For the second year in a row, the Big East volleyball coaches picked reigning champion Creighton to finish second in the league’s preseason poll.

The Jays have won five consecutive regular-season and tournament titles. They’re a combined 58-2 in conference matches the past three years.

But they do have some significant firepower to replace in 2019.

That is, perhaps, why the Big East coaches labeled Marquette as the league’s favorite Thursday. St. John’s was slotted third behind CU.

The Golden Eagles, who reached the Sweet 16 last season, bring back all but two of their regular rotation players, including Big East preseason player of the year Allie Barber.

The Jays will be aiming to repeat again, but they’ll be without Jaali Winters, the school’s all-time kills leader, and Taryn Kloth, who is fourth in career kills. Those two veteran outside hitters were cornerstones of CU’s offense the past several seasons.

But Creighton does return libero Brittany Witt, right-side hitter Megan Ballenger and senior setter Madelyn Cole. All three were named to the preseason All-Big East team.

CU had some question marks heading into last year, too, when the Big East coaches picked Marquette to finish first ahead of Creighton in the league’s preseason poll.

The Jays proved them wrong, though. CU became the first school in Big East history to win five consecutive outright regular-season championships. Its fifth straight league tournament title marked the conference’s longest streak in more than two decades.

Creighton is set to open the 2019 season at Nebraska on Aug. 30. It’ll host the annual Blue-White scrimmage Aug. 17 at D.J. 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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