Oklahoma Baptist, which has won the last three Sooner Athletic Conference volleyball titles, is the overwhelming choice to win this season, according to Monday's preseason coaches' poll.
OBU, which has not lost a conference match since 2010, collected the maximum eight first-place votes for a perfect score of 64. The Lady Bison were 35-6 last season and 12-0 in the SAC.
"We are excited to be ranked first by the other schools in our conference, because we want them to respect us as a top opponent," OBU coach Anna Howle said. "I think it puts a target on our back, but I think we will take that as a challenge to respect each team in our conference every time we play. I think the girls are aware that even with a great finish last year, we have to take care of business each time we step on the floor and there are a lot of tough conference opponents in the SAC, and we are very excited to get the season started."
Wayland Baptist (Texas) received the other first-place vote and finished second with 55 points.
Oklahoma City University is third with 46 points and the Stars return all 13 letter winners from 2012 including all-conference performers Rachel Gabel, Meghan Irwin, Tori Leisure, Hannah Mitcham and Danielle Robison.
OCU did not lose anyone from last year's 15-22 team. The Stars open the season Aug. 30 at Coastal Georgia in the Mariner Invitational at Brunswick, Ga.
"All those kids that played together last year have come back with a year of experience," OCU coach Nikki Dieball said. "The girls know how I coach and my system, so we were able to get right into it in the preseason."
John Brown (Ark.) is fourth with 40 points and Southwestern Assemblies of God (Texas) is ranked fifth in the poll with 36 points, just ahead of Texas Wesleyan with 35 points.
Mid-America Christian tallied 22 points in the poll. The Lady Evangels, coming off their first winning season since joining the NAIA, will open the 2013 campaign at home against Texas College on Aug. 27 inside the Gaulke Activity Center.
St. Gregory's followed in eighth with 18 points and Southwestern Christian in ninth with eight points.
The SAC welcomes new members Northwood (Texas), Southwestern Assemblies of God, Southwestern Christian and Texas Wesleyan into the league in 2013-14. Northwood does not field a volleyball team.
2013 SAC Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll
School (first-place votes) Points
1. Oklahoma Baptist (8) 64
2. Wayland Baptist (1) 55
3. Oklahoma City 46
4. John Brown 40
5. Southwestern Assemblies of God 36
6. Texas Wesleyan 35
7. Mid-America Christian 22
8. St. Gregory's 18
9. Southwestern Christian 8