The Thunder received votes tallying 36 points to finish in the fifth spot. The point totals are determined by votes cast by the league's coaches, who cannot vote for their own team. Calvin College finished first in the poll receiving the maximum of 64 points including eight first-place votes. Hope College picked up the other first-place mark and received a total of 57 points to enter the season ranked second. Rounding out the top four was Albion College with 45 points and Saint Mary's College with 40 points.
The ranking accurately reflects Trine's 2017 season finish, where the team completed last season with an 8-8 record in conference finishing in a tie for fourth place. The Thunder just missed out on tournament play by tiebreakers with Albion. The season marked a four place improvement over the 2016 season.
The Thunder will look to make a similar jump again this year, as the team returns a host valuable contributors from a year ago along with an influx of young talent.
Setting for Trine will be senior captain Raven Hood (Monroe, Mich. / Airport), junior Alexa Ratkowski (Bronson, Mich. / Bronson) and sophomore Jacqueline Baughman (Lake Orion, Mich. / Lutheran Northwest). Last season Hood lead the Thunder with 479 assists adding 24 aces and 58 kills. Baughman came in third in the assist tally for the team making the most of her limited time on the floor during her freshman season.
Anchoring the defense will once again be Lindsey DeCamp (New Haven / New Haven) returning after spending much of her freshman season as the team's number one libero. She finished the year leading the team in digs with 427 and service aces with 53.
A host of returners will lead the way as pin hitters for the Thunder. Senior captain Shannon Scott (Vicksburg, Mich. / Vicksburg), junior Molly Smith and sophomores Madison Munger (Indianapolis / Franklin Central) and Becca Moon (Charlevoix, Mich. / Charlevoix) all return to the court for Trine. Joining the returners will be newcomer Kendra Nicley (Lebanon / Western Boone).
Munger (245), Smith (117) and Scott (218) all finished last season with top-five team tallies in kills. Scott also led attackers on the team with a .253 hitting percentage. Her efforts earned her a spot on the 2017 All-MIAA Second Team.
In the middle, senior Morgan Harris (Crown Point / Merrillville) and sophomore Sarah Toles (Kendallville / East Noble) return to the floor for another season. Joining them will be freshman Alyvia Sundheimer (Franklin / Franklin Community). Toles led the way for the team block during her freshman campaign ending the season with a team-high 82 total blocks. Harris finished last season with 36 total blocks of her own.
The Thunder begin their season by traveling to Rhode Island to participate in the Roger Williams Invitational starting on Friday, Aug. 31. But they won't open the home portion of their schedule until they host Olivet for an MIAA conference match on Friday, Sept. 21.