Iowa Wesleyan University joined the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last year and just one year later find their women's basketball team atop the 2014-15 Preseason Poll. Spalding University, the 2013-14 SLIAC Tournament champions, were picked second in the preseason poll while Westminster College was chosen third. The SLIAC Preseason Poll is voted on by the league's 10 head coaches.
Iowa Wesleyan wasted no time in making their mark in the SLIAC. In their first season in the conference the Tigers went 17-1, finishing the season with a 22-3 overall record. Due to being a first year member of the conference the Tigers were not eligible for post-season play. Iowa Wesleyan received 81 total points in this year's poll, picking up six first-place votes. Head coach Steve Williamson and the Tigers return three starters from last year's squad including 2013-14 SLIAC Player of the Year Karla Vietinghoff. Vietinghoff, a senior forward, was second on the team in scoring at 17.1 points per game. She is joined by senior Whitney Gooden, who earned honorable mention All-Conference honors last year, and senior Lauren Grubb. Iowa Wesleyan will also bring in six newcomers highlighted by Kaylee Mosely, Rachel Williams, and Breanna Hall.
Spalding captured their first women's basketball tournament title last spring after going 16-11 in the regular season and 12-4 in the SLIAC. The Golden Eagles received 76 total points including four first-place votes and are coached by Charlie Just. They bring back 11 players including three starters, led by standout forward Jessica Guy. Guy, a senior forward, earned First Team All-Conference honors last year after leading the league in rebounding (10.6 rpb) and field goal percentage (52.8) while averaging 14.9 points per game. Joining Guy in the starting lineup are seniors Kallie Ash and Hannah Washle. Spalding will have to replace three time All-Conference performer Kerstin Hayes and two year starter Kristin Baker and will look to a pair of transfers in Kayla Styles (from Xavier) and Julie Skaggs (from Louisville) to fill that void.
Westminster received 60 total points after going 13-12 overall and 11-7 in conference play last season. The Blue Jays, coached by Tracey Braden, had their three year regular season title run end last year and will bring back four starters and 18 players. The Blue Jays will need to replace four time All-Conference performer and the program's career scoring leader Leigh Ann Lutz. One of those players that will be counted on is sophomore forward Andrea Zalis. Zalis averaged 9.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season, leading the league in three point percentage and earning SLIAC All-Tournament Team honors. Juniors Mackenzie Haddox and Sadie Theroff are back as well while newcomers Payton Beeler, Brittany Morris, and Anna Houston join the program.
Webster University was picked to finish fourth after receiving 58 total points. The Gorloks were 17-10 overall and 13-5 in the SLIAC last year, advancing to the SLIAC Tournament championship game. Webster is coached by Jordan Olufson and bring back three starters and nine players. All-Conference performer Cassie Endicott, who also picked up All-Defensive Team honors, will lead the charge for the Gorloks. Brittney Harris-Conway and Ashley Brooks also return. In addition to the returners the Gorloks bring in seven freshman and three transfers. Of the newcomers, freshmen Taylor Lucas and Kiley Guerue and junior Derita Silas figure to play prominent roles for the Gorloks.
Eureka College received 48 total points and will be led by first year head coach Steve Thompson. Thompson inherits a team that went 17-9 overall and 13-5 in the SLIAC, advancing to the SLIAC Tournament for the third consecutive year. Although they will have to replace the SLIAC's all-time leading scorer in Caty Eeten, the Red Devils do return four starters and seven players from last year's squad. Leading the way will be senior center Kelsey Shoemake, a Second Team All-Conference performer last year. Shoemake averaged 15.6 points per game last year and is joined in the starting lineup by Jenna Brooks (7.1 ppg) and Emily Camden (8.8 ppg). The arrival of freshmen Katie Schwanke and Abby Raddenbach will add to the Red Devils depth.
Greenville College was picked sixth after receiving 46 total points. The Panthers are led by Roy Mulholland, in his 29th year of coaching, and return four starters from last year's team that went 10-15 overall and 7-11 in the SLIAC. The Panthers will be led by junior forward Coley Baker. Baker averaged 11.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season while leading the league in blocked shots with 101. Guards Miranda Murray and Claire Schmitt are back as is forward Missy Deal. The Panthers will need to replace last year's leading scorer Emily Gundy but will lean on newcomers Laura Goodnight, Meredith Crosier, and Kayla Hyde to add to the offensive game.
Fontbonne University received 27 total points after going 8-17 overall and 6-12 in the conference last season. The Griffins will be coached by new head coach Maureen Sias and bring back three starters. Although the Griffins will need to replace their leading scorer from last year they do bring back their next three top scorers. Guard Nicole Joerger averaged 8.8 points per game while leading the team in three point shooting. Fellow guard DeAmbra Pilkinton averaged 8.0 points per game while forward Olivia Hollander averaged 6.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and will give the team an inside presence. A pair of freshman in Courtney Kedroski and Lexie Thompson should see plenty of valuable minutes on the court.
Blackburn College and MacMurray College each received 22 total points, tying for eighth in the preseason poll. Blackburn was 6-19 overall and 5-13 in the SLIAC last season. Head coach Jen Windmiller returns three starters including forward Briana Rae and guard Alicia George. Rae averaged 13.2 points and a team leading 6.8 rebounds per game last season while George averaged 3.5 points and 2.2 assists per game. The Beavers will bring in seven new players and will look to find a winning mix early on.
MacMurray was 3-22 overall last season and 2-16 in conference play. They are coached by Derek James, in his second year at the helm, and return four starters and nine players. The Highlanders bring back seven players that averaged over 15 minutes per game. Leading the way will be Megan Dusien, who averaged 9.4 points per game last year. Sophomores Kay Dee Carmody, 7.3 points per game, and Cydny Saxer, 6.8 points per game, are expected to continue their growth and add to the scoring Highlander scoring attack. Newcomers Elizabeth Kruemmelbein, Allyson Showers, and Tatum Dowell join the team and will add to the Highlanders depth.
Principia rounds out the poll, receiving 17 total points, after going 4-20 overall and 2-16 in the SLIAC in head coach Colie Bushong's first season. Principia brings back four starters including a strong inside duo of Rachel Perea and Karina Olsen. Perea, the 2013-14 SLIAC Newcomer of the Year, averaged 12.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last year while Olsen averaged 10.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Transfer Kara Johnson, from McKendree University, will provide the Panthers will added scoring.
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