Wahine volleyball favored again

Hawaii is the pick of the coaches to win their eight straight WAC women's title.

No surprise here as defending Western Athletic Conference volleyball champion Hawai‘i has been selected in a poll by the league's coaches to take home the crown in 2003 and win their eighth-straight regular-season title.

The Wahine earned nine first-place votes and tallied 81 points to top the poll. Fresno State finished in second place with 70 points and one first place vote, while Nevada received 66 points for third place. Rice, last year's Eastern Division winner, was picked to finish fourth with 57 points. In fifth place was San Jose State with 46 points, followed by UTEP (35), SMU (33), Louisiana Tech (25), Boise State (23) and Tulsa (14). Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team.

Hawai‘i is coming off a 34-2 season in 2002 that saw the Rainbow Wahine earn their seventh-consecutive WAC regular-season title with a 13-0 record. Hawai‘i also captured its third WAC Tournament title. The Rainow Wahine advanced to the NCAA Final Four before losing to Stanford, 3-0. The Cardinal handed Hawai‘i its only two losses all season. Head coach Dave Shoji welcomes back three All-Americans in seniors Lily Kahumoku, Kim Willoughby and Lauren Duggins.

Fresno State finished second in the WAC's Western Division last season with a 10-3 mark and a 23-7 overall record, earning head coach Lindy Vivas her third WAC Coach of the Year honor. Nine letterwinners return for the Bulldogs, including three starters. First team all-WAC selections Kristen Fenton and Carrie Hartt lead the way for Fresno State this season.

Nevada finished third in the Western Division last season with an 8-5 WAC mark and an overall record of 22-10. The Wolf Pack advanced to the WAC Tournament championship game for the first time last season. Nevada loses first team all-WAC middle blocker Michelle More. The Wolf Pack does return 2002 WAC Freshman of the Year Salaia Salavea.

This season, the WAC returns six first-team all-WAC performers from a year ago, including Hawai‘i's Kim Willoughby, Lauren Duggins and Lily Kahumoku. Also returning are Fresno State's Carrie Hartt and Kristen Fenton and Rice's Rebeca Pazo.

The Wahine open the season August 22nd against Kansas State at the NACWAA/State Farm Tournament being hosted by Hawai.


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