The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Missouri Southern Sports

August 13, 2013

Lions picked last in MIAA volleyball poll

After a winless 2012 volleyball season, Missouri Southern has nowhere to go but up.

The Lions were picked to finish last in the MIAA on Tuesday in a poll of league coaches.

MSSU, which finished last season 0-30, received just 12 points in the poll, meaning each coach voted the Lions to finish last.

“We are coming off a tough season last year and we really just want to obviously improve our record tremendously from last year,” new Missouri Southern coach Rachel Kirkman said as part the the league’s virtual media day.

“The MIAA is one of the toughest conferences in the nation, and we want to make a name for ourselves and prove that we deserve to be in this conference.”

The Lions return five of six starters from last season for Kirkman, who takes over the program after serving as an assistant coach in 2012.

Nebraska-Kearney was picked to repeat as the league champion, compiling 118 points and eight first-place votes.

Central Missouri was second with 108 points and one first-place nod while Washburn was just a point behind with 107 points and three first-place votes.

Emporia State was fourth with 89 points and Pittsburg State was fifth with 71 points.

The Gorillas return 10 players from last year’s team that finished 17-13 overall and 7-10 in the MIAA, including four seniors and eight players who have started.

“We believe the transition from last year to this year will be much more seamless and much better,” Pitt State coach Ibraheem Suberu said. “Because of the success of last year and finishing better and starting really well, even though we had some bumps in the middle, those young ladies have now become veterans.”

Northwest Missouri was sixth in the poll, followed by Fort Hays State, Central Oklahoma, Lindenwood, Missouri Western, Southwest Baptist and Missouri Southern.

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