Preseason Polls Released for WCC Fall Sports
Women's Volleyball picked to finish second in conference; Women's soccer third and men's soccer fifth.
Aug. 2, 2001
Los Angeles, Calif. (August 2, 2001)-- The West Coast Conference released the preseason coaches' polls for the 2001 Fall Sports of women's volleyball and men's and women's soccer.
The Lions volleyball team, which finished 25th in the nation last season, was picked to finish second in the WCC behind rival Pepperdine. The Waves were given the top nod in the preseason poll for the third straight year, receiving seven of the eight first place votes. The Lions received the other first place vote. The two rivals split the two contests a year ago and are expected to once again battle for a top spot in the WCC.
Despite the loss of two-time All-American Sarah McFarland, the Lions feature some of the WCC's top underclassmen in sophomores Nicole Oehlman and Tiana Newsome. Oehlman, as a freshman setter, was an AVCA All-West Region selection and finished 25th in the nation with 13.41 assists per game. Newsome, also in first season, was solid at the net, finishing 23rd in the country with 1.46 blocks per game.
Rounding out the coaches preseason poll was San Deigo and defending champion Santa Clara for third place, then San Francisco, Saint Mary's, Portland and Gonzaga. The women's volleyball season starts on Aug. 31 at the Colorado Powerbar Invitational against Oral Roberts.
The women's soccer poll saw the Lions ranked in a tie for third place with San Diego, trailing last year's champion Portland and Santa Clara. Portland, who advanced to the NCAA Final Four last season, earned five first place votes and Santa Clara, who also earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament, earned three. The rest of the preseason poll had Saint Mary's fifth, followed by Pepperdine, San Francisco and Gonzaga.
The Lions finished in a second place tie with San Diego in 2000 with its best conference finish in program history at 5-2, including a win over Santa Clara. First-team All-Conference selection Shari Nishikawa, only a sophomore, will lead the Lions' offensive attack in front of one of the most experienced defenses in the country that will feature three seniors (Heather Nelson, Shaina Nishimoto, and Julie Prunk).
The women's soccer team will start their season at the California Invitational on Aug. 31 against Michigan.
In the men's soccer poll, the Lions were selected a surprising fifth. The Lions return 19 players, including nine starters from last year's team that finished with the best record (10-7-1) in school history. Leading the Lions' surge of talent is WCC's Co-Player of the Year Arturo Torres. Entering his junior season with the Lions, Torres has become LMU's all-time leading scorer in just two years. He added 32 points to his career total last year with 11 goals and 10 assists, giving him a school record 68 points. He also holds the career record for goals with 27 and is second with 14 assists.
The men's soccer poll selected San Diego as the favorite to win the WCC title in 2001. They were followed by Santa Clara, Portland, Gonzaga, LMU, San Francisco and Saint Mary's. The men will begin their season on Aug. 31 as well, taking on Air Force in the first day of the FILA Cup at Sullivan Field.