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Three West Coast Conference schools nabbed spots in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll, released Monday

Three West Coast Conference schools nabbed spots in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll, released Monday. Pepperdine took the #17 spot, Santa Clara came in at #22 and Loyola Marymount earned the #24 spot on the poll. San Diego also received votes in this year??s poll.

Pepperdine finished the 2000 season with their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament, 11 in all. The Waves amassed a 24-7 overall record last season, defeating four nationally ranked opponents, and appearing among the nation??s leaders in hitting percentage all season.

Top returnees for the Waves include First Team All-WCC senior setter Melissa Plass; First Team All-WCC junior middle blocker Stacy Rouwenhorst; and Second Team All-WCC senior middle blocker Kate Taylor.

2000 WCC champions Santa Clara ended last season with their first conference title since 1993, three First Team All-WCC members, and a #17 USA Today/AVCA ranking. The Broncos hosted their first NCAA tournament match and defeated Sacramento State in three sets, before losing a heartbreaking five set match to Long Beach State.

Santa Clara will look to their top returnees, including senior Jami Bari and sophomore Becky Potter, for leadership and guidance in earning their fourth consecutive NCAA appearance in 2001.

Loyola Marymount, who lost the nation??s kill leader Sarah McFarland, will now look to sophomores Nicole Oehlman and Tiana Newsome to guide them to another 20-plus win season in 2001 and their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

Oehlman, an AVCA All-Region team member, averaged 13.41 assists per game and 2.17 digs per game last season. Newsome set a new freshman blocking record with a 1.46 average, and came four blocks shy of setting a new single-season mark during her first season with the Lions.

Defending NCAA Champion Nebraska was the overwhelming favorite in the poll, garnering 63 of the 65 first-place votes. USC ranked second with two first-place votes and rounding out the top five are Penn State, Wisconsin and Hawai`i. The WCC 2001 season opens August 31 with all eight teams in action around the country.

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