Aug. 3, 2006
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - The University of San Diego women's volleyball team was tabbed to finish third in the West Coast Conference chase this season in a preseason vote of the conference coaches.
Santa Clara University was picked as the unanimous favoriteto repeat as West Coast Conference champions in 2006. The Broncos racked up64 points, receiving all eight first place votes to sweep the poll.Pepperdine was picked to finish second with 55 points. San Diego was tappedfor third place with 45 points, while Saint Mary's (36) nudged past LoyolaMarymount (35) for fourth. San Francisco (27), Gonzaga (17) and Portland (9)took the sixth through eighth spots, respectively.
Santa Clara recorded its best season in school history in 2005, taking itsfirst WCC title since 2000 and reaching the NCAA Final Four. The Broncosnotched an overall record of 27-5 and became first WCC school to reach theFinal Four. Santa Clara finished the season ranked No. 4 in the USAToday/CSTV Top 25 Coaches Poll and looks to return to the top of theconference with 10 returners, including WCC Freshman of the Year, BrittanyLowe.
After tying for second place in the WCC last season and making the NCAATournament for the eighth time in nine years, Pepperdine looks to continueits success in 2006. The Waves return nine letterwinners to a squad thatreached the Sweet 16 in 2005.
San Diego and Interim Head Coach Brent Hilliard were picked to finish third.The Toreros welcome the return of senior middle hitter Christie Dawson, anAll-WCC first team selection in 2005. With its NCAA Tournament berth in2005, Saint Mary's, selected fourth in this year's poll, became the firstteam in school history to reach the tournament in three consecutive years.
Although the Gaels just edged Loyola Marymount in the poll, the Lions ledthe conference in digs last season and welome the return of junior oppositeHeather Hughes, an All-WCC first team selection last year. LMU was the fifthWCC team to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2005, its third straightappearance.
San Francisco, Gonzaga and Portland make up the rest of the 2006 poll.Junior outside hitter Kristin Hasselberg leads the Dons, who look to improveupon their 18 wins last year. Picked seventh and eighth, Gonzaga andPortland look to make gains in 2006 with 10 and eight returners,respectively.
Women's Volleyball 2006 Preseason Poll
1. Santa Clara - 64 (8)2. Pepperdine - 553. San Diego - 454. Saint Mary's - 365. Loyola Marymount - 356. San Francisco - 277. Gonzaga - 178. Portland - 9(First place votes)