Basketball fever continues to get just a little hotter at Midwestern State.
The Mustangs added another preseason ranking to its resume Tuesday after being picked 12th in the 2013-14 Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25.
MSU, which was ranked 8th in The Sporting News Division II Preseason Top 10 last month, is coming off a fifth straight NCAA Division II national tournament appearance reaching the Elite Eight in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The Mustangs, who claimed their seventh Lone Star Conference championship last season after rolling to a 22-9 record, return four starters buoyed by the injection of guard JaMichael Rivers, who averaged 10.5 points and 3.2 rebounds for MSU's 2012 Elite Eight squad. The senior, who sat out last season, garnered Preseason All-America mention from The Sporting News.
Another member of the Mustangs' Elite Eight run of 2012 returns in senior guard DeJuan Plummer, who averaged 5.5 points in 33 games two seasons ago, while Derek Kaster (6.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and redshirt freshman Patrick Smith also return from last season's roster which produced a 22-9 mark, a Lone Star Conference title and a trip to the NCAA Division II South Central Region semifinals.
A strong group of transfers buoys the roster including Kevin Wagner (McLennan CC/Texas Tech), Tavarion Nix (Redlands CC), Xavier Blackburn (North Dakota State), Abiodun Adegoke (Western Texas) and DeVaughn Jones (Lackawanna).
A quartet of freshmen fills out the strong recruiting class consisting of Devante Pullum (Little Elm HS), Michael Ashiofu (Elsik HS), Nick Powell (Henrietta HS) and Cory Bennett (Iowa Park HS).
Midwestern State joins four other teams from the South Central Region including defending champ Metro State (Colo.) at No. 1 and rival Tarleton State at No. 24. Cameron (Okla.) and Fort Lewis (Colo.) are listed under others to watch.
Cameron senior guard Craig Foster is the publication's preseason player of the year and is joined by Fort Lewis junior forward Alex Herrera on D2Bulletin's Super 16 selections.
Midwestern State opens the season at the SWOSU Classic in Weatherford, Okla. on Nov. 8-9 battling former conference foes Southwestern Oklahoma State and East Central (Okla.).
The Mustangs are under the dome for a pair of exhibition tilts against Mid-America Christian (Okla.) on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. and versus Langston (Okla.) on Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.
2013-14 Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25
Midwestern State battled its way to a second-straight win Tuesday night outlasting Southern Nazarene 25-22, 23-25, 25-19, 19-25, 16-14 at Sawyer Center in Bethany, OK.
The Mustangs improved to 9-7 on the season and will return to Lone Star Conference play Saturday afternoon at Texas A&M-Kingsville. First serve at Steinke Center is set for 1 p.m.
Sophomore outside hitter Nicole Marzik led a pack of three MSU attackers posting double figure kills with 14 while completing her second double-double of the season with 18 digs.
Senior middle blocker Caitlin Wallace added 11 kills and three blocks while senior outside hitter Marija Jovanovic had 11 kills of her own.
None of it came easy for the Mustangs as Southern Nazarene was big at the net, posting 20 total team blocks including nine each from Taylor Jacobs and Emily Dick while Jamie added eight more.
The Crimson Storm (12-6) posted 12 of their 20 blocks in its winning sets -- the second and fourth frames -- in what turned into a defensive slugfest.
Midwestern sparkled on the back row with six players posted 10-or-more digs paced by junior libero Casey Fletcher with 29, but had plenty of helping arms including Marzik (18), freshman setter Sarah Rosinke (13), sophomore Marissa Olivares (12), redshirt freshman Madelyn Johnson (11) and freshman Alyssa Fulgium (10).
Southern Nazarene proved just as formidable with libero Abbey Bell led a group of five double-figure dig efforts with a match-high 34.
The Mustangs finally put away the match using a 6-0 spurt fueled by Johnson's service game to take a 12-9 lead then held on to win on consecutive kills by freshman Cody Moore and senior Beatriz Villalba in the decisive fifth set.
Jacobs paced the Southern Nazarene attack with a match-high 20 kills to go along with 10 digs and nine blocks, but the Crimson Storm's five-match winning streak came to an end.
Midwestern State's Sarah Rosinke garnered Lone Star Conference Setter of the Week honors Tuesday when league officials announced weekly awards.
The 5-10 freshman paced the Mustangs with 18 assists with four service aces to help the team snap a six-match skid with a sweep of Cameron Saturday in Lawton.
Rosinke piloted MSU to a .220 team attack percentage after missing the previous five matches due to injury.
The Mustangs boast an 8-2 mark with the League City, Texas native in the lineup while hitting .200 or better in eight of her 10 appearances.
West Texas A&M junior Lauren Bevan and Texas A&M-Kingsville senior Kelsey Washington earned top offensive honors, while West Texas A&M senior Laura Iwuchukwu and Texas A&M-Kingsville junior Stephanie Johns garnered defensive accolades.
Tarleton State's Danielle Barker was also tabbed setter of the week.
Midwestern State hits the road for a pair of matches this week taking on Southern Nazarene Tuesday in Bethany, Okla. before returning to LSC play Saturday at Texas A&M-Kingsville.
The Midwestern State Mustangs made a great run, but were held off by Colorado State-Pueblo and finished second at the West Texas A&M Lady Buff Stampede on Tuesday.
The Mustangs posted a 322 in a strong wind at the final round at the Tascosa Golf Club for a final total of 635, while CSU-Pueblo put up a 328 to edge out MSU with a 633. Host West Texas A&M was third at 643 and Rogers State (Okla.) fourth at 645 in the 17 team tournament.
Junior Brenna Moore of Burkburnett led the Mustangs, finishing in a fourth place tie after a 78 in the final round that was the second lowest score of the day. Moore finished at 9-over-par 153, three strokes behind tournament winner Julie Sanchez of CSU-Pueblo at 6-over 150.
"The wind really picked up blowing up to 40 miles an hour and it got tough quick," said MSU Coach Jeff Ray. "Give the girls credit. They did a great job it tough conditions and kept their concentration."
"We struggled a bit on the greens again, but from tee to green we did well," Ray added. "We were right there and had a shot. I guess I want to be greedy and win it."
Freshman Haley Dambold fired an 80 to finish at 159 to tie for 10th, while freshman Sierra Campbell recorded an 82 for a 161 to tie for 18th. Freshman Kellie Martin also had an 82 to finish 22nd at 162, while Madison Smith put up an 86 for a 171.
Playing as an individual, Kynze Mann shot an 80 to finish at 164.
"The way the wind was blowing an 82 was not a bad score today," said Ray.
The Mustangs are in action again next Monday and Tuesday at the Dallas Baptist Golf Classic at the Golf Club of Dallas.