Four Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 15 by AVCA
John McGillen/USC Athletics
SAN FRANCISCO - Four Pac-12 volleyball schools were voted in the top-25 of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Preseason Coaches poll, which was released on Wednesday. Last year’s league co-champions USC and WASHINGTON were the highest-ranked teams, both tying for seventh in the country.
USC and WASHINGTON will look different this year, each welcoming several new faces. The Trojans (33-3, 18-2 Pac-12) will have to replace last year’s AVCA National Player of the Year Samantha Bricio, but the AVCA National Coach of the Year Mick Haley welcomes the Volleyball Magazine No. 1 prospect in the country in Khalia Lanier, as well as welcoming back three seniors, including libero Taylor Whittingham, who was a third-team Volleyball Magazine All-American.
The Huskies lost six seniors from last year’s championship squad and has just one senior, who is a transfer. Second-year head coach Keegan Cook will have to look to a junior class that finds itself as the veteran group among a young roster. In his first season, Cook led UW to a 31-3 mark and 16-4 in the Conference.
Third in last year’s standings, STANFORD (23-7, 16-4 Pac-12) received one first-place vote and is ranked 11th in the nation in the preseason. Returning to the Cardinal squad is AVCA National Freshman of the Year Hayley Hodson who made an immediate impact in her rookie campaign, also earning second team All-America nods. Back this year after being out for a season because of injury is redshirt senior Inky Ajanaku, who was a national player of the year contender prior to her injury last summer. She was tabbed the Volleyball Magazine National Player of the Year after her junior year in 2014.
UCLA comes in 12th in the national polling, with senior Taylor Formico and Taylor Anderson leading the Bruin charge. Formico was the 2016 Pac-12 Libero of the Year while Anderson earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 team. As a squad, the Bruins were fourth in the 2015 standings with a 14-6 league mark and posting an overall record of 25-8.
OREGON, ARIZONA and ARIZONA STATE also received votes in the preseason polling. The Pac-12 is coming off a season where seven teams earned NCAA Tournament berths, marking the 16th-consecutive season the Conference has received at least six postseason berths.
The 2016 volleyball season begins Friday, August 26. For full team schedules and the television broadcast schedule, visit pac-12.com.