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CROSS COUNTRY: The Great West Conference cross country coaches have selected Utah Valley University as the favorite to capture both the men's and the women's 2009 GWC cross country titles, the conference office announced Thursday.

With the announcement, all four Utah Valley fall sports have been projected to win their respective competitions. UVU has been selected to finish number one by the GWC coaches in men's and women's cross country, women's volleyball, and women's soccer.


WOMEN'S SOCCER: Utah State soccer opens the 2009 season, hosting Northern Arizona today at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field at 4 p.m.

The Aggies and head coach Heather Cairns return seven starters and 12 letterwinners from a team that was 13-8-1 in 2008. USU will also be defending its first Western Athletic Conference title after the Aggies ended last season with a perfect 7-0-0 record in league action.

Utah State was picked first by the WAC soccer coaches to defend its title.

The Aggies also had four players named to the preseason all-WAC team, including senior midfielder Lindsey Smart, junior forward Lauren Hansen,sophomore forward Shantel Flanary and sophomore defender Chandra Salmon. All four earned all-WAC honors in 2008.


WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Hawaii Hilo is the preseason favorite to win the Pacific West Conference Volleyball Championship and Vulcan senior outside hitter Josimara Pinheiro (Jundiai, Brazili/Guimaraes) has been chosen as the Preseason Player of the Year as the PacWest prepares to start the 2009 volleyball campaign.

The Vulcans were the top point-getters in the weighted poll after receiving three first-place votes. BYU-Hawaii, last year's champion, actually received four first-place nods but was predicted to finish second. Newcomer Academy of Art was listed third in its first year of eligibility for a PacWest crown after receiving one first-place vote.

Hawaii Pacific, Dixie State and Grand Canyon were selected to finish fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, while Chaminade — which received one first-place vote — was picked to finish seventh. Notre Dame de Namur and Dominican (CA) are slated for eighth and ninth, respectively.

Dixie State senior outside hitter Katie Luna (Mesa, AZ/Westwood) was an All-PacWest Second Team selection in 2008 after compiling 341 kills, 249 digs and 34 blocks. She averaged 3.52 kills and 3.89 points per game, finishing the year with 377.5 total points. Her outstanding 2008 campaign landed her on this year's preseason squad.