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CLEVELAND -- The Ohio volleyball team has been picked to finish in second place in the East Division in the 2017 Mid-American Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, as voted on by the conference's head coaches, the league office announced on Tuesday (Aug. 22).
The Bobcats picked up one first-place vote and finished with 58 points. Ohio also garnered one vote to win the 2017 MAC tournament title.
The Bobcats return 11 student-athletes from the 2016 squad that won 16 matches overall and 11 in MAC play. Ohio advanced to the conference tournament semifinal for the 15th year in a row.
Lake is back after earning First Team All-MAC honors last year. She ranked third on the team with a career-high 293 kills (2.69 per set) and also ranked second with 50 total blocks (six solo, 44 assisted; 0.46 per set). Kosiorek garnered All-MAC Honorable Mention in 2016 after leading the team with 31 service aces (0.28 per set) and ranking second with a career-high 360 kills (3.21 per set). Her 991 kills rank ninth in the rally scoring era in program history while her 115 service aces are tied for ninth overall in program history and tied for third in the rally scoring era. Junior setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) returns after leading the team and ranking third in the MAC with a career-high 1,065 assists. Redshirt junior middle blocker Katie Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan), junior outside hitter Simone Miller(Kalamazoo, Mich.), redshirt sophomore middle blocker Natalie Burchesky (Canonsburg, Pa.), redshirt sophomore outside hitter Carley Remmers (Filley, Neb.), sophomore libero Meredith Howe (Grand Rapids, Mich.), sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.), sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Frisco, Texas) and sophomore outside hitter/libero Allyson Vaughn (Glenview, Ill.) are also back for Ohio in 2017.
Ohio welcomes four freshmen for 2017 -- middle blocker Dahlias Bouyer (Brownstown, Mich.),setter Vera Giacomazzi(San Vendemiano, Italy), middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) and libero Macy Reihing (Lexington, Ky.). The class received High Honorable Mention from PrepVolleyball.com.
Ohio has gone 64-28 (.696) in three seasons under the direction of head coach Deane Webb -- including 40-8 in the MAC play. The Bobcats won a MAC regular season title with a perfect 16-0 league year in 2014, then captured the conference tournament title in '15.
Miami received a division-high 11 first-place votes and tallied 71 total points to finish first in the MAC East poll. Kent State has been tabbed to finish third with 49 total points. The Golden Flashes garnered one first-place vote. Buffalo (31 points), Bowling Green (29) and Akron (14) rounded out the MAC East poll. Ohio went 8-2 against its division foes in 2016.
Ball State earned the status of MAC West Division favorite with a division-high 61 total points and four first-place votes. Northern Illinois was picked to place second with 57 total points and three first-place votes. Western Michigan was tabbed to take third with 50 total points and three first-place votes. Toledo has been picked to finish fourth with 46 total points and two first-place votes. Central Michigan (26 points) and Eastern Michigan (12 points) rounded out the MAC West poll. Ohio finished 3-3 against the MAC West Division in 2016.
Miami garnered 10 votes to win the MAC regular season crown while Ball State and Western Michigan earned one vote apiece.
The RedHawks have also been selected to win the MAC tournament title with eight votes. Ball State, Kent State and Western Michigan joined Ohio in earning one vote apiece to receive the league's automatic berth to the 2017 NCAA Championship.
Ohio opens the 2017 season in Birmingham, Ala., at the Courtyard By Marriott Invitational next weekend (Aug. 25-26) where it will take on Murray State, host Samford and Southeastern Louisiana. The Bobcats will return to the friendly confines of the Convocation Center Sept. 1-2 to play host to the annual Bobcat Invitational presented by Texas Roadhouse, welcoming Georgia, Oklahoma and High Point to Athens. Ohio's 30-match regular season slate is highlighted by four non-conference tournaments, 12 home matches at the Convocation Center and 16 MAC matchups. Ohio, which has won nine league regular season crowns and three in the last five years, begins its 2017 MAC schedule with a pair of road matches against East Division rivals Buffalo (Sept. 22) and Akron (Sept. 23). The Bobcats will battle five teams that ranked in the top-100 of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) in 2016 and eight 2016 NCAA Championship qualifiers.
Ohio will aim at winning its second MAC Championship title in three years and 10th in program history. The 2017 league tournament will be held Nov. 16-19 at Millett Hall in Oxford, Ohio, by virtue of Miami capturing the 2016 MAC regular season championship. The winner of the 2017 MAC Championship will secure the league's automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Championship.
The 2017 NCAA Championship begins with first and second-round action (Nov. 30-Dec. 2) at campus sites. The regionals will be held Dec. 8-9 at campus sites. The 2017 NCAA Championship will take place at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., with the semifinals being held on Dec. 14 and the title match taking place on Dec. 16. Stanford enters the 2017 season as the defending national champion. The Bobcats are looking to make their 11th trip to the national postseason and second in a row. Ohio is 5-10 (.333) all-time in NCAA Championship play and advanced to a regional semifinal in 2005.
2017 MAC PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
MAC East Division (first place votes) - points
1. Miami (11) - 71
2. Ohio (1) - 58
3. Kent State - 49
4. Buffalo - 31
5. Bowling Green - 29
6. Akron - 14
MAC West Division (first place votes) - points
1. Ball State (4) - 61
2. Northern Illinois (3) - 57
3. Western Michigan (3) - 50
4. Toledo (2) - 46
5. Central Michigan - 26
6. Eastern Michigan - 12
2017 MAC Regular Season Champions: Miami (10), Ball State (1), Western Michigan (1)
2017 MAC Tournament Champions: Miami (8), Ball State (1), Kent State (1), Ohio (1), Western Michigan (1)
2017 Preseason All-MAC East Division Team
Cassie Shado, Buffalo
Kelsey Bittinger, Kent State
Challen Geraghty, Kent State
Maeve McDonald, Miami
Katie Tomasic, Miami
Jaime Kosiorek, Ohio
Ali Lake, Ohio
2017 Preseason All-MAC East Division Team
Brooklyn Goodsel, Ball State
Jordan Bueter, Central Michigan
Meg Wolowicz, Northern Illinois
Maurissa Leonard, Toledo
Rachel Vidourek, Toledo
Sydney LeMay, Western Michigan