Bearcats are Listed Eighth in NWC Volleyball Preseason Poll

Willamette Opens Season versus Occidental at Linfield on Sunday, Sept. 2

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University volleyball team has been picked to finish in eighth place the Northwest Conference according to the 2012 NWC Volleyball Preseason Poll. All nine NWC head coaches voted in the poll, which resulted in Pacific Lutheran University being chosen as the favorite to win the NWC title.

Pacific Lutheran was selected to win the title after taking second place in the NWC last season. The Lutes ended the year with a 21-6 overall record, including 13-3 in the NWC. In this year's Preseason Poll, the Lutes received five of nine first place votes and a total of 65 points.

Defending NWC champion Whitworth University was listed second in the poll with two first place votes and 54 points. The Pirates went 19-7 in 2011 and were 14-2 in the NWC on their way to edging out PLU for the conference title.

University of Puget Sound (18-6, 10-6 NWC) held third place in the poll. UPS received one first place vote and 50 points. Lewis & Clark College (13-13, 9-7 NWC) followed in fourth place with one first place vote and 44 points. Linfield College (11-14, 6-10 NWC) was fifth with 35 points.

Sixth place in the poll went to George Fox University (10-15, 5-11 NWC) with 30 points, while seventh place went to Pacific University (13-12, 7-9 NWC) with 24 points.

Willamette was eighth with 21 points after ending last season with an 8-17 record, including 5-11 in the NWC. Whitman College (4-18, 3-13 NWC) was ninth in the poll with 10 points.

The Bearcats will field their most experienced roster in several years. Willamette had just one senior on the roster in 2010 and played with no seniors in 2011. This fall, WU will have four seniors on the squad.

Willamette's efforts will be guided by Head Coach Tom Shoji, who is entering his fifth year at Willamette and his 29th season as a collegiate head coach.

Seniors for the Bearcats are Kathy Lee Glenn (LIB/DS, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS), Madisyn Leenstra (MH/OH, Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS), Nicole Mertens (OH, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) and Danica Reed (OH, Arvada, CO/Ralston Valley HS).

Leenstra topped the offensive chart last season with 221 total kills and 2.83 kills per set. She achieved a .195 hitting percentage and averaged 0.35 blocks per set. Mertens provided WU with 121 kills (1.75 avg.) to go along with 2.35 digs per set and 0.26 service aces per set.

Reed contributed 98 kills. She averaged 1.88 kills, 2.60 digs and 0.25 service aces per set. Glenn led the Bearcats with 413 digs and averaged 5.16 digs per set. Glenn also ranked first on the team with 23 service aces (0.29 avg.).

2012 NWC Volleyball Preseason Poll
(1st place votes in parentheses)

1. Pacific Lutheran (5), 65 points, 21-6 overall, 13-3 NWC in 2011
2. Whitworth (2), 54 points, 19-7, 14-2 NWC
3. Puget Sound (1), 50 points, 18-6, 10-6 NWC
3. Lewis & Clark (1), 44 points, 13-13, 9-7 NWC
5. Linfield, 35 points, 11-14, 6-10 NWC
6. George Fox, 30 points, 10-15, 5-11 NWC
7. Pacific, 24 points, 13-12, 7-9 NWC
8. Willamette, 21 points, 8-17, 5-11 NWC
9. Whitman, 10 points, 4-18, 3-13 NWC

Note: Points were awarded on an 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. The coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.

Madisyn Leenstra led the Bearcats with 221 total kills and an average of 2.83 kills per set last season.

Madisyn Leenstra led the Bearcats with 221 total kills and an average of 2.83 kills per set last season.