VOLLEYBALL: The Weber State volleyball team has been picked to finish fifth in the upcoming Big Sky season, according to a preseason vote of the league's head coaches released Tuesday by the conference.
Portland State, the 2008 conference tournament champions, was picked first in the poll with seven first-place votes and a total of 63 points. Eastern Washington, which won the 2008 regular season title, was second with two first-place votes and 58 points. Northern Colorado was picked third, totaling 47 points, and Montana was fourth with 39 points.
Weber State totaled 35 points to finish fifth, ahead of Sacramento, Northern Arizona, Idaho State and Montana State.
In 2008 the Wildcats posted a 21-13 overall record and a 9-7 record in Big Sky action. The 21 wins was the most wins by a Weber State team since 1988 and was just the sixth time in school history with 20 wins in a season.
Head coach Al Givens returns for his 17th season as head coach at Weber State. He is the longest tenured coach in the Big Sky and is fourth in league history in victories.
The Wildcats lose just two seniors off last year's squad and will have seven returning letter winners, including senior Chelsea Bair, who earned second team All-Big Sky honors last season and ranks in the WSU career top 10 in four categories.
Weber State, which began practice for the season Monday, starts the 2009 season Aug. 28-29 when it hosts the Best Western Canyon Pines Weber State Invitational at Swenson Gym. The 'Cats will take on Utah State, Utah Valley and Gonzaga in their first home tournament in four years.
VOLLEYBALL: USU'S Chelsea Fowles and Christine Morrill were both named to the 2009 Western Athletic Conference preseason volleyball team that was announced Tuesday. The preseason all-WAC team, which consists of 12 players, was voted on by the league's nine coaches.
Fowles, a junior setter from Hollister, Calif. (San Benito High School), earned second-team all-WAC honors as a sophomore, as she finished the year ranking third in the conference with 9.49 assists per set. Fowles was also named to the WAC's all-preseason team in 2008 after being named the league's Freshman
of the Year in 2007.
Morrill, a junior libero from Neola, Utah (Union High School), also earned second-team all-WAC honors in 2008, as she ranked fourth in the conference with 3.79 digs per set. Morrill was the only libero named to the WAC's all-preseason team, while Fowles was one of just two setters along with Dani Mafua of Hawai'i.
Utah State opens the 2009 season on Aug. 28 against Weber State in a tournament hosted by the Wildcats. USU's first home match of the season will be against in-state rival BYU on Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
WOMEN'S SOCCER: Westminster begins the 2009 season with a trip to Orem for a 6 p.m. game today against Utah Valley University. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two Utah schools and the first of three in-state opponents for the Griffins in 2009. The game will be played at the Wolverine Soccer Field, located just west of the McKay Events Center on the Utah Valley University campus. This game is an exhibition game for the Wolverines.
The 2009 season will be the third in the history of women's soccer at Westminster. The Griffins enter this season with high expectations after a trip to the Frontier Conference Tournament last season. They return 17 players from a squad that went 7-11-1, including the goalkeeper and second-leading scorer. The team also has a great home field advantage, posting a 10-4-1 record on Dumke Field over the previous two seasons.
Along with Dayna Winter-Nolte at keeper, and Maddie Spere, with five goals, the Griffins bring back All-Frontier Conference defender Michelle Erickson. Brinna Bennion, Maddie Maldonado and Elaina Pappas all return to the back line, while Sarah Swenson and Rachel Watson return to provide some offense.
Newcomers Megan Maldonado and Nicole Taylor should give the Griffins a few more weapons offensively. They also added depth at goalie with the addition of Lindsay Bekken and Jamie Richards. Lindsay Judd and Jennifer Prescott will bring depth to the Griffins back line.
The midfield should receive a big boost from newcomer Nicole Taylor. She spent the 2007 season playing for Penn State University after a brilliant prep career at Waterford in Salt Lake City.