EUGENE – The University of Oregon volleyball team continued it remarkable national rankings run Monday with a No. 20 preseason pick in the AVCA Coaches Poll.
The Ducks received their fourth top-20 preseason pick the last five years – an accomplishment the program had notched only twice before current head coach Jim Moore’s arrival (1985 - 15th / 1990 - 20th).
The eighth-year mentor and his squad also picked up a No. 11 preseason nod in 2008, and No. 14 and No. 20 selections in 2009 and ’10, respectively.
The only missing year in that recent stretch – 2011 – saw Oregon upset then-four-time defending national champion Penn State two weeks later, and end its NCAA-record 94-match home win streak.
Overall during his tenure, Oregon has now been ranked top 25 for 75 editions (2011-14; ’10-13; ’09-16; ’08-16; ’07-13; ’06-2), including 40 in the top 15, and all 14 of the team’s ever top-10 honors.
The Ducks were one of six Pac-12 schools spotted Monday in the top 20 with returning national champion and No. 1 UCLA, No. 5 USC, No. 6 Stanford, No. 14 Washington and No. 17 California. A seventh NCAA Tournament returnee from the league - Arizona - also received votes.
Overall in the poll, UCLA was joined in the top five by No. 2 Texas, No. 3 Penn State and No. 4 Nebraska. Last December, the Bruins defeated Illinois - No. 7 in Monday's edition - for the national title in four sets. Last year's other semifinalists included USC and Florida State (with the latter tabbed No. 12 Monday).
The complete poll follows at the bottom of this article, and is also available at the AVCA website at the http://www.avca.org/divisions/division-one-women/poll-8-13-12di/ URL address.
Altogether, UO has 10 contests this season against preseason top-25 teams, thanks to another pair of non-league road tests the next three weeks at No. 13 Kentucky and No. 24 Ohio State. Over the course of its 29-match regular season slate, it has looks ahead to three more tilts vs. teams that received votes in Arizona (twice) and St. Mary's.
Among other related poll notes, UO was picked a best-ever fourth last week in the Pac-12 Coaches Preseason Poll behind UCLA (first), Stanford (second) and USC (third), and ahead of Washington (fifth), California (sixth) and Arizona (seventh).
Among the team's six returning starters and nine letterwinners, the Ducks welcome back a pair of All-Pac-12 picks in All-American and senior outside hitter Alaina Bergsma and junior setter Lauren Plum.
UO also returns a host of other starters in All-Pac-12 Freshman Team choice and outside hitter Liz Brenner, All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and junior middle blocker Ariana Williams, senior outside hitter Katherine Fischer, senior libero Haley Jacob and senior defensive specialist Kellie Kawasaki.
Oregon also welcomes one of its top newcomer classes ever, thanks a five-person freshman group composed of Italian product and middle blocker Clelia DeFelice, prep All-America outside hitter Martenne Bettendorf, Senior Ace middle blocker Canace Finley, Senior Ace 150 outside hitter Madison Magee and All-CIF libero Tatum Norton.
UO also added one transfer in senior outside hitter Bethany (Wray) Bair - a two-time All-Big Sky honorable mention for Weber State in 2010 and '11.
This week, the Ducks look ahead to another busy week of practice leading up to their second exhibition against many of their greatest alumni.
That match, set for Saturday, August 18, will start at 7 p.m. and offers free admission and free parking in the Matthew Knight Arena garage accessible via Columbia Street.
Also on Friday, UO fans have their first opportunity to order new season ticket packages and individual match tickets.
Fans are encouraged to use the ticket link at the top of the www.GoDucks.com website for all purchases, and can also visit the Duck ticket office or call (1-800-WEB-FOOT) during normal weekday business hours.
Oregon then opens its regular season on the road next week at a pair of tournaments in Columbus, Ohio (Aug. 24-25) and Athens, Ohio (Aug. 31-Sept. 2).
Next month, the Ducks kick off their 12-match home schedule with a pair of non-conference tilts vs. UC Santa Barbara (Wed., September 5) and St. Mary's (Mon., Sept. 10). Both teams sported top-55 RPI national ratings and impressive records last year - UC Santa Barbara (#53, 19-12) and St. Mary's (#55, 17-12).
The remainder of UO's home schedule - all league contests - includes last year's national champion (UCLA), two more NCAA second-round qualifiers (Stanford, Washington), and two other postseason first-round advancers (Arizona, California).
2012 AVCA COACHES PRESEASON POLL (*courtesy of www.AVCA.org)
School (First-Place Votes) Total Points 2011
Record 2011 Final Poll
1 UCLA (54) 1485 30-6 1
2 Texas (1) 1341 25-5 4
3 Penn State 1302 25-8 9
4 Nebraska (1) 1281 25-5 12
5 Southern California (1) 1233 29-5 3
6 Stanford (3) 1197 22-8 14
7 Illinois 1163 30-5 2
8 Hawai’i 989 31-2 5
9 Purdue 935 29-5 10
10 Iowa State 886 25-6 8
11 Pepperdine 801 25-7 6
12 Florida State 770 28-7 7
13 Kentucky 724 28-6 13
14 Washington 677 24-8 17
15 Tennessee 652 28-4 19
16 Minnesota 616 20-12 15
17 California 583 26-7 16
18 Florida 543 27-6 11
19 San Diego 476 28-5 T-20
20 Oregon 366 21-10 24
21 Northern Iowa 286 33-2 18
22 Kansas State 246 22-11 22
23 Michigan 210 22-13 T-20
24 Ohio State 163 20-15 23
25 Colorado State 136 24-6 25
Others Receiving Votes (and appearing on two or more ballots): Long Beach State 66; North Carolina 57; Dayton 42; St. Mary’s (Ca.) 33; Michigan State 30; Louisville 28; Tulsa 25; LSU 24; Western Kentucky 24; Arizona 17; Texas A&M 15; Miami (FL) 13; BYU 12; Missouri 9; Cincinnati 6; Oklahoma 4; Wichita State 3
*Eight schools were listed on only one ballot for a total of 31 points.
**Next poll: August 27, 2012