

EIU skipper Kate Price, who was named as the 2013 OVC 'Coach of the Year', enters her fifth year as the head coach of the Panthers and will have four starters among 10 returning letter winners back in action from last year's team.  Juniors Bradbury and Lee are set to lead at the respective setter and outside hitter/middle blocker positions.
 
Bradbury dished out 1,304 assists to lead the league with an 11.15 per set average last season, while also recording 109 kills and 292 digs.  After recording 15 double-doubles last year, Bradbury enters the 2014 season with 22 for her career.  She has also garnered eight all-time OVC 'Setter of the Week' awards during her Panther career.
 
As a team last fall, the Panthers owned the best hitting, kills and assist tally in the entire OVC, and owned the lone undefeated home mark in the conference at 8-0.
 
Meanwhile, Lee had a standout sophomore season in 2014, as she finished second on the team in kills with 356 to rank seventh in the OVC with a 3.18 per set average. She also posted a .265 hitting percentage and chipped in 111 digs. She also earned her first career OVC 'Player of the Week' honor and was named to the Drake Bulldog Invitational All-Tourney unit in addition to adding her name to the OVC Top 10 for hitting % and points.
 
"I think being picked second means a lot and gives us a lot of confidence going into the season," said Bradbury, "and should help us to come out strong and show everyone what we can do this year."
 
Lee agreed with Bradbury about being picked high in the preseason.  "It's a real honor to be picked second in the preseason, but it will only motivate us more to finish the year on top."
 
Senior Kelsey Brooke and junior Stephanie Wallace will also return in their respective starting roles as serving/defensive specialist and libero this season.
 
Other returning letter winners for the Panthers this season include seniors Katie Kirby (OH),Kelsey Roggemann (MB) and Dakota Springer (DS); plus juniors Kayla Nesbitt (OH), Abby Saalfrank (RS/S), and redshirt freshman Josie Winner (MH).
 
Three newcomers – Maria Brown (OH), Allie Hueston (MH), and Kayli Trausch (MB) – will also look to make an immediate impact this season.
 
As is the case each season, the main goal of the 2014 Panthers will be to make a return trip to the end-of-season league tournament – hosted by the regular-season champion in late November – with eight teams battling it out for a chance to represent the league in NCAA Regional play.
 
The current EIU squad will continue preseason workouts up through the start of classes on May 25.  The Panthers open the 2014 campaign at the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge on August 29-30 in Muncie, Ind., which will mark the first of four consecutive non-conference tournaments.  Eastern is set to face Northern Colorado, Western Illinois and the host Cardinals.
 
Following additional play at the WIU Invitational (Sep. 5-6), SDSU Challenge (Sep. 12-13) and Penn State Alumni Classic (Sep. 19-20), Eastern will begin a 16-match OVC schedule in late September on the road.  The first of eight home league matches then begins on Wed., October 1 against instate arch-rival SIU Edwardsville.
 
2014 PRESEASON ALL-OVC VOLLEYBALL TEAM

... as voted on by league head coaches/SIDs
 
* Marah Bradbury … EIU … S … Jr … 5-10 … Decatur, Ind.
* Naomi Wells … TSU … OH/OPP … R-Sr … 5-8 … Huntsville, Ala.
Alyssa Lelm … MUR … MB … Jr … 5-10 … Mackinaw, Ill.
Chelsea Lee … EIU … OH/MB … Jr … 5-10 … Menomonee Falls, Wis.
Laura McDermott … MOR … MB … R-Sr … 6-1 … Westfield Center, Ohio
Alex Martin … BEL … MB … Sr … 6-0 … Ooltewah, Tenn.
Chelsea Colclasure … SIUE … DS … Sr … 5-3 … Decatur, Ind.
Jada Stotts … APSU … OH … Sr … 5-11 … Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Taylor Masterson … SEMO … MB … Jr … 6-2 … Chesterfield, Mo.
Mallory Mangun … SIUE … S … So … 5-7 … Joliet, Ill.
Alexis Plagens … EKU … OH … Sr … 5-10 … Strongsville, Ohio
# Alex Fitzmorris … MOR … RS … R-Sr … 6-5 … Overland Park, Kan.
# Arijana Anderson … TSU … OH/OPP … So … 6-0 … Muncie, Ind.
Colbey Cameron … MOR … S … Sr … 5-10 … Prospect, Ky.
 
*-All-OVC in 2013; #-All-Newcomer in 2013
 
 
2014 OVC VOLLEYBALL PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

... as voted on by league head coaches/SIDs ... first-place votes in parenthesis & total poll points
 
1. Morehead State (15) … 228
2. Eastern Illinois (5) … 210
3. Belmont (2) … 185
4. Austin Peay (1) … 169
5. Eastern Kentucky … 165
6. SIU Edwardsville (1) … 156
7. Southeast Missouri … 147
8. Tennessee State … 92
9. Murray State … 88
10. Jacksonville State … 58
11. UT Martin … 53
12. Tennessee Tech … 33