Stanford picked to repeat as Pac-12 volleyball champs

SAN FRANCISCO - The 12 league women’s volleyball coaches voted 2017 Pac-12 Champion STANFORD the preseason favorite to win the regular season in 2018, the Conference office announced on Wednesday. The Cardinal received all 11 possible votes for 121 points to come out first in the polling for the fifth time in six years. USC received the only other first-place vote and collected 100 points for second place, while OREGON is third with 96 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 this year, including the 2017 AVCA National Player of the Year and Pac-12 Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer of Stanford.

The Cardinal are the overwhelming favorite as it prepares to welcome back five starters from last year’s squad that advanced to the NCAA semifinal, including Plummer, Pac-12 Setter of the Year Jenna Gray and Morgan Hentz, who was tabbed the Pac-12 Libero of the Year. All three players were also key figures in the Cardinal’s run to the NCAA title two years ago. Stanford was also voted the No. 1 in the nation in the AVCA preseason poll.

No. 10 in the preseason national coaches poll, USC returns All-American and leading scorer junior Khalia Lanier, who intends to lead a squad that is under the direction of first-year head coach Brent Crouch. The Ducks have three of their top five offensive performers and look to build on a NCAA Tournament second-round appearance from last season.

UCLA came in fourth in the polling with 90 points. The Bruins have a pair of seniors on the squad and finished tied for fifth in the Conference last year with COLORADO. The Buffs, who come in fifth in the coaches poll with 89 points, have AVCA All-Pacific South Freshman of the Year Brynna Deluzio back to lead the squad.

WASHINGTON is just two years removed from winning back-to-back Pac-12 titles and was voted to finish sixth by the league’s coaches (73 points). It is the Huskies’ lowest predicted finish since 2003. WASHINGTON STATE is seventh in poll, collecting 64 points, returning its primary blocking core that ranked sixth in the NCAA total blocks.

UTAH picked up 47 points to place eighth in the coaches polling. The Utes are coming off their best showing in the Pac-12 since joining the league, finishing fourth in the standings and advancing to the NCAA Tournament third round in 2017. Utah edged ARIZONA, which collected 46 points for ninth place. The Wildcats look to bounce back from a underperforming season last year, with the help of all starters returning. Coming off a historic season which saw the Beavs win a program-record tying 11 league matches, OREGON STATE followed with 27 points for 10th. ARIZONA STATE (24) and CALIFORNIA (15) round out the polling. The Sun Devils have five upperclassmen to help lead the team, while the Golden Bears have a new head coach on the sideline in Jennifer Dorr.

The AVCA National Preseason Coaches Poll was released last week and the Pac-12 led the nation with seven ranked teams. In addition to the Cardinal earning the top ranking in the country, USC was tabbed No. 10, followed by No. 11 UCLA, No. 15 Colorado, No. 17 Washington and No. 19 Utah. Oregon State and Washington State received votes.

The 2018 volleyball campaign begins on Friday, Aug. 24. Pac-12 Networks is slated to televise 88 regular-season matches, beginning with a doubleheader on Friday, Aug. 31. For a full schedule and more information, visit pac-12.com.

2018 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL COACHES POLL

1. Stanford (11) 121
2. USC (1) 100
3. Oregon 96
4. UCLA 90
5. Colorado 89
6. Washington 73
7. Washington State 64
8. Utah 47
9. Arizona 46
10. Oregon State 27
11. Arizona State 24
12. California 15

2018 PRESEASON ALL-PAC-12 WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM

PLAYER, TEAM POS. HT. YR. HOMETOWN
Naghede Abu, COLO MB 6-4 SR Riverside, Calif.
Kara Bajema, WASH OH 6-2 JR Lynden, Wash.
Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN^ OH 6-6 JR Overland Park, Kan.
Madeleine Gates, UCLA^ MB 6-3 JR San Diego, Calif.
Jenna Gray, STAN^ S 6-1 JR Shawnee, Kan.
Morgan Hentz, STAN^ L 5-9 JR Lakeside Park, Ky.
Khalia Lanier, USC^ OH 6-2 JR Scottsdale, Ariz.
Mac May, UCLA OH 6-3 SO Dubuque, Iowa
Taylor Mims, WSU^ OH 6-3 SR Billings, Mont.
Berkeley Oblad, UTAH MB 6-4 SR Henderson, Nev.
Kathryn Plummer, STAN^# OH 6-6 JR Aliso Viejo, Calif.
Alexa Smith, COLO^ OH 6-1 SR Colorado Springs, Colo.
Ronika Stone, ORE^ MB 6-2 JR San Jose, Calif.
Lindsey Vander Weide, ORE OH 6-3 SR Turlock, Calif.

^2017 All-Pac-12 team; #Pac-12 Player of the Year

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