Lutes Predicted to Capture NWC Crown Once Again in Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll

Lutes Predicted to Capture NWC Crown Once Again in Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll

 Team

Pts.

'18 NWC finish

Pacific Lutheran (5)

59

1st 

Pacific (Ore.) (1)

54

 3rd 

Whitworth (1)

51

2nd 

Puget Sound (2)

48

4th 

Whitman

29

 T-6th

Willamette

27

5th 

George Fox

24

8th 

Lewis & Clark

23

 T-6th

Linfield

9

9th 

(Points awarded on an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Coaches could not vote for their own teams; numbers in parentheses indicate first place votes) 

HILLSBORO, Ore. – The Pacific Lutheran Lutes volleyball team has been selected as the Northwest Conference frontrunner for the 2019 season, as voted on by conference coaches. The Lutes earned 59 points and five first-place votes.

In a tight race to the top with four teams in contention for the first-place spot throughout the majority of the 2018 season, the Lutes claimed the NWC regular season title with a conference record of 14-2 (21-4 overall) to earn the automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season. The team traveled to St. Peter, Minn. where they were paired with Saint Benedict in the NCAA first round. The Lutes fell in four to the Bennies to conclude their postseason run.

The Lutes, who were ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) coaches' poll consistently throughout the 2018 season, earned 127 points in the 2019 AVCA preseason poll, just missing the Top 25. After graduating five, the Lutes welcome back senior leader Danielle Skibiel, who ranked third on the team in kills (168) and points (220), in addition to nine new Lutes on the roster for the 2019 season.

Pacific (Ore.) ranks second in the poll with 54 points and one first place vote. The Boxers concluded the 2018 season ranked third in final conference standings with an 11-5 record (18-8 overall), including a win over Pacific Lutheran. The Boxers will be led by 2018 All-NWC first team selection and AVCA All-West region honorable mention choice Milana Ivkovic (MB) in her senior season, as well as 2018 Freshman of the Year Haley Walz (DS/L). Head Coach Kip Yoshimura returns for his eighth season with the Boxers as the team seeks their first NWC title in program history.

Whitworth places third in the poll with 51 points and one first place vote. While in contention for the NWC regular season title throughout the 2018 season, the Pirates fell to Whitman in the final week of conference play to place second in final conference standings with a 13-3 record (19-8 overall). 2018 All-NWC honorable mention recipient Emiko Kahler (OH) returns for the 2019 season as the Pirates seek to reclaim the NWC title and advance to the NCAA tournament.

Puget Sound receives two first place votes and 48 points to rank fourth in the poll. The Loggers, who received 11 points in the AVCA preseason coaches poll, concluded their 2018 campaign with a 9-7 NWC record (12-12 overall). The team will return 2018 All-NWC second team choice Melanie Siacotos (MH), Alli Reviglio (OH), who led the 2018 squad in kills (174) and ranked second in digs (225), and Sadie Alloway, who ranked in the top 10 in blocks per set as a freshman, to lead the young Logger program.

Whitman earns 25 points to rank fifth in the poll. The Blues move up one spot from 2018 final standings after a tie in sixth place with the Pios with a 6-10 conference record (10-14 overall). The young Blues team welcomes back seven returners and eight first-year student-athletes as Matt Helm enters his eighth season as head coach.

Willamette ranks sixth in the poll with 29 points. The Bearcats concluded the previous season ranked fifth in the NWC final standings with a 7-9 conference record (10-15 overall). Under Head Coach Tom Shoji in his 12thseason, the team welcomes back 2018 All-NWC honorable mention choice Jennifer Lane (MH/OH) as the Bearcats seek to build upon last season's finish.

George Fox earns 24 points in the poll to rank seventh. The Bruins recorded a 5-11 conference record (11-13 overall) in the 2018 season to finish eighth in conference final standings. 2018 All-NWC second team selection Sophia Lawrence (DS/L) returns for her junior season to lead the Bruins in their 2019 campaign.

Lewis & Clark ranks eighth in the poll with 23 points. The Pios tied for sixth with the Blues in the 2018 season after recording a 6-10 conference record (13-10 overall). Ka'anelaokapu'uwai Pakaki-Pias (OH/DS) returns to the Pios roster after finishing the 2018 season ranked second on the team in kills (147), digs (264), and points (179.5). 

Linfield concludes the poll with nine points. After concluding the 2018 season with a 1-15 conference record (6-18 overall), the young Wildcat team welcomes back top returners Hannah Waterman (MB) and Regan Dean (OH) in addition to 11 first-year student-athletes as head coach Joshua Davis enters his second season at the helm of the program. 

The 2019 season will kick off this Friday, August 30th as all nine NWC teams will face non-conference opponents in tournament play. Conference play will begin on Wednesday, September 18thwith a matchup between Linfield and host Willamette.

For the complete 2019 NWC volleyball schedule, click here.