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NAIA Top 25 Preseason Poll

Point Park University volleyball ranked No. 22 in NAIA Preseason Top 25 Poll

Aug. 20, 2013 at 7:20 p.m. ET

Senior Nicole Wurstle (RH) and the Pioneers are No. 22 in the NAIA Preseason Top 25. Photo by Evan Skowvron.



PITTSBURGH -- Point Park University volleyball is ranked No. 22 in the Tachikara-NAIA Volleyball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll released by the NAIA office on Tuesday (Aug. 20). It is the highest ranking ever for the Pioneers' program, which earned its first-ever national ranking late last year and topped out at No. 24 in 2012.

Point Park, which is coming off a record of 30-10 overall and 9-1 KIAC last year, ended the 2012 season in the 'others receiving votes' section of the final NAIA Top 25 Poll at No. 29 overall. The Pioneers moved up seven spots in this year's preseason poll, and they open the 2013 campaign Aug. 23-24 at the Early Bird Tournament hosted by Michigan-Dearborn.

The No. 1 team in the preseason poll is defending national champion Concordia (Calif.), which was coached by current University of Pittsburgh first-year coach Dan Fisher. Point Park is one of four new teams to the rankings since the last poll of 2012.

Point Park has three of six starters returning from last year's team, which finished runner-up in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament to Indiana East. The Pioneers lost in five sets to fall short of a second-consecutive trip to the NAIA national tourney.

Point Park graduated nine seniors from last year but has re-stocked its roster with an eight-person recruiting class, five of which are transfers. The Pioneers are 127-34 (.789) the last four years and have reached their conference tournament finals three of the last four seasons.

Point Park was picked as the favorite in the KIAC Preseason Coaches' Poll. Indiana East is No. 2 in the conference poll and is in the 'others receiving votes' section of the NAIA Preseason Top 25 Poll.

The Pioneers have on their 2013 schedule five teams that are ranked in the NAIA Preseason Top 25 and two more who are among those receiving votes. Any early test will come on the opening weekend when Point Park plays No. 11 Madonna (Mich.) on Aug. 24, which is Day 2 of the Early Bird Tournament.

Point Park will also see this year No. 12 Bellevue (Neb.), No. 15 Viterbo (Wis.), T-No.17 Indiana Wesleyan and No. 19 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.). The Indiana Wesleyan match-up comes at the IWU/Taylor Tournament Aug. 30-31 while the other three ranked opponents all come at the Georgetown (Ky.) Boneyard Brawl Oct. 25-26. Preseason No. 26 Davenport (Mich.) will be the fourth opponent at the Georgetown tournament.

Point Park is coached by Mike Bruno, who is in his ninth year a the school. His next victory will be his 200th at Point Park, and he is 315-166 (.654) in 13 years as a coach. Seniors Chelsea Katkich (OH) and Nicole Wurstle (RH) are the top returning players. Wurstle was All-KIAC First Team last year, and Katkich is the top returning kill producer.

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