Stanford Volleyball voted Pac-12 preseason favorite again
SAN FRANCISCO - For the second-straight year, the 12 league women’s volleyball coaches voted defending NCAA and Pac-12 Champion STANFORD the preseason favorite to win the regular season in 2019, the Conference office announced on Monday. The Cardinal received all 11 possible votes for 121 points to come out first in the polling for the sixth time in seven years. USC comes in second in the poll with 104 points, while OREGON is third with 99 points, receiving the only other first-place vote.
In addition to the annual coaches poll, the Pac-12 announced the Preseason All-Pac-12 team, as voted on by the league coaches. Ten of the 14 all-Conference honorees from a year ago appear on the 14-player preseason squad this year, including eight 2018 AVCA All-Americans and two-time AVCA National Player of the Year and Pac-12 Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer of Stanford.
Returning five letterwinners and its top libero from last season’s national championship and 20-0 in league-play squad, the Cardinal are the heavy favorite to repeat as Pac-12 Champion. Head coach Kevin Hambly welcomes back four All-Americans, the two-time national player of the year and signed the top recruiting class in the nation.
USC has last year’s top freshman in the Conference returning. 2018 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year sophomore Raquel Lazáro had the highest assist average in the nation among freshmen last season, leading the Trojans to the NCAA Tournament in head coach Brent Crouch’s then-first season. The Ducks had its best finish since 2012, tying for second in 2018. They welcome back All-American Ronika Stone in 2019, as well as another top-10 recruiting class.
WASHINGTON had 98 points to place fourth in the standings. After the Huskies finished uncharacteristically out of the top two, which it had done for five-consecutive seasons from 2013-17. UW will look to senior All-American Kara Bajema to lead the team this season. UTAH collected 68 points for fifth place in the preseason poll. The Utes are coming off its best season since joining the Pac-12, finishing fourth with junior All-American Dani Drews as the go-to.
With 65 points, ARIZONA placed just ahead of UCLA (63 points) to rank sixth and seventh, respectively. The Wildcats look to make a second-straight trip, and sixth in seven years, to the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins missed out on the NCAA Tournament last season, but had key wins over five ranked opponents, barely missing out on the postseason.
Tied for eighth are CALIFORNIA and WASHINGTON STATE, tallying 45 points each. Cal is under the direction of a new head coach with Sam Crosson making a return to Berkeley after spending seven seasons turning around the Cal Poly program. WSU is coming off its most successful three-year stretch, making the NCAA Tournament each season during that span, including a trip to the regional semifinal last year.
COLORADO (44 points), ARIZONA STATE (23 points) and OREGON STATE (17 points) round out the polling in 10th, 11th and 12th place, respectively. The Buffs have eight letterwinners back from last season’s NCAA Tournament team. ASU had three big wins over ranked league teams last year and has an experienced team back. The Beavers also return key contributors after dealing with several injuries last season.
The 2019 volleyball campaign begins on Friday, Aug. 30. Pac-12 Networks is slated to televise 88 regular-season matches, beginning on September 8. For a full schedule and more information, visit pac-12.com.
The top-collegiate conference in the country, the Pac-12 has won a NCAA-record 16 national championships with STANFORD winning national-leading eighth NCAA title all-time and second in three years. Eight Pac-12 teams earned NCAA Tournament bids in 2018, the most of any league. It marked the fifth time in the last six years at least eight teams received bids.
Below are the results of the 2018 Pac-12 preseason coaches’ poll; coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams (points: 11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses).
2019 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL COACHES POLL
2019 PRESEASON ALL-PAC-12 WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM
|Kara Bajema, WASH^||OH||6-2||SR||Lynden, Wash.|
|Brooke Botkin, USC^||OH||6-2||JR||Houston, Texas|
|Dani Drews, UTAH^||OH||6-0||JR||Sandy, Utah|
|Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN^||OH||6-6||SR||Overland Park, Kan.|
|Madeleine Gates, STAN||MB||6-3||SR||San Diego, Calif.|
|Jenna Gray, STAN^||S||6-1||SR||Shawnee, Kan.|
|Morgan Hentz, STAN^||L||5-9||SR||Lakeside Park, Ky.|
|Willow Johnson, ORE||OH||6-3||SR||Paradise Valley, Ariz.|
|Khalia Lanier, USC^||OH||6-2||SR||Scottsdale, Ariz.|
|Raquel Lazáro, USC||S||6-0||SO||Córdoba, Spain|
|Mac May, UCLA^||OH||6-3||JR||Dubuque, Iowa|
|Brooke Nuneviller, ORE||OH/L||5-11||SO||Chandler, Ariz.|
|Kathryn Plummer, STAN^#||OH||6-6||SR||Aliso Viejo, Calif.|
|Ronika Stone, ORE^||MB||6-2||SR||San Jose, Calif.|
^2018 All-Pac-12 team; #2017-18 Pac-12 Player of the Year
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