The 2018 women’s NCAA Division I season begins on Friday, and although we are several weeks out from the start of conference play, VolleyMob is taking a look at some of the top conferences in the country. After going through the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, we venture into the West Coast Conference.
BYU: The Cougars return five starters plus the libero to a bunch that went 30-3, won a share of the WCC in 2017 and made the Sweet 16 once again before falling just short in five sets. Blocking and physicality at the net will be a strength of BYU in 2018 and although they return Mary Lake, they want to become a stronger passing and serving team to refine everything. Not only are they the league favorites, but if that improvement happens this could be a Final Four caliber team with elite offensive weapons surrounding returning setter Lyndie Haddock-Eppich in Roni Jones-Perry, McKenna Miller and company.
San Diego: The Torreros earned a share of the WCC title in 2017, so don’t come them out from at least doing so once again in 2018. They do lose some key pieces off that 25-5 (17-1 WCC) bunch, but still plenty of starters return. They likely have the strongest and most proven middle blocker position in the league led by Addie Picha and Kaity Edwards and a couple of strong outside hitters give them some offense. Beyond figuring out the setter and libero positions, one x-factor for the Torreros just being an NCAA Tournament team versus one with realistic second weekend hopes and a conference title could lie on Cami May, a right side transfer from Penn State looking to breakout.
Others to Note:
Pepperdine: The Waves suffered a big loss when Jasmine Gross transferred to USC, but they still bring back almost all of their starting lineup including Hannah Frohling on the pin. A couple of transfers join a large group of incoming freshmen as well, notably former high school All-American and Utah outside hitter Shannon Scully. Tarah Wylie could also be in store for a breakout season after the 6’5″ middle was WCC Freshman of the Year in 2015, All-WCC Honorable Mention in 2016 but missed 2017 with injury.
Loyola Marymount: The Lions had to overcome the loss of Sarah Sponcil to transfer last season, which hampered their expectations and 2017 season. Outside of the top two in the league though, the WCC appears to be very much open. Potentially losing Megan Rice to injury for the entire season could hamper expectations, but overall they still have the talent led by Savannah Slattery to at least feats on some of the other lesser teams in the league.
Circle Your Calendar:
Ten WCC matches to keep an eye on:
- September 25: BYU at Pepperdine
- September 25: San Diego at Loyola Marymount
- October 5: BYU at San Diego
- October 13: Loyola Marymount at Pepperdine
- October 25: San Diego at Gonzaga
- October 27: BYU at Gonzaga
- November 2: San Diego at BYU
- November 10: Pepperdine at Loyola Marymount
- November 20: BYU at Loyola Marymount
- November 20: San Diego at Pepperdine
VolleyMob’s Preseason Projection:
- San Diego
- Loyola Marymount
- Santa Clara
- Saint Mary’s
- San Francisco
Five Player of the Year Candidates
Of course, several others could be included on this list, and a handful of players are set to breakout in 2018. Considering team projection, player production from past seasons and role in 2018 though, here are five players to watch for WCC Player of the Year as we embark on the season’s start (sorted alphabetically by last name):
- Hannah Frohling | OH | Junior | Pepperdine
- Roni Jones-Perry | OH | Senior | BYU
- Cami May | RS | Sophomore | San Diego
- McKenna Miller | OH | Junior | BYU
- Addie Picha | MB | Senior | San Diego
Coaches Preseason All-Conference Team:
2018 All-WCC Preseason Volleyball Team
|Kaity Edwards||San Diego||Sr.||MB|
|Addie Picha||San Diego||Sr.||MB|
|Megan Rice||Loyola Marymount||Jr.||OH|
|Savannah Slattery||Loyola Marymount||Jr.||OH|