BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – Wheeling and West Virginia State have been voted as preseason favorites to win their respective divisions this fall, following a vote of the Mountain East Conference volleyball coaches. Both teams represented the MEC in the NCAA Atlantic Regional last fall.
Wheeling, who won the MEC North Division (15-1) and tournament championship a season ago, is picked to repeat as champion in the north. The Cardinals had 65 points and 10 first-place votes. Wheeling returns four of its top five hitters from a season ago, including kills leader Mady Winters, and the Cardinals also welcome back setter Karly Niesen in 2022. However, the Cardinals will have to replace the production of libero Audrey Francis, a five-time MEC Libero of the Year honoree (including COVID shortened season in spring 2021). Wheeling advanced to the NCAA Atlantic Region final a season ago.
West Liberty is picked second in the division for this fall, garnering 51 points and two first-place votes. Fairmont State (50 points) finished one vote behind West Liberty to take the No. 3 spot in the north, followed by Frostburg State (33), Notre Dame (31) and Alderson Broaddus (16).
West Virginia State was tabbed as the favorite in the South Division, although two other teams received first-place votes in the poll. WVSU collected 63 points and eight first-place votes. The Yellow Jackets claimed the MEC South Division a season ago, before also advancing to the MEC Tournament Championship match and the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. The 2021 NCAA Tournament berth was the first since 2008 for the Yellow Jackets. WVSU returns its top middle (Grace Martin), setter (Kiersten Eggleton) and libero (Alex Darby) this fall but must replace two-time MEC Player of the Year Jenna Dufresne on the outside.
Charleston was next with 55 points and had three first-place votes. Davis & Elkins was picked third with 50 points and had the remaining first-place vote. Concord (28), Glenville State (27) and West Virginia Wesleyan (23) completed the poll.
The regular season gets underway on Thursday, Aug. 25.
2022 MEC Volleyball Preseason Poll
MEC North Division
1. Wheeling – 65 (10)
2. West Liberty – 51 (2)
3. Fairmont State – 50
4. Frostburg State – 33
5. Notre Dame College – 31
6. Alderson Broaddus – 16
MEC South Division
1. West Virginia State – 63 (8)
2. Charleston – 55 (3)
3. Davis & Elkins – 50 (1)
4. Concord – 28
5. Glenville State – 27
6. W.Va. Wesleyan – 23
( ) Indicates first-place votes
* Coaches not permitted to vote for own team