Following a national quarterfinal appearance in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, the Central Missouri Jennies have earned a No. 5 rank in the AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll.
The Jennies have appeared in the AVCA Coaches Poll every week since its debut in 1986, a record 330 consecutive weeks.
The Jens collected 642 of a possible 800 points in the poll, dropping one spot from their fourth-place position in the final poll of 2011.
Three teams that also made trips to the Elite Eight last year top the poll, with five-time defending national champions Concordia-St. Paul at No. 1. Concordia, who received all 32 first-place votes, defeated the Jennies at the NCAA Elite Eight in three tight sets in San Bernardino, Calif. last season. Tampa, who the Jens will face on September 1 in Pensacola, Fla., are ranked No. 2, while national runner-up Cal State-San Bernardino are third.
MIAA newcomers Nebraska-Kearney are one spot ahead of UCM, collecting 660 points for fourth place in the poll. Behind the Jennies are three Central region foes, in Southwest Minnesota State (No. 6), Minnesota-Duluth and conference rival Washburn (tied for No. 7).
Two other MIAA opponents received votes in the poll, in Emporia State and Truman.
UCM returns two AVCA All-Americans from a year ago, in setter Julia Bates and middle hitter Bradye Peniston. The Jens will kick off the 2012 campaign with a trip to Pensacola for the Hemmingway’s Island Grill Invitational, on the campus of West Florida, where they will face off against three programs that received votes in the poll: No. 10 Indianapolis, West Florida, and No. 2 Tampa. The home opener for the Jennies is set for September 11, when they host Missouri S&T at 6:00 p.m.