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July 31-Pepperdine is a unanimous favorite to repeat as WCC champions as the Waves claimed the top spot in the 2002 WCC preseason poll, as selected by the conference coaches

SAN BRUNO, CA - Pepperdine is a unanimous favorite to repeat as WCC champions as the Waves claimed the top spot in the 2002 WCC preseason poll, as selected by the conference coaches. Pepperdine, the preseason favorite the last four years, went a perfect 14-0 during conference play last season, the seventh time the Waves have finished the year with an unblemished WCC record. Seven-time WCC Coach of the Year, Nina Matthies will have plenty to work with as the Waves return five starters and welcome in the #8 ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to Volleyball Magazine. Headlining the list of returning starters is second team all-American and WCC Player of the Year, Katie Wilkins. Also returning for the Waves will be all-pacific region selection Stacey Rouwenhorst and All-WCC members Lyndsey Hache and Paola Rodriguez. Pepperdine enters the 2002 season ranked #6 in the nation in Volleyball Magazine??s preseason poll.

Santa Clara comes in second followed closely by San Diego and Loyola Marymount in this year??s WCC poll. A mere four points separate the second through fourth teams. In 2001, Santa Clara earned their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and with five starters and eight letterwinners returning, all signs point to the Broncos returning to the postseason in 2002. A pair of returning all-conference middleblockers, junior Becky Potter and sophomore Toni Muratore, should ensure a successful season for the Broncos.

Right on Santa Clara??s heels at number three is San Diego, which returns four starters and six letterwinners. After a one year hiatus from the postseason the Toreros returned in 2001 and upset then #24 UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the Tournament. The Toreros welcome back 2001 Freshman of the Year and All-WCC outside hitter Devon Forster, All-WCC member Noel Frohman and WCC honorable mention, Debra Robertson.

Loyola Marymount, voted fourth in the preseason poll, returns all six starters and 11 letterwinners from last seasons 15-10 squad, including all-conference performers Kristin Gallup and Kealani Kimball. After finishing sixth in the conference last season, San Francisco comes in at #5 in the preseason poll. Lady Dons senior Teresa Russell looks to rebound from a knee injury that prematurely ended her junior season. Portland comes in at sixth followed by Gonzaga at seventh and Saint Mary??s at eighth to round out the rest of this year??s poll.