WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Midwestern State ranked 14th in the American Football Coaches' Association Preseason Division II Poll released Monday afternoon.
The Mustangs, who finished its Lone Star Conference best 16th consecutive winning campaign with a 10-2 mark last season, were picked second behind Texas A&M-Commerce in the Lone Star Conference preseason poll last month.
MSU claimed the league's playoff championship while advancing to the NCAA playoffs for the sixth time in program history as the top seed in Super Region Four.
Midwestern is one of 16 teams from a competitive Super Region Four to receive mention in the poll joining No. 3 Grand Valley State (Mich.), No. 5 Colorado State-Pueblo, No. 6 Ashland (Ohio), No. 9 Texas A&M-Commerce, No. 12 Ferris State (Mich.), No. 16 Indianapolis (Ind.) and No. 18 Colorado Mines.
Colorado Mesa, Angelo State (Texas), Michigan Tech, West Texas A&M, Saginaw Valley State (Mich.), Ohio Dominican, Texas A&M-Kingsville and McKendree (Ill.) are all receiving votes.
Defending national champion Northwest Missouri State tops the poll receiving 29 of the 30 first-place votes as No. 2 West Georgia picked the other No. 1 vote. Shepherd (W. Va.) is the only other team in the top six hailing from outside of Super Region Four.
Midwestern State kicks off the 2016 season on Saturday, Sept. 3 at Truman State in Kirksville, Mo. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Midwestern State volleyball was tabbed 10th in the Lone Star Conference Preseason Poll as selected by the league's 11 head coaches, sports information directors and selected media from across the region Monday afternoon.
Angelo State, who claimed the 2015 LSC Tournament title, was picked as the preseason favorite with 301 points and 13 first-place votes. Tarleton State, last season's regular season champion, was selected second in the poll after receiving 291 points and 12 first-place votes.
Texas Woman's (239) was picked third while West Texas A&M (206) garnered the remaining four first-place votes for fourth in the poll. Texas A&M-Kingsville (184), Western New Mexico (176), Cameron (158), Texas A&M-Commerce (154), Eastern New Mexico (99), Midwestern State (61) and UT Permian Basin (45) rounded out the poll.
The Mustangs return four starters from a season ago including All-LSC Honorable Mention selection Kiley Beaver. The sophomore middle blocker out of Rider High led the Maroon and Gold with a .239 hitting percentage while registering 235 kills (2.01/set) and a team-best 87 blocks (0.74/set) in 2015.
Midwestern also returns junior outside hitter Meghan Bettis, who paced the Mustangs with 263 kills (2.53/set) in 2015. Junior middle blocker Addison Semer (1.79 kills/set, 0.67 blocks/set) and sophomore middle blocker Olivia Schiffner (2.16 kills/set, 0.68 blocks/set) also return off the 2015 starting lineup.
Junior right side hitter Sarah Garfield makes her return to the hardwood this season after receiving a medical redshirt in 2015. The Wichita Falls native and former Holliday star captured All-LSC Second Team accolades as a sophomore in 2014 after leading MSU with 250 kills (2.16/set) and 113 blocks (0.97/set), recording the 10th-highest single-season block total in program history.
Setters Kristan Aduddell and Christy Carruth also make their return to the roster in 2016. Aduddell lettered two seasons for the Maroon and Gold during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, becoming the 10th player in MSU history to amass over 1,000 career assists. Carruth rejoins the Mustangs for her sophomore campaign after appearing in 20 matches as a true freshman in 2014.
Rounding out the Midwestern returners this season will be junior defensive specialist Leah Lychock (1.84 digs/set) and sophomore setter Ellie Gunderson (3.18 assists/set).
The Mustangs roster also features freshman defensive specialist Sabrina Angeles and junior outside hitter Aerielle Edwards, who both redshirted the 2015 season.
Second-year head coach Natalie Rawson bolstered her squad for the 2016 season with four newcomers looking to help the Mustangs climb the LSC standings.
Sophomore defensive specialist Khailia Griffin (DeSoto, Texas / DeSoto HS) returns to the Lone Star State for her second collegiate season following one year at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tenn., leading the Lady Magicians with 201 digs (3.72/set) as a freshman.
Middle blocker Kassidy Oberhelman (McKinney, Texas / North HS), setter Sarah Glawe (Allen, Texas / Allen HS) and outside hitter Erin Richburg (Rowlett, Texas / Sachse HS) complete the Mustangs roster as true freshmen.
Midwestern State opens the 2016 season Friday, Sept. 2 at the two-day Washburn Invitational in Topeka, Kan. The Mustangs will begin their home slate the following weekend inside D.L. Ligon Coliseum with the MSU Hampton Inn-Vitational on Sept. 9-10.