The Southwest Minnesota State volleyball team will start the 2012 season ranked No. 6 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II Top 25 Preseason Poll. It is the sixth straight year the Mustangs have been ranked in the top 25 and the second straight year they've started the season with a No. 6 ranking.
Fellow Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference member Concordia-St. Paul, the five-time defending national champion, received 800 points and all 32 first-place votes to earn the top spot in the preseason poll. SMSU received 624 points.
Three other NSIC squads will start the season ranked in the top 25. Minnesota-Duluth is a spot behind SMSU, tied with Washburn for No. 7. Wayne State sits 12th in the rankings, and Minnesota State-Mankato sneaks in at No. 23.
The Mustangs have been ranked in the AVCA Top 25 for 80 consecutive weeks dating back to Sept. 5, 2006. Last season, SMSU fell no lower than No. 9 in the rankings all season.
SMSU finished 2011 with a 25-7 overall record and was third in the NSIC with a 17-3 mark. The squad advanced to the Sweet 16, making it further than any team in program history.
The Mustangs open the season Aug. 31 against No. 10 Hillsdale (Mich.) in a tournament hosted by Concordia-St. Paul.