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Unscientific Predictions: 2023 Big East Volleyball Preseason Awards

The preseason Player of the Year might be from Creighton, but I think Marquette is the favorite to win the conference this fall.

Nebraska v Creighton
Norah Sis is the reigning Player of the Year in the Big East.
Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Hello and welcome to August!

If it’s August, that means we’re just weeks away from the start of fall sports. That means we’re just days away from the Big East dropping the preseason all-conference awards for those leagues, too. We’d better get moving to make some preseason picks, huh?

As you can see from the title, we’re here to talk about volleyball today. Let’s go!

Preseason Player Of The Year: Norah Sis, Outside Hitter, Creighton

She was the Preseason Player of the Year before the 2022 season started and Player of the Year when it ended, so why shouldn’t the junior from Papillion, Nebraska, still be the best player in the league?

The easy argument against her comes if you don’t think that Creighton is the clear and obvious favorite to win the league. Yes, obviously Sis could win POY this season even if the Bluejays don’t win the regular season title, but if you favored, say, Marquette overall this season and wanted to go towards Yadhira Anchante or Aubrey Hamilton, I can see how your vote would go away from Sis.

All Big East Team

Yadhira Anchante, Marquette, S
Aubrey Hamilton, Marquette, OH
Jaymeson Kinley, Butler, L
Carsen Murray, Marquette, MB
Jill Pressly, DePaul, OH
Norah Sis, Creighton, OH
Giorgia Walther, St. John’s, OH

This is all almost completely straight forward plug-and-play stuff here. All of the seven women here — six players on the court at a time plus a libero — were on the 2022 All-Big East team at the end of the season. Five of them were unanimous choices for that completely insane 18 woman squad. Hey, Big East: It’s fine to have a First Team and a Second Team, you’re not hurting anyone’s feelings, especially not when nine of the women were unanimous choices. It’s like you made a First Team and a Second Team on accident anyway.

Where were we? Oh, right, everyone I just listed there except for Aubrey Hamilton and Jaymeson Kinley were unanimous choices. In fact, I actually eliminated one unanimous choice that’s returning for 2023. That’s Creighton setter Kendra Wait. Do I feel bad about it? Sure, a little bit, but the Big East coaches picked Yadhira Anchante as Setter of the Year, so I’m not the one drawing the line between Anchante and Wait. Kinley gets to jump into the list even though she wasn’t a unanimous choice because she was Libero of the Year at the end of 2022, so why should I challenge the idea that she’s the best libero in the league?

That leaves Hamilton as the only true choice I made on the list as I had to get to seven women. I kept it very simple: If you look at last year’s points per set chart, Hamilton was the best returning player not already in my all-league team. If you want to make the argument that there should be a second middle blocker on the list next to Carsen Murray, I’m not going to argue with you. However, it’s hard to differentiate between Creighton’s Kiana Schmitt — who’s actually listed as a middle and a right side hitter — Marquette’s Hattie Bray, Villanova’s Kiera Booth, and Xavier’s Delaney Hogan. Each one of them were all-Big East performers last season, but none of them averaged more than a block per set. If you’ve got a case for one of them over anyone else as well as over Hamilton, I’m happy to listen to it.

By the way: All of these women that I’m saying I kept off my all-conference picks here? They’re probably going to be on the official preseason all-Big East team when it’s released. Last year, the league put out a preseason squad that had 12 women on it. That’s nearly twice the size of my list, so there’s lots of space for everyone. Why 12 and not a First Team and a Second Team? Again, I’m not the one making decisions here.

Top Six Teams

1 — Marquette
2 — Creighton
3 — St. John’s
4 — Butler
5 — Xavier
6 — DePaul

Six teams qualify for the Big East tournament, so I’m only going to pick those spots in the league. If everyone else wants to argue about it, maybe they should try winning more than 12 matches as was the case last year.

With Anchante, Hamilton, and Murray in my preseason all-conference team, you can’t be surprised that I’m picking the Golden Eagles to win the Big East this season. They’ve won two straight regular season conference titles already, even though they did tie with Creighton for each one of those. I’m making the call for Marquette because they’re replacing ever so slightly less than Creighton is. MU’s only open spot in the rotation is there because of the departure of libero Carly Skrabak, while the Bluejays are replacing their libero, Allison Whitten, along with Keeley Davis and Jazz Schmidt as well. We’re talking about fractions of difference between the two titans in the conference, but sometimes, that’s all you have to make a decision.

The rest of the teams in my top six? Yeah, I’m mostly just throwing darts. DID YOU KNOW: While Marquette and Creighton were busy going 17-1 last season, no one else had fewer than seven losses? That was Xavier, and then there was a three-way tie for fourth place with a 10-8 record. I just made sure to include everyone with someone on my preseason all-conference team and then came up with an order. No, I do not feel confident in any of it, but with 11-7 being good enough for third place last season, I don’t feel I have to feel confident in it.