Aug. 3, 2006
MALIBU, Calif. - The Pepperdine women's volleyball team was picked to finish second by the West Coast Conference (WCC) coaches in the preseason coaches poll announced by the league office Thursday. Defending champions Santa Clara received all eight first place votes for 64 total points followed by Pepperdine's 55 and San Diego's 45.
Santa Clara recorded its best season in school history in 2005, taking its first WCC title since 2000 and reaching the NCAA Final Four. The Broncos notched an overall record of 27-5 and became first WCC school to reach the Final Four. Santa Clara finished the season ranked No. 4 in the USA Today/CSTV Top 25 Coaches Poll and looks to return to the top of the conference with 10 returners, including WCC Freshman of the Year, Brittany Lowe.
After tying for second place in the WCC last season and making the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in nine years, Pepperdine looks to continue its success in 2006. The Waves return nine letterwinners to a squad that reached 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, an All-WCC first team selection in 2005. With its NCAA Tournament berth in 2005, Saint Mary¹s, selected fourth in this year¹s poll, became the first team in school history to reach the tournament in three consecutive years.
Although the Gaels just edged Loyola Marymount in the poll, the Lions led the conference in digs last season and welome the return of junior opposite Heather Hughes, an All-WCC first team selection last year. LMU was the fifth WCC team to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2005, its third straight appearance.
San Francisco, Gonzaga and Portland make up the rest of the 2006 poll.Junior outside hitter Kristin Hasselberg leads the Dons, who look to improve upon their 18 wins last year. Picked seventh and eighth, Gonzaga and Portland look to make gains in 2006 with 10 and eight returners, respectively.
Women¹s Volleyball 2006 Preseason Poll
1. Santa Clara - 64 (8)
2. Pepperdine - 55
3. San Diego - 45
4. Saint Mary's - 36
5. Loyola Marymount - 35
6. San Francisco - 27
7. Gonzaga - 17
8. Portland - 9
(First place votes)