Three returnees for Minnesota were selected to the Preseason All-Big Ten team by the conference coaches. Samantha Seliger-Swenson was one of two unanimous selections, the other being Nebraska’s Mikaela Foecke. Seliger-Swenson received the same honor last season in addition to postseason honors; First Team All-Big Ten, Big Ten Setter of the Year, and First Team All-American.
Alexis Hart and Molly Lohman received the preseason honor for the first time in their careers. The duo were solid contributors last season garnering them both All-American Honorable Mention accolades. Hart was also on the Freshman All-Big Ten team. Lohman was All-Big Ten honorable mention last season.
Full list of all 15 honorees
Ali Bastianelli, Illinois, Jr., Middle Blocker
Jordyn Poulter, Illinois, Jr., Setter
Claire Kieffer-Wright, Michigan, Sr., Middle Blocker
Alyssa Garvelink, Michigan State, Sr., Middle Blocker
Alexis Hart, Minnesota, So., Outside Hitter
Molly Lohman, Minnesota, Sr., Middle Blocker
SAM SELIGER-SWENSON, Minnesota, Jr., Setter
MIKAELA FOECKE, Nebraska, Jr., Outside Hitter
Kelly Hunter, Nebraska, Sr., Setter
Ali Frantti, Penn State, Sr., Outside Hitter
Simone Lee, Penn State, Sr., Outside Hitter
Haleigh Washington, Penn State, Sr., Middle Blocker
Danielle Cuttino, Purdue, Sr., Outside Hitter
Molly Haggerty, Wisconsin, So., Outside Hitter.
Tionna Williams, Wisconsin, Jr., Middle Blocker
UNANIMOUS SELECTIONS IN CAPS
Seliger-Swenson has already established herself as one of the county’s best setters and does a masterful job running Minnesota’s offense. She will likely repeat as B1G Setter of Year as her closest competition, Wisconsin’s Lauren Carlini has graduated. Lohman and Hart though will carry a larger load than they did last season. With the graduation of the Tapp sisters Lohman is the only returning middle blocker returning with substantial experience. She is extremely efficient, hitting .370, but her numbers will likely drop as she takes more swings this season. Hart too might see a little drop-off this season as she passes more and has more attention on her as Player of the Year Sarah Wilhite has graduated.
In addition to selecting the preseason All-Big Ten team the conference coaches also predicted the finish for conference teas. No. 6 Penn State is the preseason favorite to win the conference. No. 5 Nebraska who won the conference last season was picked second. Coaches around the country were more optimistic about Minnesota, voting them as the top Big Ten team in the AVCA poll, 4th, than league counterparts who picked the Gophers to finish third in league play.
1. Penn State
4. Michigan State
8. Ohio State
Penn State returns all their starters from last year’s Sweet Sixteen squad who nearly knocked off Nebraska at home in the NCAA regional semifinals. The Huskers on the other hand lost four key contributors but still have some veteran players to go their 8th ranked recruiting class . Michigan State is predicted to crack the top four in the conference on the strength of their height and seven person senior class. Wisconsin boats a top recruiting class, ranked second by Volleyballmag.com, but the coaches are not convinced that’d be enough for the Badgers to contend for a conference title again this season.