The women’s volleyball coaches of the Pac-12 Conference have voted Stanford, nearly-unanimously, as their pre-season selection for conference champion. The Cardinal were the 2017 Pac-12 Champions and the 2016 NCAA Champions, and received 11 out of a possible 12 first place votes. USC, who have a new head coach in Brent Crouch, received the only other 1st-place vote, and were picked to finish 2nd overall.
While individual coaches’ ballots were not revealed, because coaches don’t vote for their own teams, we know that Stanford head coach Kevin Hambly chose USC to win the conference title. In spite of the turnover at the top for the Trojans, they return their leading scorer and VolleyMob Third Team All-American Khalia Lanier.
Stanford still has 3 starters remaining from that 2016 NCAA title team that was the youngest-ever to win a title: setter Jenna Gray, and all-around stars Kathryn Plummer and Audriana Fitzmorris.
- Hear Stanford head coach Kevin Hambly discuss where his multi-skilled talent might play in 2018.
The coaches haven’t correctly picked the conference champion since 2014, and historically have a very poor record with these selections.
The team that coaches think will make the biggest jump is Oregon, who finished 8th in the conference last year but still advanced to the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. The coaches also expect that Arizona State, who went winless in the Pac-12 last season, will finish ahead of Cal – a team that ended last season in a state of uncertainty before their head coach Matt McShane was finally replaced by a promoted Jennifer Dorr.
The team that coaches thing will make the biggest slide is Washington, who won the conference in 2016 and were runners-up last season. The coaches have them finishing 6th this year, after they graduated 7 players. The team returns only 1 regular starter in 2018, rising sophomore middle blocker Lauren Sanders, who led the team with 1.45 blocks/set last year.
Last year’s 4th-ranked team Utah is also expected to slide after graduating, among others, the school’s all-time career leader in kills (1,920) Adora Anae.
Last season, the Pac-12 qualified 9 teams for the NCAA tournament, including 5 who advanced at least as far as the Sweet 16. Florida eliminated 3 Pac-12 teams, Stanford, USC and UCLA, from the tournament.
Last Season’s NCAA Championship Finishes, Pac-12
- Final 4 – Stanford (L, 3-2, Florida)
- Elite 8 – USC (L, 3-2, Florida)
- Sweet 16 – UCLA (L, 3-1, Florida); Utah (L, 3-2, Texas); Colorado (L, 3-0, Nebraska)
- 2nd Round – Oregon (L, 3-0, BYU); Washington State (L, 3-0, Nebraska); Washington (L, 3-2, Illinois)
- 1st Round – Oregon State (L, 3-2, NC State)
2018 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL COACHES POLL
|2018 Pre-Season||Team||Points||2017 Conference Record||2017 Overall Record|
2018 PRESEASON ALL-PAC-12 WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM
|Naghede Abu, COLO||MB||6-4||SR||Riverside, Calif.|
|Kara Bajema, WASH||OH||6-2||JR||Lynden, Wash.|
|Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN^||OH||6-6||JR||Overland Park, Kan.|
|Madeleine Gates, UCLA^||MB||6-3||JR||San Diego, Calif.|
|Jenna Gray, STAN^||S||6-1||JR||Shawnee, Kan.|
|Morgan Hentz, STAN^||L||5-9||JR||Lakeside Park, Ky.|
|Khalia Lanier, USC^||OH||6-2||JR||Scottsdale, Ariz.|
|Mac May, UCLA||OH||6-3||SO||Dubuque, Iowa|
|Taylor Mims, WSU^||OH||6-3||SR||Billings, Mont.|
|Berkeley Oblad, UTAH||MB||6-4||SR||Henderson, Nev.|
|Kathryn Plummer, STAN^#||OH||6-6||JR||Aliso Viejo, Calif.|
|Alexa Smith, COLO^||OH||6-1||SR||Colorado Springs, Colo.|
|Ronika Stone, ORE^||MB||6-2||JR||San Jose, Calif.|
|Lindsey Vander Weide, ORE||OH||6-3||SR||Turlock, Calif.|
^2017 All-Pac-12 team; #Pac-12 Player of the Year
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