Lady Toppers named preseason Sun Belt favorite

Austin Lanter

The Sun Belt Conference announced Monday that the Lady Toppers are the unanimous favorite to win the Sun Belt in volleyball this year.

The team received all 10 first-place votes as voted on by the coaches in the conference.

The Lady Toppers are the defending conference champions after going a perfect 15-0 in the SBC last season. Overall, WKU was 33-4 on the season and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament, its fifth trip in the last 10 seasons.

Five players will be returning for the 2013 campaign from last year’s team.

Four players were also individually recognized Monday as the Conference named the Preseason All-Conference team. Junior middle hitter Heather Boyan, senior defensive specialist Ashley Potts, senior setter Melanie Stutsman, and senior outside hitter Paige Wessel were all named to the All-Conference team.

Potts was also named the preseason Defensive Player of the Year while Stutsman was awarded the preseason Setter Player of the Year.

Potts was named the preseason Defensive Player of the Year before the 2012 season as well and won Defensive Player of the Week four times last season. Stutsman was also named to the preseason All-Conference team last year and ended the season ranked 31st in the country in assists.

WKU as a whole ranked sixth in the nation last season with a .298 hitting percentage.

WKU will open its season this weekend in the Mortar Board Premier in West Lafayette, Ind. Sun Belt Conference play will begin September 27 as the Lady Toppers travel to Troy, Ala., to face the Lady Trojans.