August 11- Both Pepperdine and Santa Clara are considered by many to be major contenders for the 2003 NCAA volleyball title as reflected by the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll released today. The Waves garnered a #5 ranking, while the Broncos were slated at #14. USC, the reigning NCAA Division I national women's volleyball champion, pulled in 64 of a possible 65 first-place votes to out-distance second-place Hawai'i by 106 points.
The Waves are coming off a 26-7 record in which they advanced to the "Elite Eight" of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history and concluded the year ranked No. 6 in the final AVCA poll.
Pepperdine is led by seniors Katie Wilkins and Lyndsey Hache'. Wilkins, an outside hitter, earned second team All-American honors, All-Pacific Region accolades and was chosen the WCC's "Player of the Year" in 2002. Hache', a middle blocker, was an All-Pacific Region and first team All-WCC selection a year ago. Sophomore outside hitter Breegan Mulligan returns for her second season after being selected the WCC's "Freshman of the Year" last season.
Pepperdine's schedule includes six opponents who are ranked in this year's preseason Top 25 poll. USC (No. 1), UC Santa Barbara (9), Arizona (10), UCLA (13), Santa Clara (14) and Wisconsin (17) all received preseason rankings.
For the third straight year the Santa Clara University women's volleyball team begins the season ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches' Association Preseason Top-25 poll. The Broncos began the 2001 season with the No. 22 ranking and the 2002 season with the No. 24 ranking.
SCU will take on five teams in the top-10, playing Arizona and Nebraska at their respective tournaments. Hawaii will be the home opener for the Broncos on September 28 in front of a national television audience when College Sports TV broadcasts the game as part of their AVCA Game of the Week package. Santa Clara will also take on Pepperdine twice during league play before wrapping up the 2003 regular season with a home match against Stanford on November 25.
In addition to the action against top-10 teams, the Broncos will also take on No. 12 Georgia Tech, No. 24 California and No. 25 Michigan State, giving SCU one of the toughest schedules in the country.
8. Northern Iowa
9. UC Santa Barbara
11. Penn State
12. Georgia Tech
14. Santa Clara
15. Kansas State
16. Long Beach State
18. Ohio State
19. Washington State
20. North Carolina
25. Michigan State