Aug. 18, 2009
Poised to follow last year's highly successful season, the West Coast Conference had five teams recognized in this year's AVCA Preseason Poll. All five teams recognized will look to repeat their appearances in the NCAA Tournament. San Diego came in ranked 15th, while Santa Clara ranked 25th. Also receiving national votes were Pepperdine, Saint Mary's, and San Francisco.
The Toreros are returning nine players from last season's championship team including All-American and the 2008 West Coast Conference Player of the Year Amy Mahinalani DeGroot. Last season, DeGroot led the team with 392 kills (4.22 kps) and was second in digs with 231. USD also returns first-team All-WCC honoree and All-American candidate Ali Troost back after finishing 2008 with 221 kills, while hitting at a .291 clip. Under the direction of the reigning WCC Coach of the Year Jennifer Petrie, the Toreros are locked loaded and ready to defend their WCC crown, aim for its fourth consecutive league title and make their ninth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
San Diego opens the 2009 season on the road at the Long Beach State Tournament on Aug. 28 as they square off against the host 49ers at 7 p.m. inside of the Pyramid.
The Broncos also return eight players from a team that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year. Highlighting the returnees is Lindsy Davigeadono, who was third in the league in assists last season (10.74) and made this year's preseason all-conference team. Santa Clara ended to 2008 season ranked 25th in the nation and is already off to a good start before the season even begins as it had the 11th best recruiting class in the country according to prepvolleyball.com, tops in the league.
The Broncos will face tough competition right out the gate as they open the season against UCLA at the Hawaii Invitational on Aug. 28. Santa Clara will face Hawaii on Aug. 29, and finish up against Western Michigan who made it to the Sweet 16 last season.
The Waves return six players including four starters plus a libero from a team that made its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance last year. Headlining the list of returnees are Stevi Robinson, 2008 WCC Defensive Player of the Year, and Kim Hill, 2008 WCC Freshman of the Year. Robinson led the league in digs (4.81), while Hill was ranked first in blocks (1.11). Also returning will be Kiah Fiers, who is ranked fifth on the school's career assists list (3,313). Pepperdine's recruiting class was also recognized nationally, ranked 12th in the country by prepvolleyball.com.
Pepperdine opens the season at the Colorado State Asics Classic, where it will take on Colorado State, Cal Poly, and Oregon State.
Saint Mary's placed the most members on the WCC's preseason all-conference team in Megan Burton, Kapua Kamana'o, and Shannon Lowell, all of whom made last season's all-conference first team. Lowell and Burton ranked sixth (.341) and seventh (.337) in the league in hitting percentage and third (1.07) and fifth (1.02) in blocks, while Kamana'o ranked second in assists (1,168). The Gaels will also be returning Alita Fisher who currently ranks first on the school's all-time career digs per game list (3.76).
Saint Mary's will open the season at the Nevada Tournament on August 29th, taking on UC Davis and host Nevada.
San Francisco, under third year Head Coach Gilad Doron, will return two starters plus a libero, led by Haley Carroll and Sarah Mandala, who both made this year's preseason all-conference team. Carroll had a strong 2008 campaign, leading the league in service aces (39) and digs (518). Mandala, who received All-WCC first team honors last year, was third in the league in kills (413).
The Dons will begin the season at the Oregon Tournament on August 28th, taking on host Oregon, Missouri State, both 2008 NCAA Tournament participants, and Eastern Washington.