BRIDGEPORT — Wheeling has been picked by the league coaches to win the 2019 Mountain East Conference volleyball title.
The Cardinals finished atop the poll with 120 points and a maximum of 11 first-place votes.
Wheeling has gone undefeated in conference play in each of the last six seasons in the MEC, and have also won all six MEC Tournament titles.
WU returns a trio of All-Americans, including the 2018 MEC Player of the Year in middle blocker Haley Kramer, along with setter Stephanie Sylvester and outside hitter Cassie Meyer.
Wheeling is ranked No. 13 in the country in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) preseason poll.
West Liberty was picked to finish second with 103 points.
The Hilltoppers went 24-10 last season and earned the program's first NCAA Atlantic Region ranking and will be led by and Madison Clayton in the middle and Olivia Baumhoer on the right side.
Urbana and Charleston tied for the third slot with 96 points. The Blue Knights, who also had a first-place vote, went 21-12 last year in Kara Hellman's first season as head coach. UU will look to an efficient offense run through Anna Davis, with Hannah Delor and Kaitlin Trace looking to finish points. Charleston made a run to the MEC Tournament finals a season ago and will look to middle Janeese VerVelde and libero Kelsey Matusic to lead the way in 2019.
West Virginia State, coming off its most wins in a season (25) since 2009, is picked fifth with 78 points.
Notre Dame is sixth (69), followed by Fairmont State (68) and Davis & Elkins (57). Concord (35), West Virginia Wesleyan (33), Frostburg State (23) and Glenville State (14) round out the poll.
The 2019 season gets underway on Thursday, Sept. 5. The MEC Tournament, which will feature the top eight teams in the standings, will be Nov. 21-23 at the site of the tournament's top-seeded team.
2019 MEC Volleyball
1. Wheeling Jesuit (11) 120
2. West Liberty 103
T3.Urbana (1) 96
5. W.Va. State 78
6. Notre Dame 69
7. Fairmont State 68
8. Davis & Elkins 57
9. Concord 35
10. West Virginia Wesleyan 33
11. Frostburg State 23
12. Glenville State 14
() Indicates first place votes
* Coaches not able to vote for own team