Big West Preseason Coaches Poll (pdf)
The 2017 women’s volleyball season gets underway Friday, August 25.
The University of Hawai’i was selected to capture its third straight Big West Conference women’s volleyball championship, and fifth out of the past six years, after claiming six first-place votes en route to a 78 point total as part of the Big West women’s volleyball preseason coaches poll as voted on by the nine head coaches.
The Rainbow Wahine begin the 2017 season with a fresh face at the helm of the program as former University of Hawai‘i All-American and assistant coach (2011-15) Robyn Ah Mow-Santos took over the reins of the women’s volleyball program following the retirement of head coach Dave Shoji. Last season UH tallied a 15-1 conference record to secure the Big West title. Hawai’i competed in its 35th overall and 24th straight NCAA DI Women’s Volleyball Championship where it downed USC in a five-set marathon in first round action before falling to host Minnesota in a second round matchup. The Rainbow Wahine finished 2016 ranked 17th in the America Volleyball Coaches (AVCA) Poll.
Along with a new coach at the helm, Hawai’i will also be without two-time Big West Player of the Year Nikki Taylor and All-Big West First Team selection Annie Mitchem. Taylor paced the Big West in three categories last season - kills per set (4.59), service aces per set (.65) and points per set (5.9). Taylor’s impressive service ace average ranked her second in the nation and placed her in the Top 10 all-time in the Big West’s record book, while also sitting in the top 15 in both kills and points per set. Mitchem was second on the team and seventh in the conference in hitting percentage (.309). The Rainbow Wahine will fill the void with All-Big West First Teamers senior middle hitter Emily Maglio, sophomore setter Norene Iosia and senior libero Savanah Kahaki. Maglio was the Big West’s hitting and blocking leader a year ago with a .400 clip and an average of 1.33 blocks per set. While ranking third in the league in assists (10.33 APS), Iosia shined at the service line, ranking third in the league with a .33 service ace average.
The Mustangs of Cal Poly, nabbing two first place votes and 71 total points, earned the second slot in the preseason poll. The Mustangs, coached by Sam Crosson, finished third in the Big West with an 11-5 record while producing an overall mark of 18-9. While losing Two-Time All-Big West First Team selection middle blocker Taylor Gruenewald to graduation, the Mustangs welcome back a core of upper classmen to pave the way, which includes All-Big West First Teamers senior setter Taylor Nelson and senior outside hitter Raeann Greisen. Greisen was second on the team and seventh in the conference in kills last season, notching 3.44 kills per set, while Nelson paced the league with an 11.64 assists average. The senior duo will be joined by 2015 Big West Freshman of the Year Adlee Van Winden, who was first on the team and fourth in the conference in kills with a 3.07 average during her sophomore campaign.
Securing the third place spot with one first place vote and a total of 65 point was Long Beach State, who enters the 2107 season with a new coach at the helm for the first time in 33 years. Former Long Beach State alum Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer, who becomes the fifth coach in LBSU history, will guide a youthful 49ers squad that finished second a season ago with a 13-3 conference record and an overall record of 21-10. The Beach will be without two-time All-Big West First Team member Nele Barber, who finished her senior year ranked second in the conference with a 4.10 kills average and ninth in digs with a 3.51 mark. First-teamers senior Ashley Murray and sophomore YiZhi Xue will provide leadership at the middle blocker position. Xue led the team and placed fourth in the Big West with a 1.04 blocks per set average, while hitting a fifth-best .345 clip during her freshman season.
The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara sit fourth with 47 points and is followed by UC Irvine after registering 41 points. UC Davis nabbed the sixth slot after collecting 39 points and is followed by CSUN, who holds the seventh spot with 33 points. UC Riverside locked-in the eighth position after grabbing 19 points and Cal State Fullerton rounds out the nine-team field with 10 points.