MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande has been picked sixth in the 2021 River States Conference Volleyball Coaches’ Preseason Poll released Monday night.
The RedStorm received 92 points in the balloting of the league’s 13 head coaches.
Head coach Billina Donaldson’s squad finished 9-6 overall and 5-4 in the RSC last season after a loss to Midway University in the quarterfinal round of the RSC Championship.
Among the returnees for Rio are junior middle hitter Jess Youse (Pettisville, OH) and freshman outside hitter Amanda Rarick (Canal Winchester, OH).
Youse, a first team All-RSC pick last year, led the league and ranked 18th nationally with 69 blocks, while finishing second in the league with a .305 hitting percentage and fifth in kills with 153.
Rarick, who made the all-conference second team, was third in the league with 176 kills and ranked fifth with a .250 hitting percentage.
Indiana University Kokomo was the unanimous favorite in the poll. The Cougars got the maximum of 12 first-place votes in the poll and 144 overall points.
IU Kokomo was 24-6 overall and 13-0 in the RSC last year en route to its third straight RSC Volleyball Championship. The Cougars have won five of the past six conference titles and ended last year ranked No. 17 in the NAIA Top 25 Poll after going 1-1 at the final site in Sioux City, Iowa.
Indiana University East was picked second in the RSC preseason poll with 133 points. The Red Wolves (13-5, 10-0 RSC) were the consensus runner-up in this preseason and the RSC East Division favorite after being in the same spots at the end of last year.
Midway (Ky.) University came in third in the preseason poll with 118 points. The Eagles are coming off a season of 17-7 overall, 11-5 RSC and second place in the RSC West Division behind IU Kokomo.
IU Southeast was picked fourth with 110 votes to make it three teams from the division in the top four overall. The Grenadiers were 10-9, 9-5 RSC last year.
The next three teams in the poll were all from the RSC East with WVU Tech (94 votes) picked fifth overall, Rio Grande sixth and Point Park (Pa.) University (72 votes) seventh. With the top four teams in each division making the RSC postseason, Brescia (Ky.) University was predicted as the final playoff team and came in eighth overall with 64 votes.
RSC volleyball welcomes two new teams this season with new conference members St. Mary-of-the-Woods (Ind.) and Ohio Valley (W.Va.) University joining the RSC West and East divisions, respectively.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.