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Kelli Browning is on the BIG EAST's Preseason All-Conference Team for the second straight season.
Courtesy: Laura Jacobsen

Volleyball Tabbed Favorites in BIG EAST; Browning/McNary Honored

OMAHA, Neb.  -- The Creighton volleyball team has been picked to win the BIG EAST Conference, according to a poll of league coaches announced today. In addition, both Leah McNary and Kelli Browning were named to the BIG EAST's Preseason All-Conference team.

This is the second straight season the Bluejays have been picked to win the BIG EAST volleyball title. Last year's team finished with a 12-4 league mark, tying for second-place.

Creighton received five of a possible nine first-place votes in the poll and led the way with 77 points. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team in the prognostications. Marquette nabbed four votes for first place and was second with 71 points. The rest of the poll consisted of Xavier (66, one first-place vote), Butler (58), St. John's (50), Seton Hall (43), Villanova (29), Georgetown (25), DePaul (21) and Providence (10). Providence is returning to the league on the volleyball side for the first time since 2002 after spending recent seasons in the America East Conference.

Creighton’s preseason prognosis of first place marks the 11th straight season of a top-five prediction in its league, after nine such accolades from the Missouri Valley Conference from 2004-12 before the past two seasons. In the previous 20 seasons (19 in the MVC, one in the BIG EAST), Creighton has improved its preseason ranking 10 times, been ranked correctly five times, and dropped from preseason expectations just five times. Notably, nine of Creighton’s 11 previous teams under head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth have met or exceeded preseason poll predictions, and the two that didn't dropped just a single slot.

Browning and McNary earned Preseason All-BIG EAST honors after wrapping up the 2013 campaign as First Team All-BIG EAST picks. Browning was also a preseason all-league pick a year ago. Browning has led CU in blocks each of the last two years, while McNary has topped the club in kills during those same two seasons.

Marquette and Xavier each had three preseason all-conference picks, while Creighton, Butler and St. John's had two each. Seton Hall had the remaining honoree.
Marquette sophomore Autumn Bailey was named the BIG EAST's Preseason Player of the Year.

Ranked No. 23 nationally in the 2014 AVCA Preseason Poll, Creighton returns all six starters and 12-of-13 letterwinners from last year’s team that went 23-9 and finished second in the BIG EAST.

The Bluejays opens their season next Friday with a contest vs. Lipscomb at the Kansas Invitational in Larence, Kan., an event that also includes Utah Valley and host Kansas, the nation's No. 22-ranked team.

Preseason BIG EAST Poll
1.    Creighton (5)    77
2.    Marquette (4)    71
3.    Xavier (1)    66
4.    Butler    58
5.    St. John's    50
6.    Seton Hall    43
7.    Villanova    29
8.    Georgetown    25
9.    DePaul    21
10.  Providence    10

Preseason All-BIG EAST Team
Autumn Bailey, Marquette, So., OH ^
Abbey Bessler, Xavier, So., OH ^
Alex Blair, Xavier, R-Sr., MB
Kelli Browning, Creighton, Sr., MB ^
Lindsey Gosh, Marquette, Sr., RS ^
Shelbey Manthorpe, Seton Hall, Sr., S
Leah McNary, Creighton, Sr., OH
Meghan Niemann, Marquette, R-So., MH ^
Belle Obert, Butler, Sr., OH ^
Karin Palgutova, St. John’s, Jr., OH
Aubree Smith, Xavier, Sr., S ^
Erica Stahl, Butler, Sr., MB
Aleksandra Wachowicz, St. John’s, Sr., OH
* - 13 members because of a tie in the voting
^ - unanimous selection

Creighton’s Preseason Poll History
(MVC from 1994-2012; BIG EAST from 2013-Present)
Year    Pick    Finish    Move
1994    11th    9th    up 2
1995    9th    7th    up 2
1996    9th    6th    up 3
1997    8th    3rd    up 5
1998    6th    8th    down 2
1999    T-7th    5th    up 2
2000    4th    T-4th    - -
2001    2nd    4th    down 2
2002    7th    9th    down 2
2003    9th     T-5th    up 4
2004    5th    5th    - -
2005     5th    5th    - -
2006    4th    4th    - -
2007     3rd    T-2nd    up 1
2008     3rd    2nd    up 1
2009    4th    T-4th    - -
2010    4th    3rd    up 1
2011    3rd    4th    down 1   
2012    4th    1st    up 3
2013    1st    T-2nd   down 1
2014    1st    ???    ???
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