For once, it's not wildly surprising or out of place to see a UB team marked for fourth or fifth in the East Division in the MAC's preseason poll. Today, the conference released another round of polling, and on the eve of the season opener at defending national champion Penn State the Bulls have been picked for fifth in the East Division.
The fifth-place prediction comes after Buffalo finished fourth in the division in 2014, though the Bulls lose a number of 2014's top attackers and bring in a new coach and a large freshman class from that 17-15 season that saw them start MAC play strong before barely squeaking into the conference tournament.
Volleyball is one of the more lopsided fields among the MAC offerings, especially among sports that see all twelve full members field programs. In the East, Ohio is a clear frontrunner after years of dominance and a 16-0 regular season against MAC competition, while Western Michigan is the reigning MAC Tournament champion and is joined by annually strong programs in Northern Illinois and Ball State in the West. The Bobcats received 10 of 12 votes to win the East and 10 again to win the postseason title, while NIU (7) and WMU (5) nearly split the votes to take the West.
Buffalo, having lost two-time All-MAC First Teamer Tahleia Bishop, did not place anyone on the Preseason All-MAC teams. Only sophomore Cassie Shado, a MAC All-Freshman honoree in 2014, brings former conference recognition to the 2015 team.
The full preseason poll is reproduced below
1. Ohio (10)
2. Miami (2)
3. Kent State
4. Bowling Green
1. Northern Illinois (7)
2. Western Michigan (5)
3. Ball State
4. Central Michigan
5. Eastern Michigan
Thanks again to Paige Miller, who got a FanShot in of the news while I had forgotten it was to come out today.