Pac-12 Conference

2019 Volleyball Media Guide

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2 0 1 9 P A C - 1 2 V O L L E Y B A L L M E D I A G U I D E / / P R E V I E W 8 P R E S E A S O N N O T E B O O K Mima Mirkovic, California Ashley Brown, Arizona The Pac-12 continues to show it is the premiere conference for women's volleyball, showcasing the nation's top talent and coaches, year in and year out. With a record 16 NCAA titles to its credit and a team in the national semifinal in 34 of the 38 years of the tournament, no other conference in the country can match the Pac-12's success. For the 19th-consecutive year, at least six teams earned NCAA Tournament bids and has sent at least eight in five of the last six seasons, including eight in 2018. Thirteen players were named All-Americans in 2018, and, for the second-straight year, AVCA National Player of the Year was among them. The future of Pac-12 volleyball looks as strong as ever, with teams hauling in their share of top recruits. 2019 is no different with 12 VolleyballMag. com FAB 50 selections appearing on five league rosters, the second most of any conference, with Stanford signing the top class in the country. Here is a brief look at the teams of the Pac-12 as they prepare for the 2019 campaign: ARIZONA Ranked No. 24 in the AVCA Preseason Coaches poll, the Wildcats return four starters and 11 letterwinners from last season's NCAA Tournament team that won 22 matches. Head coach David Rubio, entering his 28th season at the helm, still has to replace an All- American-caliber player in Kendra Dahlke, who led the Pac-12 in kills per set. Rubio has seven players on the roster that played 100 out of a possible 125 sets last season, including full-time starter junior outside hitter Paige Whipple, the team's second- leading scorer last year. Seniors Devyn Cross and Julia Patterson look to lead the team. Cross' offensive efficiency at middle blocker ranked her fourth in the Pac-12 a season ago, Patterson was fourth in assists per set, helping the team rank in the top half of the Conference in both those categories. Also a senior, libero Makenna Martin rounds out a reliable core of seniors and familiar returnees that should help Arizona build on last year's success. ARIZONA STATE Year two under head coach Sanja Tomasevic last year, the Sun Devils won four more matches overall and improved by five wins in Conference play leading to a much-improved season over 2017. Year Three has six of last year's starters back with nine new faces added to the returning core of nine letterwinners. Outside hitters senior Ivana Jeremic and junior Claire Kovensky were two of the team's top producers last season, and the team's top senior libero Courtney Leffel also returns to lead the backline. Key new- comers have been added for the upcoming season, including senior transfer Jada Burse, a two-time All-Big 12 selection. A couple of Sun Devils also gained international experience over the summer, with junior Megan Beedie and junior transfer Andrea Mitrovic spending time with the Canadian National Teams which should further help raise the level of competition in Tempe. With all those components in place, 2019 is shaping up to be another step in the right direction for Arizona State. CALIFORNIA The Golden Bears look to have stability in place after several coaching changes since longtime head coach Rich Feller retired after the 2016 campaign. Head coach Sam Crosson takes over the helm in 2019, making a return to Berkeley after serving as an assistant coach during the 2010 campaign which was the year Cal made the national championship match for the first and only time in the history of the program. Crosson comes to the Bears with a history of rebuilding programs after a successful stint at Cal Poly. The Bears made positive strides in 2018, winning the most matches since 2013. With 11 letterwinners returning, Cal can continue to see improvement and perhaps return to the days when the Bears made 11-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. The Bears have their go-to back in junior Mima Mirkovic. A starter since arriving on campus, she posted her best season last year. The Bears also have a middle blocking core of Preslie Anderson and Lauren Forte back, who will give Cal a big presence at the net. COLORADO The Buffs lose a pair of significant contributors to graduation, including All-American Naghede Abu and classmate Alexa Smith. Head coach Jesse Ma- honey welcomes back eight letterwinners, including three starters and the team's top libero. A summer trip to China gave the Buffs the head start on train- ing for the new season, more important still with the additions of eight newcomers to the team. Colorado has plenty of experience returning to help lead this young squad, including senior Rachel Whipple, a libero who earned a spot on the USA Collegiate National Team. Sophomore Jenna Ewert took on the full-time duties at the setter position last season after an injury to fellow setter Brynna DeLuzio. Another injury to DeLuzio, has Ewert taking over the setter duties again. Senior outside hitter Justine Spann was the team's second-leading scorer behind Smith and looks to take on a bigger role for the Buffs in 2019. OREGON Picked to finish third in the Pac-12 preseason coaches poll, just one point out of second, the Ducks look to have several pieces in place to make a run at a Pac-12 crown and another deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Preseason All-Pac-12 selections Willow Johnson, Brooke Nuneviller and Ronika Stone will lead a young roster that includes some of the top players in the country coming out of high school, including the seventh-ranked recruiting class in the nation. Add to that, an early-summer foreign tour and head coach Matt Ulmer should be feeling pretty good about his 2019 prospects. Ranked No. 11 in the AVCA Preseason Coaches poll, Oregon was second in the Pac-12 in hitting percentage last season, thanks in part to All-American Stone's efficiency. Johnson looks to lead the attack while Nuneviller has established herself as one of the top liberos in the league after just one collegiate cam- paign. The Ducks also have the services of redshirt freshmen Karson Bacon, Abby Hansen and Kylie Robinson who were unavailable last season. The trio comprised one of the top classes in the nation in 2018 and look to finally hit the court in 2019. OREGON STATE The Beavers return a wealth of experience for 2019, as all six starters and 11 letterwinners overall back. 2019 PAC-12 PRESEASON COACHES POLL 1. Stanford (11) 121 2. USC 104 3. Oregon (1) 99 4. Washington 98 5. Utah 68 6. Arizona 65 7. UCLA 63 8. California 45 Washington State 45 10. Colorado 44 11. Arizona State 23 12. Oregon State 17 * First-place votes in parentheses.

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