SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Coming off a Big West Championship season, UCSB was selected third in the conference's 2014 preseason poll, as it collected the second-most first place votes. Hawai'i was voted as the preseason favorite with 77 total points and five first place votes, while Long Beach State was second with 68 points and one vote for first. The Gauchos received 63 total points and a pair of first place votes.
History was made in 2013 with three teams finishing tied for first in the Big West standings at 13-3. In capturing the program's first conference crown since 2005, the Gauchos tied powerhouse Hawai'i and Cal State Northridge. With a historic upset victory in Honolulu and a season sweep of the Matadors, UCSB held the tiebreaker over its fellow conference champions and earned the Big West's automatic bid into last year's NCAA Tournament. Last season marked UCSB's return to the postseason after a three year absence.
See below for the rest of the preseason poll.
2014 Big West Women's Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Hawai'i (5) - 77
2. Long Beach State (1) - 68
3. UC Santa Barbara (2) - 63
4. CSUN (1) - 60
5. UC Irvine - 42
6. Cal Poly - 34
7. UC Davis - 25
8. Cal State Fullerton - 24
9. UC Riverside - 12
The Gauchos will be returning five of its starters and will be once again led by the 2013 Big West Coach of the Year Nicole Lantagne Welch.
Among the key returners is outside hitter Ali Spindt who was named the Freshman of the Year and first team all-conference last season. Her fellow outside hitter, Ali Barbeau was also an All-Big West first teamer, while middle blocker Phoebe Grunt was selected honorable mention all-conference.
Fans can get to know all of the 2014 Gaucho volleyball players with the Meet the Players series set to release at 9 a.m. each day of next week.
UCSB has a challenging schedule for the 2014 season, as it will face five postseason teams from a year ago. To get more information on the UCSB Women's Volleyball team, be sure to follow the Gauchos on Twitter, @UCSB_Volleyball, and on Instagram, @UCSB_Volleyball.