Four Pac-12 volleyball teams ranked in AVCA preseason Top 25
SAN FRANCISCO - Four Pac-12 Conference women’s volleyball teams were ranked in the initial American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Preseason Coaches poll, with three of those teams appearing in the top five, the AVCA released today. STANFORD was ranked third, followed by WASHINGTON in fourth and USC was fifth.
Stanford collected 1,356 points and seven first-place votes to come in third in the polling. The Huskies were fourth with 1,280 points while the Trojans’ 1,272 points were enough for fifth place. USC also received two first-place votes. ARIZONA STATE was 25th in the polling.
The Cardinal, who was picked to win the 2014 Pac-12 regular season by the league’s 12 coaches, returns virtually every starter from last year’s squad that was second overall in the Pac-12 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament regional final last year. Led by Hall of Fame head coach John Dunning, Stanford has All-Americans Inky Ajanaku and Madi Bugg returning. Bugg was also the Pac-12 Setter of the Year last year.
The Huskies had one of their most memorable seasons last year, winning their third Pac-12 title all-time, and first since 2005. Led by 2013 Pac-12 Coach of the Year Jim McLaughlin and Pac-12 Player of the Year Krista Vansant, UW advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals, its best showing in the event since 2006. Vansant returns, as does fellow All-American Kaleigh Nelson.
USC hall of fame coach Mick Haley has a pair of All-Americans returning, as well, in Samantha Bricio and 2013 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Ebony Nwanebu. The Trojans placed third in last year’s tight Conference race that separated the top-three teams by just two matches. After a strong regular season, USC advanced to the NCAA Tournament regional finals where it was knocked out in a five-set thriller by Conference-rival Washington.
ASU has made a recent turnaround, making back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances after a five-year absence. The Sun Devils will be led by All-Pac-12 honoree Macey Gardner, who has been the team’s kills leader since arriving in Tempe two years ago.
Also receiving votes in the preseason polling were OREGON, CALIFORNIA, ARIZONA, COLORADO and UCLA.
Pac-12 teams are scheduled to open the regular season on Friday, Aug. 29. Pac-12 volleyball teams will once again receive unprecedented television exposure with 96 matches broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks and an additional three will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
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