ST. LOUIS — It’s unanimous.
The University of Northern Iowa volleyball team picked up all 10 first-place votes from the league’s coaches and is the overwhelming favorite to repeat as the Missouri Valley Conference champion this season.
The Panthers went 24-10 overall and 16-2 in MVC matches a year ago and return five starters. Setter Rachel Koop and outside hitter Karlie Taylor, both seniors who were first-team all-conference last season, were named to the preseason all-conference team.
Taylor averaged an MVC-best 4.77 kills per set and added 3.2 digs per set last fall. Koop led the league with an 11.97 assists-per-set average.
Also back are middle hitter Kate Busswitz and outside hitter Jaydlin Seehase, both second-team all-MVC picks a year ago, along with veterans Taylor Hedges, Baylee Petersen, Inga Rotto and Abbi Staack.
Illinois State is second in the preseason poll. Drake came in sixth.