It’s Men’s Health Week, and experts are building awareness of preventable health problems and encouraging early detection and treatment of disease among men. Photo credit: Mary R. VogtA fishing pole or a new tie may be traditional Father’s Day gifts, but experts say another important gift could be a conversation with the men in your life about taking control of their own health.Brandon Leonard, director of strategic initiatives with Men’s Health Network, says the time spent caring for and providing for their families can lead many men to neglect their own health care needs.“Men need to take responsibly for their own health so that they can be there for the birthdays and the graduations and the weddings and so that they can enjoy life with their family and with their friends as well,” he stresses.Leonard says prevention is the best medicine, and habits now will have a huge impact on what happens down the road.As part of Men’s Health Week, he’s encouraging men to get regular doctor check-ups and think about risk factors for things like heart disease, different types of cancers and diabetes.Leonard points out men of all ages need to focus on getting regular exercise and good nutrition.“Getting plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains and lean proteins,” he says. “And really making a conscious decision to cut back on things like junk food, cut back on the sweets, cut back on the fried foods because those are certainly going to have an impact on your health down the road.”Leonard says heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women.As they age, he adds, it’s important that men stay on top of their blood pressure and cholesterol and get regular screenings for certain types of cancer.“Continuing to look at things like prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and men are also dealing with urinary tract issues,” he says. “Enlarged prostate can become an issue at that point.”Across Indiana and the country, communities are celebrating Men’s Health Week with free screenings, health fairs and other educational events.News Service
Photo from Joan Schaefer’s websiteLast week, the USC community lost a member of the Trojan Family known iconically as “Dean Joan,” who has been described as a beacon for students seeking advice, a listening ear and a genuine friend.Joan Metcalf Schaefer, who served as USC’s Dean of Women Emerita from 1955 to 1992, died on Sept. 3. She was 95.Schaefer had an open-door policy, and welcomed walk-ins from all students, including many men. Those who sat in her office describe having “instant chemistry” in their first interactions with Schaefer.She kept in touch with many former students, spending holidays and dinners with their families, alumnus and Schaefer’s longtime friend Jerry Papazian said. After retiring from her official position, Schaefer spent another 20 years at USC counseling groups like the Mortar Board national honor society and served on the executive board of Phi Beta Kappa, according to Papazian. She also began taking over 30 students to a summer program at the University of Cambridge in England each year.Papazian met Schaefer in 1975 when he was a student working a summer job on campus. He walked by Schaefer’s office every day and became close friends with her. The two remained in touch long after Papazian graduated. “She was a classy, vibrant person you could talk to about anything at all,” Papazian said. “After speaking with her for a couple of minutes, you feel like you had known her your entire life.”In 1992, Papazian worked with other former students to raise money for the Dean Joan Metcalf Schaefer Scholarships awarded through the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The scholarship has an endowment of almost $2 million and is awarded annually in the spring.Papazian added that Schaefer was an icon and role model for many female students. “She encouraged many alumni of the University to go and become doctors and lawyers when there really wasn’t that kind of support at the time,” Papazian said. Schaefer also encouraged students to pursue their dreams, Papazian said, by challenging their ideas and making them better people. Papazian said a memorial is being planned on campus for later this fall.
Women’s Cross Country/Track and FieldRai Ahmed-GreenElizabeth AhoCameryn BaldwinMillie BretlBailee CoferMykaela ColeVictoria CoombeMariah CrawfordKayla GiulianoSophia JacksonMeghan KearneyChristina LeMunyonPaige NicholsonOlivia RogersTaryn RolleRachel SelvaCatie WiltangerMary Young Of those 282 honors, 13 student-athletes received the prestigious Missouri Valley Conference President’s Council Academic Excellence Award. Those 13 were Ben Troester (Men’s Soccer), Becca Jonas (Women’s Basketball), Madison Glennie (Women’s Golf), Sarah Frantik (Rowing), Haley Morris (Women’s Soccer), Ali Smith (Women’s Soccer), Rachel Wanninger (Women’s Soccer), Tess Herder (Women’s Tennis), Rai Ahmed-Green (Women’s Track and Field) Bailee Cofer (Women’s Track and Field), Kayla Giuliano (Women’s Track and Field), Taryn Rolle (Women’s Track and Field) and Kyla Inderski (Women’s Track and Field). Just 106 of the more than 1,500 MVC student-athletes to be recognized by the MVC garnered the President’s Council Academic Excellence Award. SoftballTasha AlexanderLaura AndersonAbby BuieAshlie ChambersKennedy FrankGabbie JonasSarah MaddoxNicole NewmanTaryn PenaMandi RoemmichLibby RyanMelissa SchlotzhauerKailee SmithNicole TimmonsKelsey Wright Men’s Cross Country/Track and FieldAlec BognarKyle BrandtKyle CassDevin CatesAaron ChierMatthew CozineJohnathan FreemanMaximilian FridrichCaulin GravesJoseph HarkinsMaxwell HarlanChristopher KaminskiKevin KellyXavier LechleitnerDominic LombardiMalik MetivierRylee MillerErik OlsonJustin PhillipsHudson PriebeAlexander RohlfsJoseph RomainJannik SchullerKurt TebeestBas Van LeersumJoshua YeagerJake Taylor Finally, 192 Drake student-athletes earned a spot on 2017-18 MVC Honor Roll. To qualify for the Valley Honor Roll, a student-athlete must have recorded a minimum 3.2 grade point average for a specified term (Fall 2017/Spring 2018), must have been a member of an athletics team and must have a minimum of 12 hours of enrollment during the fall. Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award RecipientsSamm Jones Men’s BasketballNick McGlynn Men’s BasketballC.J. Rivers Men’s BasketballCasey Schlatter Men’s BasketballMatt Lavery Men’s GolfArjun Reddy Men’s GolfAndrew Blalock Men’s SoccerPaul Ciszewski Men’s SoccerZach Conroy Men’s SoccerHarris DeWoskin Men’s SoccerSteven Enna Men’s SoccerRyan Merideth Men’s SoccerScott Misselhorn Men’s SoccerAlex Peterson Men’s SoccerNate Seaberg Men’s SoccerBen Troester Men’s SoccerTom Hands Men’s TennisBen Stride Men’s TennisAlec Bognar Men’s Track & FieldKyle Brandt Men’s Track & FieldKyle Cass Men’s Track & FieldAaron Chier Men’s Track & FieldJohnathan Freeman Men’s Track & FieldJoshua Yeager Men’s Track & FieldMaddie Dean Women’s BasketballBecca Hittner Women’s BasketballNicole Miller Women’s BasketballSara Rhine Women’s BasketballMadison Glennie Women’s GolfSigurlaug Jonsdottir Women’s GolfReilly Korhe Women’s GolfBrooke Miller Women’s GolfMaddie Coffman RowingMelanie Dahlstrom RowingLindsay Finnell RowingSarah Frantik RowingShelley Hunter RowingJessica Rebischke RowingJocelyn Rimes RowingRyli Smith RowingErica Thacker RowingReilly Bertram Women’s SoccerAlyssa Brand Women’s SoccerAli Burke Women’s SoccerLinda Fiorito Women’s SoccerVanessa Kavan Women’s SoccerHaley Moris Women’s SoccerCassie Rohan Women’s SoccerBrooke Salisbury Women’s SoccerAli Smith Women’s SoccerRachel Wanninger Women’s SoccerHannah Wilder Women’s SoccerTasha Alexander SoftballAshlie Chambers SoftballKennedy Frank SoftballTaryn Pena SoftballMandi Roemmich SoftballMelissa Schlotzhauer SoftballKailee Smith SoftballNicole Timmons SoftballKelsey Wright SoftballSummer Brills Women’s TennisTess Herder Women’s TennisRai Ahmed-Green Women’s Track & FieldBailee Cofer Women’s Track & FieldMykaela Cole Women’s Track & FieldVictoria Coombe Women’s Track & FieldMariah Crawford Women’s Track & FieldKayla Giuliano Women’s Track & FieldChristina LeMunyon Women’s Track & FieldOlivia Rogers Women’s Track & FieldTaryn Rolle Women’s Track & FieldCathryn Cheek Women’s VolleyballOdessa Cody Women’s VolleyballKyla Inderski Women’s VolleyballSara Jensen Women’s VolleyballGrace Schofield Women’s Volleyball Men’s SoccerLuke AndersonAndrew BlalockPaul CiszewskiZachary ConroyHarris DeWoskinGabriel EdelSteven EnnaErik FahnerTouko LaakkonenMason LeonardRyan MeridethScott MisselhornWil NurreAlex PetersonNathanael SeabergErik SigmanKellar SirstinsJake TaylorAndrew ThomassonBenjamin TroesterAleksi TuominenBen Vukovich Women’s SoccerReilly BertramHannah BormannAlyssa BrandOlivia BruceAli BurkeRebecca CorbettLinda FioritoElaine GoromKasey HurtJamie IntiharVanessa KavanHaley MorisMariah NorthropSam NoslerBecca RodgersCassie RohanBrooke SalisburyAnnie SchmitzAli SmithAbby StephensonKelsie StoneRachel WanningerHannah Wilder ST. LOUIS – Drake University student-athletes received tremendous recognition for their efforts in the classroom as the Bulldogs were honored a total of 282 times by the Missouri Valley Conference as part of its 2017-18 Academic Awards, the league office announced Monday, July 30. Also, 77 Bulldogs were recipients of the Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award, which requires a minimum grade point average of 3.5 for the previous two semesters, a minimum 3.2 cumulative grade point average and one year participation in athletics. Freshmen are not eligible. Women’s BasketballSammie BachrodtMonica BurichMaddie DeanHannah FullerPaige GreinerRebecca HittnerBecca JonasMya MertzNicole MillerMaddie MonhanaSara RhineBrenni RoseKatie Van Scyoc Women’s TennisSummer BrillsTess HerderMela JaglarzJoely LomasLiza PetushkovaMegan WebbKenya Williams Men’s GolfTommi AvantDrew IsonJack KennedyMatt LaveryTim LimKyle MacDonaldArjun Reddy Women’s GolfGrace DunnAimee GerschkeMadison GlennieSigurlaug JonsdottirReilly KorheBrooke MillerSam Paulak Men’s TennisBen ClarkVinny GillespieTom HandsCalum MacGeochFreddy PowellBen StrideBarny Thorold MVC Academic Honor RollMen’s BasketballConnor GholsonSamm JonesKory KuenstlingNick McGlynnC.J. RiversCasey SchlatterReed TimmerGraham Woodward Rowing Audrey BaumeisterMaddie CoffmanMelanie DahlstromLindsay FinnellSarah FrantikMersadies GowansShelley HunterMikaela JanesMadeline KillianSarah KonopackiOlivia MastersonIngrid McNeelyElise NikolicDaniele NitkowskiMolly PackerMadison PetersonPaige PrienLiz RambhiaJessica RebischkeJocelyn RimesAbby RundquistElyse SimonsRyli SmithEmma StockErica Thacker The President’s Council Academic Excellence Award requires a minimum 3.8 cumulative grade point average (through Spring 2018 semester), participation in athletics a minimum of two years and the student-athlete must be within 18 hours of graduation. VolleyballAlexa Aldrich-IngramPaige AspinwallCathryn CheekOdessa CodyMadi FordNatalie FryGillian GergenKyla InderskiSara JensenCourtney MoreheadEmily PlockGrace SchofieldElle Tubbs Print Friendly Version
Local county councillor Mícheál Choilm Mac Giolla Easbuig has been condemned in the media and on social media for his stance on the recent spray-painting of English language road signs in the Gaeltacht.However, he refuses to condemn the defacing of the signs.Here he explains why the issue is much bigger than just a few signs being defaced in the Donegal Gaeltacht. Do you still support the actions of the people who did this?I do. Nothing has changed. No-one has said anything that would make me reconsider my support for these actions. The politicians who have condemned my stance and some people on social media are focussing on the spray-painting and are making no effort to understand why it is happening.What do you believe was the motivation behind those who carried out the painting of road signs?I can really only guess, but I have no doubt that frustration at the neglect of the Gaeltacht by successive governments played its part. There are very few job opportunities here and the jobs that are here are, for the most part, minimum wage or just above it. At that level, buying a car is a problem and you couldn’t build or buy a house on minimum wage. If it was young people that spray-painted the signs, they know that there is very little future for them here, where they can settle down and raise a family in the community they grew up in. But, again, people ignore all these things and complain about the damage caused and the harm it does to the tourist trade locally. Has this action damaged the tourism sector in the Gaeltacht, as has been claimed?I think there may be a couple of tourists who might be a little bit confused because of the spray-painting, but I think it’s important to put it in context. For example, five hotels were closed in Gaoth Dobhair prior to the launch of the Wild Atlantic Way. No incentives were offered to address that loss of vital infrastructure. In comparison to this catastrophe, daubing paint on a few road signs is petty stuff. State vandalism has caused far more damage to the tourist industry here than any amount of paimtimg over English placenames. By the way, as far as I know, only seven signs, out of thousands in the Gaeltacht, were interfered with in any way. As regards the tourist trade, you would think it is the be all and end all of our employment opportunities but it is a notoriously low wage sector and only lasts for a few weeks in the Summer. I’d rather see investment going into proper jobs that allow local young people to stay here instead of leaving the area to find work. If the government is serious about helping the community to develop and implement language plans for Gaeltacht areas, those communities have to be sustainable and they won’t be if they rely too much on the tourist industry.Do you support the work of the Language Planning Committees in Gaeltacht areas?I do, indeed. I am on the Language Planning Committee for Árainn Mhór and I have attended meetings of the support forum for my own area in Gaoth Dobhair and the Lower Rosses. I promised to do whatever I can to help them stabilise the language in the Gaeltacht. It is vitally important that we all get involved because all the reports tell us that the Gaeltacht is on its last legs.Some say that it is dying but dying is a natural process. The Gaeltacht isn’t dying. It’s being slowly strangled by successive governments. You only have to look at the empty factories, the closed post offices and bank branches, the shuttered shops and the derelict hotels to see that the state has let this area down badly. Although I have no academic training in Language Planning, it should be simple enough, you would think. Parents raise their children in the language they learnt from their own parents and the language survives. But if our young people are leaving the area to live and work, they won’t be raising a family surrounded by other families raising the children in Irish. That community is being broken and politics and economics can’t be filtered out of the equation. But it’s a massive opportunity also for the community at the moment because the state is saying that they are leaving it up to the local people to develop and implement their own language plan. It’s up to everyone to get involved and put pressure on the government to deliver the changes that the community needs.You are an elected member of Donegal County Council. What steps can the Council take to support the Gaeltacht?The Council has been deprived of funding by central government, so there is very little available in practical terms that the Council can do to support the Gaeltacht. However, I have spoken Irish at all Council meetings for the five years that I have been a Councillor. Other Councillors and some Council officials have accused me of being disruptive and obstructive for using my native language, so the Council could make it easier for native Irish speakers like me to use the language in their official duties. It is part of the process of pushing the Irish language out to the margins.The policy seems to be, “Speak Irish among yourselves as much as you want, but don’t expect to speak it to us.” I accept that they have made important changes to allow me to use Irish but more could be done. As part of my duties, I meet a lot of people from day to day andtheir stories can be inspiring and heartbreaking. I meet older people regularly who only get to see their grandchildren every two or three years because their children are living thousands of miles away. They worry about who is going to look after them when they get too old to care for themselves. Is this the future we want for our own children? I don’t think so. That is why we must organise ourselves to make real change happen, not just in the Gaeltacht, but throughout Ireland.You claim that the Gaeltacht has been marginalised by successive governments. How can this be changed?It’s not going to be easy. People are going to have to make concious decisions to change their own habits, especially regarding their use of Irish. They are going to have to continue to use Irish as the language of the home and support efforts to extend the use of Irish in the community. But they have to realise that voting for the same political parties as they always voted for is going to change nothing.I believe that the entire political and economic system has to be changed before we can reverse the damage that has been done to rural and Gaeltacht communities. That can be achieved by the community organising themselves to take action to protect the things that are important to them. It is in that context that I support the actions of the people who spray-painted the road signs.Councillor explains why he supports the ‘paint can’ activists of West Donegal was last modified: August 25th, 2019 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Cllr Micheal Mac Giolla EasbuigGAELTACHTsignsWest Donegal
Jerome Thomas could have a future at West Brom, according to Albion coach Kevin Keen.Thomas impressed during a recent loan spell at Leeds, whose manager Neil Warnock is keen to take him to Elland Road on a permanent basis.But Keen believes the Wembley-born winger may have a pivotal role to play during the second half of the season.“Jerome went to Leeds and got himself fit,” said Keen.“He could have a massive part to play here because of the injury situation. He could become a mainstay of the team.”Thomas came on as a substitute during the Baggies’ 1-1 draw at QPR in the FA Cup.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 Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
Social relief 13 November 2008 Found medically unfit to undertake remunerative work for a period of less than six monthsThe breadwinner in the family is deceased and insufficient means are availableThe applicant has been affected by a disaster and the specific area has not yet been declared a disaster area. Earlier in the year, the department allocated R124-million for social relief, of which more than 70% has already been used. “We encourage civil society and faith-based organisations to continue to raise awareness of the social relief of distress.” In order to qualify for social relief of distress, applicants must comply with one or more of the following conditions, including awaiting permanent aid: Social relief of distress is issued monthly or for any other period for a maximum period of three months, though extension of the period by a further three months may be granted in exceptional cases. Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya announced in Pretoria this week that the funds would provide relief to households or individuals facing hardship. Qualifying criteria The R500-million will be divided between the nine provinces, KwaZulu-Natal being the biggest beneficiary with R119-million, and the Eastern Cape receiving R100-million. Provinces will be expected to spend this money before the end of this financial year. The Department of Social Development has allocated a further R500-million to help the South African Social Security Agency’s provincial offices increase their social relief of distress programmes. Social relief of distress is a temporary provision of assistance intended for people facing hardships and unable to meet their or their families’ most basic needs. “This allocation reflects our commitment to address the challenges of rising food and fuel prices faced by many of our people,” he said. Source: BuaNews
The new cricket bat promises to keep the ball down while travelling to the slipsWe are often left wondering why there is so much fuss about the revolutions a football would take in the air and off the playing surface in the sport’s most prestigious tournament. But ball manufacturers confirm, the Brazuka 2014, Jabulani 2010, Teamgeist 2006 are different not just for their design but grip, touch, aerodynamics, everything varies from one football to another. For the same reason, a tennis player looks to get his racquet strings in tune with the heaviness of the playing surface.In the same context, for a game like cricket, the usage of playing equipment is the heaviest. A fully loaded batsmen about to enter the playing field may seem like a warrior out to battle, to someone unacquainted with the game. But the most talked about piece of equipment that has driven the game’s primary objective, run making, remains — a cricket bat. And with every passing day the bat making industry continues to innovate with ways and means to multiply run making opportunities for ‘the batsman’ – in many ways, the game’s royalty.Indian batsmen’s collective failure against the swinging ball led to their capitulation in the recently concluded test series against England. While it will take them countless man hours in the nets to come up with a better answer, the next time around, there is a new bat manufacturer in town who wants to lend a helping hand.Humming Whale Product Innovations, a company formed by a group of four ambitious IIT graduates delivers a cricket bat called Falcon Blade whose 3D tapering to the sides of the blade promises to keep the ball down while travelling to the slips, off the edge, taken of a swinging ball.advertisement”Compared to the normal trajectory of the ball after impact, this imparts a downward velocity of the ball making it travel to a safer region rather than looping up for a catch or going straight to the fielders. It would fall short and squarer. The 3D taper is designed in a way that it also gives a more forward component to the ball,” explains Ayush Jain, one of the architects of the new bat.The Falcon Blade imparts a downward velocity of the ball making it travel to a safer regionWhether this bat will go on to see the light of the day where it’s used by top class batsmen in international cricket is a matter of conjecture but that they haven’t modified with the essence of the bat works in their favour. “Unlike the Mongoose where the bat handle becomes significantly large and blade smaller, we haven’t done any such thing. Our idea is to merely work with the edges of the blade,” says Mirik Gogri, another of the quartet. Suresh Raina, taking queue from Matthew Hayden had used the Mongoose in top level T20 cricket until he gave it up, struggling to ‘defend’ with it.Even for a Virat Kohli who would have been happy to use a bat like Falcon in England, which could possibly have seen a few of his edges falling short of slips, the last thing he would want is to lose the sweet spot of the bat. Ayush dips in to allay the fears batsmen may have. “The slight shaving off the edges to optimize the design is not too large to impact the middle of the bat. The exact ratios of the taper can be modified depending on the player’s batting style, his stance and the type of pitch,” he says.Having worked in conjunction with a cricket simulation centre in Mumbai, Smaash, the results, they say are positive. “The results have been in agreement with our hypothesis. With respect to the edges, we saw the thick edges travel to the ground in front of second slip as compared to the 1st slip. The air friction was reduced by 3-4 per cent in case of the bat swing, which imparts more power to the shot,” says Ayush.The group of IITians who have decided to move off the beaten path and work on innovations are hoping the bat will sooner rather than later find its way in the Indian dressing room. “Since we formulated this bat to help the Indian team after seeing their 8 losses in a row in England and Australia in 2011, we do hope they benefit from it one day,” says Kshitij, one of the innovators.The quartet of engineers who have devised the bat have made some headway, getting the bat an MCC approval and finding for it a place in their archives.advertisementWith a high quality retired Indian batsmen also studying the findings of the science behind the bat to see if it can achieve the objective, the IITians are keeping their fingers crossed.
Percentage returning Stanford brings back a lot of talent this seasonPercentage of 2018 contributions produced by players returning in 2019 for top NCAA women’s volleyball programs 2018 RankTeamKillsAssistsDigsBlocksAces Stanford women’s volleyball faced a tough challenge just a week into the season, making a trip across the country last Wednesday to take on the then-No. 7 Florida Gators.But the match was hardly a struggle. The Cardinal — led by the trio of seniors Kathryn Plummer (21 kills), Jenna Gray (37 assists) and Morgan Hentz (15 digs) — dispatched Florida in straight sets, 25-22, 25-17, 25-19. Four days later, the team added a win over No. 3 Texas to improve to 4-0. As a result, Stanford was the unanimous top team in Monday’s coaches poll.The Cardinal finished 2018 with a 34-1 record, avenging its early-season loss to BYU in the national semifinals before beating Nebraska in the final. After rolling through the NCAA last season, the Cardinal return more of last year’s squad than almost any other top-ranked team.1The top 11 teams in last year’s end-of-season poll all started the 2019 season back in the top 11. But the road won’t be easy for the talented favorites, who will have to beat stalwarts from the Midwest and upstarts from the South.Stanford was the only school with three 2018 First-Team All-Americans, all of whom were juniors. The team’s biggest loss was middle blocker Tami Alade, a Second-Team All-American and the only senior who consistently played last season. Gray, the two-time defending Pac-12 Setter of the Year, was the only non-senior setter to earn First-Team All-American honors last year. Hentz, Mayor of Hentz-Ville, is the two-time defending Pac-12 Libero of the Year and last year’s Final Four Co-MVP.And then there’s Plummer, the two-time defending National Player of the Year, a dominant force on the outside who’s already racked up more awards than can comfortably fit on her bio page. Plummer, Hentz and Gray might be the NCAA’s top players at their respective positions. The trio has won a pair of titles together and may be in line for a third. 11Florida84.545.083.277.280.0 The toughest competition, as is often the case in volleyball, comes in the Big Ten, which claimed five of the top eight spots in the preseason coaches poll.The Wisconsin Badgers may present the biggest challenger to Stanford as the only top-11 team returning a higher percentage of contributions. The preseason coaches poll put Wisconsin fifth, behind Nebraska and Minnesota, but Big Ten coaches named UW the conference favorite. The Badgers looked the part early but suffered a pair of close losses to ranked teams over the weekend and will need to bounce back.Wisconsin is led by a junior class featuring Sydney Hilley, Dana Rettke and a redshirted Molly Haggerty. The 6-foot-8 Rettke, a nearly unstoppable blocker, spent the summer competing with the U.S. national team. Haggerty was the 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, but a back injury cost her all of 2017, and she struggled to return to form last year. Hilley, a Second-Team All-American, ranked fourth in the country in assists per set last year and is one of just three setters named to an All-American team who returns this season.And Illinois retained All-American outside hitter Jacqueline Quade from its Final Four team but lost setter Jordyn Poulter to graduation (she now plays on the national team). The Illini will likely replace her with Mica Allison — a transfer from Auburn, a former top recruit and one of the nation’s best underclassman setters. Illinois has also struggled early, losing a pair of matches this weekend, though Allison has barely played because of an injury.And perennial contenders Nebraska and Penn State enter the season with strong young teams. Nebraska, national champions in 2015 and 2017 and last year’s runners-up, can never be counted out, especially if setter Nicklin Hames makes a substantial leap her sophomore year. The Huskers are off to a 4-0 start with no seniors on the roster. Penn State has won at least 22 matches in each of the 41 seasons played under head coach Russ Rose. The Nittany Lions, with 15 underclassmen on their roster, have jumped out to a 5-0 record but face their first big test when Stanford comes to town on Friday.Minnesota made the biggest jump among last year’s top-10 teams, coming in third in the preseason rankings despite being upset by Oregon in last year’s regional semifinals. That loss marked the Gophers’ fourth-straight tournament upset; they were the No. 2 seed three of the last four years but haven’t reached the championship match since 2004. Replacing All-American setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson is the biggest challenge for the Gophers this year, who have struggled early this season.Outside the Big Ten, a pair of Big 12 Teams are off to hot starts. No. 3 Texas swept Minnesota and took Stanford to five sets. And Baylor, a program that hasn’t reached even the Sweet 16 in 10 years, shot up to No. 5 after winning at Wisconsin and at Marquette to reach 5-0.The under-the-radar contender could be Kentucky. The SEC favorite is one of the best teams in terms of returning contributors. Junior setter Madison Lilley will try to make a case for player of the year, and there’s plenty of All-American talent around the roster.2Lilley and Leah Edmond were Second-Team All-Americans, while Gabby Curry was an honorable mention But the Wildcats struggled out of the gates, suffering an early-season straight-sets upset at the hands of then-unranked Utah.Stanford’s early-season challenges are far from over: The Cardinal face three top Big Ten teams in the next week, culminating next Wednesday with a rematch of the national championship game against Nebraska. And there will be challenges throughout the year from other top teams, especially come December. But if last year is any indication, the Cardinal will be ready. The programs that finished last season ranked in the top 11 last year were all ranked in the top 11 in the 2019 preseason poll.Sources: School websites, ACVA rankings 1Stanford85.1%99.9%98.4%68.7%98.8% 3Illinois76.613.579.949.870.4 9Oregon22.214.171.1247.740.2 8Wisconsin86.199.798.982.099.3 5Texas54.398.790.832.486.2 4BYU55.210.741.764.943.3 7Minnesota92.111.768.485.447.9 2Nebraska69.489.057.083.954.0 10Kentucky82.098.387.471.272.8 6Penn State57.615.666.566.669.0