Bearcat Volleyball Picked Third in NWC Behind Whitworth and PLU

SPOKANE, Wash. — Defending Northwest Conference volleyball champion Pacific Lutheran University will be challenged by Whitworth College, according to the 2005 preseason poll of NWC coaches. Whitworth and PLU each had 77 points in the poll, however Whitworth had four first place votes to the Lutes' three first place votes.

Whitworth returns five starters from 2004, including All-NWC hitter Julie Marsh. The Pirates finished 19-5 overall and 12-4 in the conference last season. The Lutes finished 17-7 overall and 15-1 in the NWC last fall, winning the title by two games. PLU must overcome the graduation of NWC Player of the Year Julie Locke, but welcomes back All-NWC hitter Stephanie Turner.

Willamette picked up a single first place vote and finished third in the poll with 58 points. The Bearcats, 19-6 overall and 13-3 in the NWC in 2004, will feature three sophomores who all started last season. Jordyn Smith, Jessica Drumm and Julie Christine will team with senior captains Roni Schneider and Kristin Kutara for a solid starting unit. Head coach Tricia Wright is also counting on another solid recruiting class to aid the Bearcats.

“We’re going to be very athletic and very exciting to watch,” said Wright, the fourth-year head coach. “We will be very young, but we will play hard and we could very well challenge for the league title this year. Our future looks very solid.”

Linfield College, the 2003 NWC champions, is fourth in the poll with 46 points and will be led by All-American right side hitter Lindsay Harksen.

George Fox University (43 points) and Whitman College (42 points) finished just behind Linfield in the poll, in fifth and sixth places, respectively. GFU will be led by All-NWC hitter Linzi Stolsig. Whitman picked up the final first place vote in the poll.

The University of Puget Sound seventh in the poll 40 total points. The Loggers will rely on Second Team All-NWC hitter Nikki Esposito this fall.

PacificUniversity(20 points) is eighth in the poll after making solid strides last season. Lewis & Clark (11 points) was ninth in the poll and will strive to improve on last season's ninth-place finish.

The season begins September 1st.

NWC Volleyball Coaches’ Pre-Season Poll:

2004 records

School (1st) Pts. All NWC

1. Whitworth (Wash.) (4) 77 19-5 12-4
2. Pacific Lutheran (Wash.) (3) 77 17-7 15-1
3. Willamette (Ore.) (1) 58 19-6 13-3
4. Linfield (Ore.) 46 8-14 6-10
5. George Fox (Ore.) 43 13-12 8-8
6. Whitman (Wash.) (1) 42 7-17 5-11