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Jayhawks & Longhorns Highlight 2016 Preseason Honors
August 03, 2016

Following NCAA semifinal appearances a season ago, Kansas and Texas lead the way on the 2016 edition of the Big 12 volleyball preseason team and awards.

The Jayhawks’ Kelsie Payne has been tabbed the 2016 Preseason Player of the Year, while Longhorn rookie Orie Agbaji earned the Preseason Freshman of the Year honor. The national runner-up in 2015, Texas placed four players on the preseason team, while Kansas represents with three.

Ten members of the 2015 All-Big 12 First Team appear on this season’s preseason squad.

In 2015, Payne, a junior right side hitter, led the Big 12 in kills per set (4.4) and total kills (496) en route to AVCA All-America First Team honors. She also collected All-Big 12 First Team recognition and was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team as the Jayhawks concluded their historic season in the national semifinals to cap off a 30-3 record. Payne was a four-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year selection in 2015.

A product of Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Agbaji was named one of Volleyball Magazine’s Top 5 Players in the Class and was on the publications Girls’ Fab 50 list. In 2016, she was named a PrepVolleyball Senior Ace and Under Armour First Team All-American while also earning First Team All-State, All-Region, All-District and All-Conference honors. She has also collected MVP of the European Global Challenge honors, was selected to the 2015 Women’s Junior National Team, where she earned All-Tournament Team honors, and earned All-Conference First Team honors all four years in high school.

Along with Payne, 2015 Big 12 Setter of the Year Ainise Havili was a unanimous selection to the preseason All-Big 12 Team with Tayler Soucie also representing the Jayhawks on the team.

Three of Texas’ four preseason team members were chosen as unanimous selections - setter Chloe Collins, middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu and outside hitter Paulina Prieto-Cerame. TCU’s Ashley Smith rounds out the six honorees who were unanimous selections.

Thirteen of the 15 preseason All-Big 12 selections were named to the 2015 All-Big 12 First or Second Teams with 10 of the 15 honorees on last season’s all-conference first team.

Ogbogu enters the season as a three-time All-Big 12 First Team honoree, while Soucie and K-State’s Katie Brand are two-time first team members.

The 2016 Big 12 volleyball preseason poll will be announced on Thursday, August 4. The season starts on Friday, August 26, with the first conference match scheduled for Tuesday, September 20.

Preseason Player of the Year:
Kelsie Payne, Kansas, Jr., RS, Austin, Texas/John B. Connally

Preseason Freshman of the Year:
Orie Agbaji, Texas, MB, Kansas City, Mo./Oak Park

Preseason Team
Name, School Pos. Ht.     Cl. Hometown/Previous School
Shelly Fanning, Baylor~ MH 6-2 So. Houston, Texas/Cypress Ranch
Alexis Conaway, Iowa State* MB/OH 6-0 Jr. Orange City, Iowa/Moc-Floyd Valley
Morgan Kuhrt, Iowa State* OH/RS 6-1 Sr. Waverly, Iowa/Waverly-Shell Rock
Ainise Havili, Kansas^* S 5-10 Jr. Fort Worth, Texas/Haltom
Kelsie Payne, Kansas^* RS 6-3 Jr.  Austin, Texas/John B. Connally
Tayler Soucie, Kansas* MB 6-1 Sr. Osawatomie, Kan./Osawatomie
Katie Brand, Kansas State* S 6-1 Jr.  Grand Island, Neb./Central Catholic
Marion Hazelwood, Oklahoma* MB 6-3  Jr. Beach City, Texas/Barbers Hill
Madison Ward, Oklahoma OH 6-1  Sr.  Lawton, Okla./Cache 
Ashley Smith, TCU^~ OH  6-1 Sr. League City, Texas/Clear Creek
Chloe Collins, Texas^* S 5-7 Sr.  Cypress, Texas/Cypress Woods
Ebony Nwanebu, Texas OH 6-4 Jr.  Fairview, Texas/Lovejoy
Chiaka Ogbogu, Texas^* MB 6-2  Sr. Coppell, Texas/Coppell
Paulina Prieto Cerame, Texas^* OH  6-2 Sr.  San Juan, Puerto Rico/Penn State
Lauren Douglass, Texas Tech~ MB/RS 6-2  Sr.  Flower Mound, Texas/Ole Miss 

^ - Unanimous Selection
* - 2015 All-Big 12 First Team honoree
~ - 2015 All-Big 12 Second Team honoree
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.
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