STANFORD, Calif. – The Stanford women's volleyball team will begin the 2014 season ranked No. 3 nationally, the American Volleyball Coaches Association announced in its annual preseason poll today. The Cardinal is the only program in the nation to appear in the top 10 of every preseason poll since its inception in 1982.
Stanford, which received seven first-place votes, returns five of its starters from last year's team that went 27-6, finished second in the Pac-12 and advanced to the NCAA Lexington Regional Final. Stanford is one of two teams to appear in all 32 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournaments.
The Cardinal returns nine letterwinners from the 2013 team, including four All-Americans in Inky Ajanaku (AVCA First Team, Volleyball Magazine Third Team), Madi Bugg (AVCA Second Team), Jordan Burgess (AVCA Honorable Mention, Volleyball Magazine Second Team) and Kyle Gilbert (AVCA Honorable Mention). Also returning is junior outside hitter Brittany Howard, who joined Ajanaku, Bugg and Burgess on the Preseason All-Pac-12 Conference team.
Defending national champion Penn State, earned the top spot in the poll with 32 first-place votes, followed by Texas which garnered 11 first-place votes. Rounding out the top 5 were Washington and USC (two first-place votes).
Overall four Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top 25, including No. 25 Arizona State, while Oregon, California, Arizona, Colorado and UCLA are all receiving votes. The Cardinal is scheduled to play 10 regular-season matches against top-25 teams, including its home opener against the top-ranked Nittany Lions on Sept. 5. Other non-conference matches on the docket are at No. 7 Nebraska, versus No. 11 Illinois, at No. 14 San Diego and against No. 21 Duke.
Stanford opens the 2014 season in Ames, Iowa, as it takes on Iowa State, which is receiving votes, on Friday, Aug. 29 at 5 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Networks. Season tickets for the Cardinal's 15 home matches are on sale now at gostanford.com or by calling 1-800-STANFORD.