Puget Sound Heavy Favorite to Win NWC in 2013

2013 NWC Preseason Volleyball Coaches' Poll:

                 2012 Record






Puget Sound (7)





Pacific Lutheran (2)





Pacific (Ore.)





George Fox

























Lewis & Clark





(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Coaches cannot vote for their own team) 

SEATTLE, Wash. – The University of Puget Sound Loggers are a near-unanimous selection by the head volleyball coaches of the Northwest Conference (NWC) to win the conference championship in 2013.

The Loggers received seven out of nine first-place votes for a total of 70 points in the 2013 edition of the NWC Preseason Volleyball Coaches' Poll.

A season ago, Puget Sound won 22 matches en route to an appearance in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Championships, where they lost to Calvin College in four sets.

The Loggers strong finish in 2012, along with losing only one member from that squad, have Puget Sound ranked ninth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 Poll to start the season.

They will be tested early and often as the Loggers open the season with five top-25 teams in the first two weeks of the season in No. 2 Calvin, No. 10 Cal Lutheran, No. 15 Wartburg, No.18 Chapman and NWC rival 21st-ranked Pacific Lutheran.

Puget Sound returns 2012 NWC Player of the Year outside hitter Jackie Harvey, First Team All-NWC setter Jenni Brehove and Second Team All-NWC libero Christina Chun for their senior seasons. The Loggers will be tough to beat in 2013.

Last year's NWC champion, the Pacific Lutheran Lutes, come in second in the 2013 preseason poll. Pacific Lutheran collected two first-place votes of their own for 60 points in the poll.

The Lutes picked up their fifth NWC championship in the past seven seasons in 2012 before falling to Chapman at the NCAA Division III Western Regional.

After a 20-win campaign, expectations remain high at PLU headed into 2013. The Lutes bring back All-NWC first team selection setter Samantha North and 2012 NWC Coach of the Year Kevin Aoiki. However, Pacific Lutheran will have to try and fill the void left by 2012 NWC Libero of the Year Blair Bjorkman.

The Lutes open 2013 as the 21st-ranked squad according to the AVCA Preseason Top 25 Poll and face conference foes Whitman and No. 9 Puget Sound in the season-opening Puget Sound Premier Tournament hosted by UPS.

Placing third in the preseason coaches' poll are the Pacific (Ore.) Boxers, collecting 44 points for themselves.

After a slow start to 2012, Pacific (Ore.) found their rhythm under first-year head coach Kip Yoshimura. The Boxers rebounded from an 0-7 start to the season to finish 10-6 in NWC play and an 11-13 record overall.

Pacific is young, but talented. The Boxers return just two seniors, including middle blocker Mariah McHolland (Honorable Mention All-NWC) and also return sophomore outside hitter Marie Rewick (Second Team All-NWC). The Boxers look to build on the experience they gained in 2012. 

The George Fox Bruins earned fourth in the poll with 39 points.

The Bruins finished just below .500 in NWC play last season, finishing at 7-9, but look for improvement in 2013. They bring back All-NWC second team selection in junior middle blocker Tiffany Burk as well as Honorable Mention All-NWC libero Chelsea Wilson.

Receiving 35 points from the NWC coaches are the Whitman Missionaries, good enough for fifth place. 

The Missionaries do bring back First Team All-NWC outside hitter Jillian Davis for her senior year from a team that finished 9-7 in conference play. However, Whitman does graduate Second Team All-NWC middle blocker Olivia Nielson and Honorable Mention All-NWC middle blocker Courtney Brewer, leaving big holes to fill up front in 2013.

Just behind Whitman in sixth are the Willamette Bearcats with 31 points.

Willamette will be without First Team All-NWC outside hitter Madisyn Leestra, who led the Bearcats with 284 kills in 2012. Coming back for her senior season will be All-NWC honorable mention middle hitter Shannon Waltz, who led Willamette with a .301 hitting percentage.

Tied for seventh with 20 points each in the coaches' poll are the Whitworth Pirates and Linfield Wildcats.

Whitworth brings in a new head coach for 2013, former University of Idaho standout Kati Bodecker.

Bodecker looks to improve a squad that finished 2012 with a record of 10-3 overall and 6-10 in conference play. She will have an experienced squad to work with as the Pirates do not lose a single member from last year's squad, including Second Team All-NWC senior outside hitter Jalana White.

After a quick 7-2 (2-0 in conference) start to the 2012 season, Linfield struggled down the stretch finishing 9-15 overall and 4-12 in NWC play. In 2013, the Wildcats hope to get out to another great start and get stronger as the season progresses. They do return junior outside hitter Kailana Ritte-Camara and top middle blockers Kelsey Ludin and Victoria Thompson on the front line.

Rounding out the 2013 Northwest Conference Preseason Volleyball Coaches' Poll in ninth with 14 points are the Lewis & Clark Pioneers.

Coming off a 2-14 conference season, Lewis & Clark announced the resignation of head coach Lori Jepsen after ten seasons. 

Stepping in to replace Jepsen will be former Pioneer associate head coach Stacie Matz. Matz joined Lewis & Clark during the 2011 season after a successful playing career at Pacific Lutheran.

The Pioneers return one member from the 2012 All-NWC Volleyball team in Honorable Mention junior outside hitter Kateleya Milan.

The 2013 volleyball season gets underway Friday, Aug. 30.


-- Article compiled by Northwest Conference Sports Information Director Christopher Brown. Poll is comprised of votes of head volleyball coaches of the Northwest Conference.