Volleyball coaches vote Stanford 2014 preseason favorite

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SAN FRANCISCO - In a polling of the Pac-12 Conference’s 12 women’s volleyball coaches, STANFORD was voted the favorite to win the 2014 regular season, the Conference office announced today. The Cardinal, who finished second last season, nabbed the top spot with 114 points, just one point more than USC.

In addition to the annual coaches poll, the Pac-12 announced the Preseason All-Pac-12 team, as voted on by the league coaches. 10 of the 14 all-Conference honorees from a year ago appear on the 15-player preseason squad (there was a tie for last place), including seven first-, second- or third-team AVCA All-Americans.

Both Stanford and USC had five first-place votes each, with defending champion WASHINGTON receiving the last two and 106 points to place third.

The Cardinal return a lineup that includes four All-Americans and a pair of all-conference picks. Led by Hall of Fame coach John Dunning, Stanford will be seeking its Conference-record 16th crown this season. Stanford has five starters returning from last year’s team that finished second in the Pac-12 standings, including four preseason all-Conference selections as well as the 2013 Pac-12 Setter of the Year Madi Bugg.

USC has a packed lineup this season, led by the last two Pac-12’s Freshman of the Year and Volleyball Magazine’s National Freshmen of the Year in junior Samantha Bricio (2012), also an AVCA All-American in 2013, and Ebony Nwanebu (2013).

Defending Pac-12 Champion WASHINGTON is third in the poll and will look to the 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year Krista Vansant to lead the team in defense of its title, its first since 2005 and third overall. The Huskies are also coming off a trip to the national semifinals last year, the first 2006 and second since winning the NCAA title in 2005.

ARIZONA STATE was fourth in the polling with 73 points, the team’s highest since being picked to finish that high in 1999. The Sun Devils are coming off back-to-back seasons with NCAA Tournament appearances. Both CALIFORNIA and OREGON collected 70 points each to tie for fifth in the polling. Both teams have made recent trips to the NCAA title match, with the Golden Bears advancing that far in 2010, while the Ducks did so in 2012.

Predicted to finish seventh this season is COLORADO with 62 points. The Buffs are coming off a season where they earned an NCAA Tournament bid, the team’s first since 2006. UCLA, the 2011 NCAA Champion, was eighth with 58 points, followed by ARIZONA with 51 points. The Wildcats won its first-round match for the firs time since 2005. UTAH also had a standout season earning its first NCAA Tournament bid last year since 2008. With 25 points, WASHINGTON STATE is 11th in the poll, with OREGON STATE placing 12th with 11 points.

Pac-12 volleyball is coming off a historic season with a league-record nine teams earning NCAA Tournament bids in 2013. UW’s appearance in the national semifinals marked the fourth-consecutive year a Conference team has advanced that far. Four teams ended the season ranked in the final AVCA Coaches Poll, including three in the top 10, as eight different Pac-12 teams earned top-25 rankings at some point during the 2013 season.

The regular season is set to begin Friday, Aug. 29. This year, again, Pac-12 volleyball teams will have unprecedented television coverage with 96 matches being broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks and an additional three will be nationally televised on ESPNU. For the full regular-season schedule, including televised matches and listings, visit www.pac-12.com.


1 Stanford (5) 114
2 USC (5) 113
3 Washington (2) 106
4 Arizona State 73
T5 California 70
T5. Oregon 70
7 Colorado 62
8 UCLA 58
9 Arizona 51
10 Utah 39
11 Washington State 25
12 Oregon State 11


Inky Ajanaku, STAN MB 6-3 Jr. Tulsa, Okla.
Liz Brenner, ORE OH 6-1 Sr. Portland, Ore.
Samantha Bricio, USC OH 6-2 So. Guadalajara, Mexico
Madi Bugg, STAN S 6-0 Jr. Apex, N.C.
Jordan Burgess, STAN OH 6-1 Jr. Fort Meyers, Fla.
Macey Gardner, ASU OH 6-0 Jr. Gilbert, Ariz.
Christina Higgins, CAL OH 6-2 Sr. Inglewood, Calif.
Kyra Holt, WSU OH 6-1 So. Hercules, Calif.
Brittany Howard, STAN OH 6-3 Jr. Los Altos, Calif.
Madi Kingdon, ARIZ OH 6-1 Sr. Phoenix, Ariz.
Karsta Lowe, UCLA OH 6-4 Sr. Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Kaleigh Nelson, WASH OH 6-0 Sr. Salem, Ore.
Ebony Nwanebu, USC OH 6-4 So. Fairview, Texas
Taylor Simpson, COLO OH 6-3 Sr. Colorado Springs, Colo.
Krista Vansant, WASH OH 6-2 Sr. Redlands, Calif.

* The Preseason All-Pac-12 team is made up of 14 individual members with the highest points totals. There are 15 members this year because there was a tie for last place.

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