Rio women get votes in NAIA poll

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

KANSAS CITY Mo. – The University of Rio Grande was among the schools receiving votes in the 2015 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll released late Tuesday.

The RedStorm received 23 points in the balloting of a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions, tying Kansas Wesleyan for the equivalent of 30th place.

Head coach David Smalley’s squad won 25 games last season and captured the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season title to earn a spot in the NAIA Division II national tournament.

A number of players from last year’s team return for the 2015-16 season, prompting KIAC coaches to tab the RedStorm as the No. 2 pick in both the Colonial Division and overall. The returnees include senior guard/forward Sarah Bonar (11.6 ppg) and junior forward Brooke Marcum (8.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg).

Junior forward Alexis Payne (14.5 ppg) is also among the returnees, but miss the entire after suffering an injury in pre-season workouts.

Rio Grande opens its regular season schedule at home on November 10 against Wilberforce University.

Defending national champion Morningside (Iowa) was the top-ranked team in the poll, receiving all 11 first-place votes and 281 points.

Davenport (Mich.) was second with 264 points. Saint Xavier, Ill. (262 pts.), Concordia, Neb. (259 pts.) and Indiana Wesleyan (243 pts.) round out the top five.

Morningside has the most active Top 25 appearances with 114. College of the Ozarks (Mo.) is just seven behind with 107.

Indiana Wesleyan has the most No. 1 rankings in NAIA history with 33. Morningside is right behind with 22.

Eleven of the 12 conferences are represented in the Top 25 poll. The Chicago Collegiate Athletic Conference, Crossroads League and Great Plains Athletic Conference each have four teams represented.

The KIAC is also represented by No. 22 Asbury (Ky.), which made its way into the Top 25 poll after being out since Jan. 13 of last season.

The first regular-season installment will be released on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing