Aug. 18, 2008
SAN BRUNO, CA - The University of San Diego has been selected as the preseason favorite to take home the 2008 West Coast Conference regular season title, narrowly edging out Pepperdine University and Santa Clara University, as voted on by the head coaches in the conference. The Toreros, who shared the 2007 WCC crown with Santa Clara, received three first place votes for a total of 56 points. This marks just the second time since the 2000 season that San Diego has been selected as the WCC preseason favorite.
Following close behind the Toreros in the voting was Pepperdine, which totaled 55 points and also received three first place votes, and Santa Clara, which totaled 53 points and garnered one first place vote. Rounding out the top half of the poll is Saint Mary's College and the University of San Francisco, both of which tallied 34 points with the Gaels receiving the last first place vote. Loyola Marymount University was tabbed sixth with 29 points, followed by Gonzaga University with 18 points, and the University of Portland with 9 points.
The Toreros return five starters and 11 letterwinners from last year's squad, including 2007 All-WCC first team member Amy DeGroot and All-WCC honorable mention selections Andrea Csaszi and Torey Ellick. DeGroot led the Toreros and ranked seventh in the conference with 3.99 kpg. San Diego also returns Jessica Nyrop and Kelsi Myers, both of whom saw significant time at setter last season. Nyrop (979) and Myers (547) combined for 1,526 of the Toreros' WCC-leading 1,693 assists last season.
The Waves will be returning 5 starters and 8 letterwinners from last year's team. Notable returners include 2007 All-WCC first team members Kiah Fiers, who was second in the league in assists per game (12.82), and Julie Rubenstein, who was fourth in the league in kills (476). Pepperdine also expects contributions from Cassi Chamberlain, who was named to the All-WCC Honorable Mention list, and Rachel Lumsden, who led the league in service aces (43).
Not far behind the Waves are the Broncos, who return five starters and 10 letterwinners from last season. Top contributors for the upcoming season are expected to be Krista Kelley, who was named Co-Freshman of the Year and an All-WCC first team pick last season, and fellow All-WCC first team member Brittany Lowe, who was fifth in the conference in kill average (4.26).
The Dons welcome back five starters and nine letterwinners from last year's squad that posted a 17-13 overall record. Most notable of the returning players is Haley Carroll, the 2007 WCC Defensive Player of the Year and an All-WCC First Team selection, who led the league in digs (522). USF is also expecting significant contributions from All-WCC honorable mention members Alix Gombos and Sarah Mandala.
Saint Mary's will field the most experienced team in the conference as the Gaels return all six starters and 12 letterwinners overall. Headlining the list of returners is Megan York, who earned Co-Freshman of the Year honors and was named to All-WCC first team last season.
The Lions will be returning four starters and eight letterwinners, including All-WCC freshman team members Renee Horton, who was second in the conference in assists (1,318), and Whitney Leonard, who was third in the conference in dig average (4.53).
The Bulldogs welcome back three starters and nine letterwinners, including senior middleblocker Elaina Renius, who ranked second on last year's team in kills (329) and hitting percentage (.297). The Pilots, who will be looking to improve upon last year with new Head Coach Joe Houck, return five starters and 10 letterwinners, including Jessica Clemens, who was tied for second in the league in ace average (.36).
Women's Volleyball 2008 Preseason Poll
1. San Diego - 56 (3)
2. Pepperdine - 55 (3)
3. Santa Clara - 53 (1)
4. Saint Mary's - 34 (1)
San Francisco - 34
6. Loyola Marymount - 29
7. Gonzaga - 18
8. Portland - 9
(First place votes)