The defending NCAA champion Stanford women's volleyball team was selected to finish second in the Pac-12 in a vote among conference coaches, the Pac-12 announced Wednesday. The Cardinal has won seven of the last 11 conference championships.
Stanford, which received three first-place votes, totaled 113 points to come in just behind Washington (118), which collected eight first-place votes. Oregon came in third in the voting with 93 points, followed by Utah (88), which picked up the final first-place vote. Rounding out the top half of the poll were UCLA (83) and USC (71).
Washington State totaled 66 points to take seventh, followed by Arizona (51), Colorado (38), Oregon State (33), California (23) and Arizona State (15).
Stanford, which has captured 16 Pac-12 championships since 1986, has finished in the top 3 in the conference in 29 of 31 seasons. The coaches have correctly chosen the champion 18 times out of the past 31 polls.
Stanford returns five starters from its national championship squad, which went 27-7 in 2016 and tied for second in the Pac-12. Among the returners are three-time All-American Merete Lutz and reigning AVCA National Freshman of the Year Kathryn Plummer. Audriana Fitzmorris, Jenna Gray and Morgan Hentz all earned All-America honorable mention honors as freshmen.
Fitzmorris, Hentz, Lutz and Plummer all earned spots on the 14-member Preseason All-Pac-12 squad. Stanford led all teams with four selections. Oregon and Washington each had three players selected.
Stanford opens its season on Friday, Aug. 25 at Long Beach State. The Cardinal will also face Iowa and Wright State during the opening weekend. The Cardinal plays eight of its first nine matches on the road or at a neutral site. Stanford's lone nonconference home match is against Pacific on Sept. 15.