Dordt College, runner-up in the NAIA in 2017, tallied 120 points and was picked first in the 2018 Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Preseason Coaches’ Volleyball Poll. The Defenders garnered ten of twelve first place votes. Northwestern, who was picked second with 110 points, received two first place votes.
The Defenders posted a 34-8 overall record in 2017 and finished the GPAC season with a 14-2 mark and the Defenders were tri-champions in the regular season race.
The Defenders open the 2018 season on August 24 at the Red Raider Classic in Orange City, Iowa and will play MidAmerica Nazarene and Corban before facing Baker and Waldorf the following week.
Dordt’s first GPAC match is September 4 against Mount Marty and the Defenders open the home schedule on September 11 against Northwestern.
Dordt returns seven players who played in at least 41 matches in 2017.
Northwestern finished the 2017 season with a 30-6 overall record, reaching the round of 16 at the NAIA National Championship before losing to Westmont (Calif.). Kyle Van Den Bosch begins his 14th season as the Red Raiders head coach and returns six starters and seven letter winners from the 2017 season. Two All-Americans, A.J Horstman and Anna Kiel, along with all-conference players, Lauryn Hilger, Lacey Wacker and Mackenzie Fink, are back, along with starting middle hitter Josie Blankespoor.
The Red Raiders begin fall camp on August 11 and open the regular season at home on August 23 against Corban (Ore.).
The NAIA Volleyball Championship will consist of 44 teams in 2018, with 32 advancing to the final site in Sioux City, Iowa. There will be 20 automatic qualifiers for the final site from the final ranking (top 19 plus local host). The other 12 teams will come from Opening Round winners played on November 17, 2018, at on-campus sites.
The 2018 GPAC volleyball season will consist of 16 conference matches with 12 teams competing for the conference crown. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team in the preseason poll.
2018 GPAC Preseason Volleyball Coaches’ Poll:
Place – Team – Pts (1st Place Votes)
1. Dordt – 120 (10)
2. Northwestern – 110 (2)
3. Hastings – 98
4. Midland – 96
5. Doane – 70
6. Jamestown – 67
7. Morningside – 64
8. Concordia – 50
9. Briar Cliff – 42
10. College of Saint Mary – 31
11. Dakota Wesleyan – 26
12. Mount Marty – 18