Pac-10 Women's Volleyball Preview
The Pac-10 continues to be the premiere conference for women's volleyball. The Conference of Champions has captured five of the last nine NCAA crowns. Eight teams earned postseason bids in 2009, marking the ninth consecutive year the Conference has seen at least six teams in the NCAA Tournament. In each of the last five years, the Pac-10 has had 10 or more All-America selections, including 13 in 2009. Pac-10 teams continue to haul in their share of Volleyball Magazine FAB 50 recruits. This season, 14 FAB 50 selections will appear on the court for five Pac-10 institutions. The Pac-10's freshman class features more FAB 50 recruits than any other conference. The Conference looks to continue its tradition of success in 2010, with 7 teams ranked in the AVCA Preseason Top 25.
STANFORD has been chosen by the league's coaches to win its fifth-consecutive Pac-10 championship this season. The Cardinal returns six starters, including three senior All-Americans - libero Gabi Ailes, outside hitter Alix Klineman and outside hitter/setter Cassidy Lichtman. Head coach John Dunning also welcomes a freshman class ranked third nationally by PrepVolleyball.com.
WASHINGTON, last year's runner-up in the Pac-10, was picked second. Powering the Husky offense are senior outside hitters Kindra Carlson and Becky Perry, and junior middle blocker Bianca Rowland. Carlson and Rowland were AVCA All-Americans in 2009 and Perry was an All-Pac-10 performer in 2008.
USC rounds out the top three. The Women of Troy return six starters, including All-Pac-10 junior outside hitter Alex Jupiter and setter Kendall Bateman, who led the nation in assists last season. USC welcomes the top-ranked freshman class in the nation, led by the No. 1 recruit, outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana.
ARIZONA is led by three senior Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selections in libero Paige Weber and outside hitters Tiffany Owens and Whitney Dosty. After returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005, the Wildcats have even higher expectations for 2010. CALIFORNIA enters the season on the heels of three straight appearances in the Regional Finals of the NCAA Tournament. Directing the Golden Bear offense is All-American senior setter Cari Lloyd. Cal returns a productive duo in Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 junior outside hitter Tarah Murrey and sophomore middle hitter Correy Johnson, a Pac-10 All-Freshman team pick last season.
OREGON is coming off four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Leading the way for the Ducks will be senior outside hitter Heather Meyers, Oregon's active leader in double-doubles. Oregon also has a trio of returning sophomore starters in liberos Haley Jacobs and Kellie Kawasaki and outside hitter Katherine Fischer. UCLA starts anew era with first-year head coach Mike Sealy following the retirement of the sport's winningest coach Andy Banachowski. The Bruins return 11 letterwinners from last season, including two Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selections, senior outside hitter Dicey McGraw and junior libero Lainey Gera.
ARIZONA STATE returns senior outside hitter Sarah Reaves and senior libero Sarah Johnson, two of the best players at their positions in Sun Devil history. With the addition of a group of highly-touted recruits, ASU looks to elevate the program to new heights. WASHINGTON STATE is coming off its first NCAA Tournament appearance and first winning season since 2002. Sophomore libero Oceana Bush and junior Meagan Ganzer are experience returning starters for 2009 Pac-10 Coach of the Year Andrew Palileo. OREGON STATE will rely on seniors Jill Sawatzky and Kiersten Sambrailo and sophomore Ashley Eneliko.
Check out the team-by-team previews at the links below: