Women of Troy Tabbed Second in Pac-12 Preseason Poll
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Aug. 6, 2014
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - In a preseason poll of the Pac-12's women's volleyball head coaches, USC received five first-place votes and was chosen to finish in second place in 2014. The league's coaches also voted on the second-annual 15-member preseason all-conference team and selected junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio and sophomore outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu.
The Women of Troy have the distinction of winning the first-ever Pac-12 title in 2011 and are the holders of seven league crowns (1976, '77, '80, 2000, '02, '03, '11). USC finished with 113 points in the preseason poll and was edged by only one point (114) by 15-time league champion Stanford, which also received five first-place votes.
Defending champion Washington took the other two first-place votes and finished third in the preseason poll with 106 points. Arizona State took fourth (73) and was followed by California and Oregon which each tied for fifth with 70 points. Colorado earned 62 points for seventh with UCLA in eighth (58). Arizona (51), Utah (38), Washington State (25), and Oregon State (11) rounded out the preseason poll.
The top team in the Pac-12 preseason poll has gone on to win at least a share of the league title 17 times out of the 28 years since the poll's inception in 1986. The last time the coaches correctly predicted the conference champion was in 2011 when USC claimed the title. The Trojans have been selected to win the conference five times since 1998 and have claimed at least a share of the title four times. Last year, USC was also picked to finish second.
In 2013, the Pac-12 had a record-setting nine teams earn berths in the NCAA tournament. Eight of those teams advanced to the second round while USC, Washington and Stanford each moved ahead into the regional semifinals and then on to regional championship matches. The Huskies won in the final and represented the conference in the national semis.
The Women of Troy are one of three teams with at least two players chosen for preseason all-league honors. Stanford had four including Inky Ajanaku, Madi Bugg, Jordan Burgess, and Brittany Howard, while Washington had a pair with Kaleigh Nelson and 2013 Player of the Year Krista Vansant. Seven teams had one player each including Arizona (Madi Kingdon), Arizona State (Macey Gardner), California (Christina Higgins), Colorado (Taylor Simpson), Oregon (Liz Brenner), UCLA (Karsta Lowe), and Washington State (Kyra Holt).
Last year, the Trojans finished third in the Pac-12 with a 16-4 mark in league matches and received the sixth seed in the NCAA tournament. USC made its 23rd consecutive (31st overall) appearance in the tourney and advanced to the regional championship match for the fourth straight year. The Trojans finished with a final record of 29-6 following a hard-fought five-set loss to third-seeded Pac-12 champion Washington at the Galen Center.
USC brings back the services of its All-American outside hitters Bricio and Nwanebu in 2014. Nwanebu was last year's national freshman of the year and Bricio led the country in service aces. USC will have to replace three-time All-American libero Natalie Hagglund and has space in the middle where graduated All-American middle blocker Alexis Olgard was a force last season. For more information on the USC women's volleyball team, visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCWomensVolley on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
2014 PAC-12 WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL PRESEASON COACHES POLL