No. 1 Stanford Leads Seven Ranked Pac-12 Teams in AVCA Poll
SAN FRANCISCO - STANFORD was tabbed the No. 1 team in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) 2018 Preseason Coaches Poll, which was announced today. The Cardinal received 43 of 64 first-place votes, leading seven ranked Pac-12 teams, the most teams for any conference in the top 25.
The 2017 Pac-12 Champion, Stanford returns five starters and its libero, including AVCA and Pac-12 Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer, Pac-12 Setter of the Year Jenna Gray and Pac-12 Libero of the Year Morgan Hentz. Second-year head coach Kevin Hambly also welcomes back AVCA All-Americans Tami Alade and Audriana Fitzmorris. All five returning starters were members of the 2016 squad that claimed the NCAA title.
Ranked No. 10, USC is under the direction of Brent Crouch, who is entering his first year at the Trojan helm. Sophomore All-American Khalia Lanier leads the team that tied for second in the Pac-12 last season and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. Ranked No. 11, UCLA has just two seniors on the squad, including Kyra Rogers, as well as the second-best scorer on the team last year, sophomore Jenny Mosser, the team’s top-returning scorer.
COLORADO earns a No. 15 ranking after tying for fifth in the Conference with UCLA last year. The Buffs have the majority of last year’s squad that advanced to the round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament, including AVCA All-Pacific South Freshman of the Year Brynna Deluzio. Coming in at No. 17, WASHINGTON returns just one senior from a squad that tied for second in the league last season, but adds a top-three nationally-ranked recruiting class this season.
OREGON was rated No. 18 in the national poll. The Ducks went .500 in Pac-12 play but still advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. They have four starters back for 2018 and another five letterwinners to build on last year’s season.
Rounding out the ranked squads in the league, UTAH is No. 19 after recording its best season as a member of the Pac-12. The Utes were fourth in the Pac-12, earned its highest seeding in the NCAA Tournament (No. 11) and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Entering her 29th season at the Utah helm, head coach Beth Launiere welcomes four starters from last year’s squad.
Also receiving votes in the polling were OREGON STATE and WASHINGTON STATE. Both received NCAA Tournament bids, the Utes winning a program-record tying 11 league games. WSU made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 2000 and 2001.
The Pac-12 sent nine teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2017, seven of which advanced to the second round. It marked the 12th-consecutive year the Conference had at least six tournament berths. League teams have also won a NCAA-record 15 national championships.
The regular-season begins Friday, Aug. 24. Pac-12 Networks is also set to air 88 matches this season, beginning with the a doubleheader as part of the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge on Friday, Aug. 31 and Saturday, Sept. 1, featuring the Huskies and Buffs versus Illinois and Iowa.
For the full 2018 Pac-12 volleyball schedule, visit pac-12.com.