Stanford voted 2016 Pac-12 preseason favorite

SAN FRANCISCO - The 12 league women’s volleyball coaches voted STANFORD the Pac-12 preseason favorite, the Conference office announced on Wednesday. The Cardinal received nine first-place votes and collected 119 points to earn the top spot in the polling. UCLA was second with 103 points and WASHINGTON rounded out the top three, garnering 99 points.

In addition to the annual coaches poll, the Pac-12 announced the Preseason All-Pac-12 team, as voted on by the league coaches. Nine of the 14 all-Conference honorees from a year ago appear on the 14-player preseason squad, and one all-Conference honoree from 2014 is also on the list.

Stanford returns four starters from last year’s squad that finished third in the Pac-12, including AVCA National Freshman of the Year and All-American Hayley Hodson. Also back for this season is redshirt senior Inky Ajanaku, who sat out last year because of an injury. She was an All-American in 2014 and was one of the leading candidates for player of the year.

The Bruins, who received one first-place vote, welcome back Pac-12 Libero of the Year Taylor Formico. UCLA was fourth in the standings last year, as well as All-American Jordan Anderson. The Huskies, who also received a first-place vote, have five newcomers joining a squad with seven veterans.

OREGON is fourth in the polling with 95 points, followed by co-Pac-12 Champion USC with 85 points, earning one first-place vote, as well. Second in the Pac-12 in digs last year, the Ducks will look to senior libero Amanda Benson to lead the squad, while Trojan head coach and AVCA National Coach of the Year Mick Haley will have the challenge of replacing AVCA National Player of the Year Samantha Bricio.

ARIZONA wraps up the top half of the polling, coming in sixth with 72 points, returning the crux of the attack in senior Kalei Mau, who was third overall in points in the Pac-12 in 2016. All six teams in the top half of the poll earned NCAA Tournament berths last year.

COLORADO, which had its best showing in the Pac-12 last year placing fifth, is seventh in the preseason poll with 50 points. The Buffs will be under the direction under new head coach Jesse Mahoney. UTAH came in eighth with 48 points, just ahead of WASHINGTON STATE (46 points). The Utes welcome back the top-returning point scorer from last year in Adora Anae, who contributed 4.71 points per game. The Cougars will look to senior Kyra Holt who has been the linchpin on the WSU attack since arriving on campus, ranking seventh in the Conference in points last year.

In 10th place in the poll is CALIFORNIA with 27 points, one point ahead of ARIZONA STATE. The Golden Bears has highly-touted freshmen joining the team in 2016. The Sun Devils this season will be under the direction of first-time head coach Stevie Mussie. Also looking to new head coach Mark Barnard this season, OREGON STATE finished 12th with 22 points.

2016 Pac-12 Volleyball Coaches Poll

1. Stanford (9) 119
2. UCLA (1) 103
3. Washington (1) 99
4. Oregon 95
5. USC (1) 85
6. Arizona 72
7. Colorado 50
8. Utah 48
9. Washington State 46
10. California 27
11. Arizona State 26
12. Oregon State 22


Brittany Abercrombie, USC^ OPP 6-2 JR Carlsbad, Calif. 
Inky Ajanaku, STAN MB 6-3 RJR Tusla, Okla.
Adora Anae, UTAH^ OH 6-1 JR Laie, Hawaii
Jordan Anderson, UCLA^ OH 6-0 SR Flower Mound, Texas
Haley Hodson, STAN^ OH 6-0 SO Newport Beach, Calif.
Kyra Holt, WSU^ OH 6-1 SR Hercules, Calif.
Crissy Jones, WASH OH/MB 6-2 JR Loa Alamitos, Calif.
Merete Lutz, STAN^ MB 6-8 RJR Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Mary Kate Marshall, OSU OH 6-1 JR Coppell, Texas
Kalei Mau, ARIZ^ OH 6-1 SR Kahaluu, Hawaii
Tia Scambray, WASH OH 6-0 JR Dana Point, Calif.
Gabby Simpson, COLO S 6-3 JR Colorado Springs, Colo.
Penina Snuka, ARIZ^ S 5-6 SR Gilbert, Ariz.
Lindsey Vander Weide, ORE^ OH 6-3 SO Turlock, Calif.

^2015 All-Pac-12 team

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