Vball pregame

Creighton's volleyball team huddles up before an NCAA tournament match last year. The Jays will open the 2019 campaign ranked No. 18 in the preseason coaches poll.

Creighton volleyball earned the No. 18 spot in the preseason coaches poll, marking the fourth straight season the Jays will begin the year ranked.

It is, however, the lowest preseason ranking for CU since 2016, when it was also No. 18. The Jays were ranked 13th in last year’s preseason poll and ninth in 2017.

Creighton has to replace record-setting outside hitters Jaali Winters and Taryn Kloth, but it does return senior libero Brittany Witt, senior right-side hitter Megan Ballenger and senior setter Madelyn Cole. The Big East coaches picked the Jays to finish second in the league behind Marquette, which was ranked No. 16 in the preseason Top 25.

In addition to the Golden Eagles, Creighton will face five more ranked teams this fall.

CU opens the season against No. 2 Nebraska on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. in Lincoln. It will also play No. 7 Kentucky, No. 13 Washington, No. 14 Southern California and No. 20 Baylor. Northern Iowa, which received votes in the preseason poll, is on the schedule, too.

The Jays will be looking to make their eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance in 2019. They were a top-16 seed for the second year in a row last season after winning the Big East’s regular-season and conference titles, but they got upset by Washington in the second round.

Creighton is set to conduct an intrasquad scrimmage at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Sokol Arena.

Reporter - Creighton athletics

Jon covers Creighton athletics, the College World Series and more for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @JonNyatawa. Phone: 402-444-6611

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