Pirates Picked to Repeat in NWC Volleyball

Pirates Picked to Repeat in NWC Volleyball
2011 NWC Volleyball Coaches' Pre-Season Poll: 2010 records
School (1st) Pts. All NWC
1. Whitworth (Wash.) (7) 69 18-7 14-2
2. Puget Sound (Wash.) (2) 58 18-7 13-3
3. Pacific Lutheran (Wash.)   51 19-7 13-3
4. Whitman (Wash.)   32 8-18 5-11
5. Willamette (Ore.)   30 9-16 5-11
6. Lewis & Clark (Ore.)   28 10-16 6-10
7. George Fox (Ore.)   26 11-15 6-10
    Linfield (Ore.)   26 8-16 6-10
9. Pacific (Ore.)   13 5-19 4-12
(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis).

With much of its starting line up returning from 2010's Northwest Conference championship season, Whitworth has been picked to repeat as NWC volleyball champions according to the 2011 poll of league head coaches.

The Pirates received seven out of nine first place votes (coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team) and 69 total points in the poll.  Senior Kaimi Rocha, the 2010 NWC Player of the Year, returns to lead Whitworth and she will be joined by three 2010 Second Team All-NWC selections: senior Amanda Grumbach, senior Bree Riddle and sophomore Whitney Santos.  Those four, along with senior Ka'ipo Rocha, led Whitworth's surprise run to the 2010 crown after the Pirates were picked sixth in the 2010 NWC volleyball preseason poll.

Puget Sound is second in the 2011 poll with two first place votes and 58 points in the poll after joining Whitworth in the 2010 NCAA Tournament as an at-large participant.  The Loggers will look to seniors Brynn Blickenstaff and Erika Greene to lead the way.  Both were First Team All-NWC selections in 2010.

Pacific Lutheran won or shared four straight NWC championships from 2006-2009 and is third in the poll with 51 points.  All-NWC senior Kelsie Moore will lead the Lutes this season.

The next five positions in the poll are separated by a total of only six points.  Whitman is fourth in the poll with 32 points.  Sophomore Jillian Davis had a breakout first year for the Missionaries, earning First Team All-NWC.

Willamette and Lewis & Clark are close behind with 30 and 28 points, respectively.  Carly Hargrave returns for the Bearcats after an outstanding freshman season, while senior Margaret Dowling looks to lead L&C in kills per game again in 2011.

George Fox and Linfield tied for seventh in the poll with 26 points each.  GFU senior Patti Reeves is one of the best defenders in the NWC, while Wildcat All-NWC senior Samantha Lau is one of the league's most versatile players.

Pacific is ninth in the poll with 13 points.  Senior Kelsey Takashima will lead the Boxers' attack.

The 2011 season will get underway on September 1st as George Fox hosts Simpson (Calif.).  Much of the rest of the NWC begins play the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd.