BAY CITY, Mi. Grand Valley State and Northern Michigan will enter the 2018-19 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Women's Basketball season as divisional favorites following the unveiling of the 2018-19 GLIAC Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches.
Northern Michigan (60 points, 10 first-place votes) will lead the North Division as the Wildcats return a veteran lineup guided by senior Darby Youngstrom and reigning GLIAC Freshman of the Year Lexi Smith. Four more seniors along with some newcomers will make NMU one of the teams to beat in the conference.
Grand Valley State (58 points, 7 first-place) returns a plethora of proven talent, including 10 letterwinners from a year ago. Junior Cassidy Boensch headlines the Lakers returners healthy and ready for a full 2018-19 season after she averaged 22.4 points and 104. rebounds throughout her final eight contests as a starter. Jenn DeBoer and Natalie Koenig will anchor the perimiter in hopes of getting GVSU to its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
Ashland (54 points, 4 first-place) is just behind GVSU in the South Division as the Eagles bring back reigning national player of the year Jodi Johnson along with guards Renee Stimpert and Maddie Dackin who plan on fulfilling the high expectations set for a program that has lost just one game in two years. Michigan Tech (50 points, 2 first-place) will look to senior Elizabeth Kelliher to lead the Huskies after she earned All-GLIAC Second Team and Defensive Team accolades. Cassidy Trotter, Abbie Botz, Hannah Hobson, Baillie McGirk, Ellie Welsh, and Isabella O’Brien join Kelliher as key returners and leaders for this year’s team.
Ferris State (43 points) resides in the third position in the North Division as the Bulldogs return 13 members of last year's squad highlighted by Lilly George. Wayne State (39 points) looks to once again exceed expectations like they did last season but the Warriors will have to rely on junior Nastassja Chambers and senior Ja'Nae Williams to guide the way.
The final three spots in the North Division were occupied by Parkside in fourth and a tie for fifth between Lake Superior State and Purdue Northwest. The poll was rounded out in the South Divison by: No. 4 Northwood, No. 5 Davenport and No. 6 Saginaw Valley State.
Below are the selections for preseason all-conference awards:
2018-19 GLIAC Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Teams
1. Darby Youngstrom - Northern Michigan
2. Lexi Smith - Northern Michigan
3. Elizabeth Kelliher - Michigan Tech
4. Ali Bettencourt - Parkside
5. Lilly George - Ferris State
1. Jodi Johnson - Ashland (Preseason Player of the Year)
2. Cassidy Boensch - Grand Valley State
3. Renee Stimpert - Ashland
4. Natalie Koenig - Grand Valley State
5. Nastassja Chambers - Wayne State
Competition begins on November 9th with GLIAC play commencing on November 29th. The 2019 GLIAC Women's Basketball Tournament will take place March 5th through the 10th.