DALLAS – WKU was selected as the 2023 preseason favorite in Conference USA by the league’s nine head coaches. The Hilltoppers’ fifth year outside hitter Paige Briggs was chosen as the CUSA Preseason Player of the Year.
WKU, the reigning CUSA regular season champions, finished last season with a 29-4 overall mark and a perfect 14-0 league record. The Hilltoppers enter the season at No. 24 in the preseason AVCA poll and have now been ranked in the Top 25 for 54 straight weeks. WKU returns four starters for a squad that has not lost a CUSA game since 2018.
UTEP (17-13 overall last season) was picked to finish second in the league. The Miners finished third in the CUSA standings in 2022 as their season ended in the semifinal round of the CUSA Championship.
Briggs, who enters her fifth year at WKU, was selected as the CUSA Preseason Player of the Year. The Ortonville, Michigan, native was an AVCA All-American honorable mention as well as a CUSA First Team All-Conference member and two-time CUSA Player of the Week in 2022. Briggs started in all 33 matches and played in all 111 sets.
She recorded her 1000th career kill and 1000th career dig while notching a career-best 24 kills against Austin Peay last season. She boasted 24 double-digit kill matches, nine double-digit dig matches and five double-doubles last season.
CUSA teams will compete in a single division this season with the top eight teams qualifying for the 2023 CUSA Volleyball Championship. Liberty will host the single-elimination tournament November 17-19 in Lynchburg, Virginia.
2023 CUSA Volleyball Preseason Team
|OH||Syra Tanchin, FIU||Gr.||St. Michael, Minn.|
|OH||Kamryn Bacus, Liberty||Sr.||Edmond, Okla.|
|S||Delaney Dilfer, Liberty||Sr.||Austin, Texas|
|L/DS||McKenzie Johnson, LA Tech||Jr.||Rockwall, Texas|
|RS||Kayla Henley, MTSU||Gr.||Little River, S.C.|
|OH||Adri Rhoda, MTSU||So.||Hutchinson, Minn.|
|OH/RS||Mari Sharp, NM State||Sr.||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|OH/RS||Ryleigh Whitekettle, NM State||R-So.||Topsail Beach, N.C.|
|OH||Starr Williams, NM State||R-So.||Ontario, Calif.|
|L/DS||Hannah Baker, Sam Houston||Jr.||Deer Park, Texas|
|OH/MB||Alianza Darley, UTEP||Gr.||Las Vegas, N.M.|
|OH||Torrance Lovesee, UTEP||R-So.||Leon, Kan.|
|S||Callie Bauer, WKU||R-So.||Hudson, Mich.|
|OH||Paige Briggs, WKU||5-Sr.||Ortonville, Mich.|
|OH||Kaylee Cox, WKU||Jr.||Flower Mound, Texas|
|RS||Kenadee Coyle, WKU||Jr.||Bloomington, Ind.|
2023 CUSA Preseason Player of the Year
Paige Briggs, WKU
Predicted Order of Finish
|Rank||School (first-place votes)||Total|