The NCAA Tournament will be played on its home-court and Loyola is now the preseason favorite to make the tournament as the MIVA champions.
The defending-conference champions Ramblers received all but one first-place vote to finish at the top of the MIVA preseason coaches poll that was released Friday morning.
Loyola last season won the MIVA championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals for the first time in its program history. In addition, a majority of starters return for the Ramblers — including All-American outside attacker Joseph Smalzer who was selected the 2014 MIVA Preseason Player of the Year.
Smalzer was one of three Loyola players to be named to the Preseason All-MIVA Team. Outside attacker Thomas Jaeschke and libero Peter Jasaitis also earned preseason all-conference honors.
Lewis was the only school besides Loyola to receive a first-place vote as it finished the conference preseason poll in second place. Lewis All-American setter BJ Boldog and All-American outside attacker Geoff Powell also were Preseason All-MIVA selections.
Loyola and Lewis were the only two schools to have multiple players make the 10-person preseason all-conference team.
Ohio State and Grand Canyon round-out the top-half of the MIVA preseason conference poll, while in-state rivals Ball State and IPFW finished tied for fifth place.
The MIVA season will begin in January and conclude with the MIVA Tournament in late April.
MIVA Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Loyola — 62 (7) points
2. Lewis — 57 (1) points
3. Ohio State — 47 points
4. Grand Canyon — 33 points
T-5. Ball State — 30 points
T-5. IPFW — 30 points
7. Lindenwood — 21 points
8. Quincy — 8 points
MIVA Individual Awards
MIVA Preseason Player of the Year: Joseph Smalzer, Loyola
MIVA Preseason Libero of the Year: Peter Jasaitis, Loyola
Preseason All-MIVA Team
Setter: BJ Boldog, Lewis
Opposite: Colin Hackworth, Lindenwood
Opposite: Joseph Smalzer, Loyola
Outside attacker: Michael Henchy, Ohio State
Outside attacker: Thomas Jaeschke, Loyola
Outside attacker: Ben Ponnet, Grand Canyon
Outside attacker: Geoff Powell, Lewis
Outside attacker: Eddie Rivera, IPFW
Middle attacker: Matt Leske, Ball State
Libero: Peter Jasaitis, Loyola