After reaching the Final Four last season, Lewis officially enters the upcoming season the preseason favorite to repeat as conference championships.
The defending conference championships Flyers received six of eight first-place votes and had 62 points to finish atop the MIVA Preseason Coaches Poll released Tuesday morning.
Lewis last season won its program’s first MIVA championship since 2004 and became the first MIVA team besides Ohio State to win the conference title since 2007. In addition, the Flyers return a majority of starters, including Off the Block Preseason All-Americans outside attacker Jay Petty and setter BJ Boldog.
Petty also was voted the MIVA Preseason Player of the Year in the conference’s coaches poll.
Loyola and Ohio State were the only other teams to receive a first-place vote. The Ramblers finished in second place with 54 points, while the Buckeyes came in third place with 52 points.
Grand Canyon in fourth place and Ball State in fifth place round out the top five.
Lindenwood beginning its inaugural season in the conference was projected to finish in seventh place — receiving more than votes than last-place Quincy. Lindenwood joined the conference this summer after transitioning from NAIA to NCAA Division II.
MIVA Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Lewis — 62 (6) points
2. Loyola — 54 (1) points
3. Ohio State — 52 (1) points
4. Grand Canyon — 35 points
5. Ball State — 29 points
6. IPFW — 28 points
7. Lindenwood — 20 points
8. Quincy — 8 points
MIVA Preseason Awards
Player of the Year: Jay Petty, Lewis
Libero of the Year: Peter Jasaitis, Loyola
MIVA Preseason All-Conference Team
Dainis Berzins, Loyola
BJ Boldog, Lewis
Michael Henchy, Ohio State
Peter Jasaitis, Loyola
Matt Leske, Ball State
Jay Petty, Lewis
Ben Ponnet, Grand Canyon
Geoff Powell, Lewis
Eddie Rivera, IPFW
Joe Smalzer, Loyola