The UC Santa Barbara women’s volleyball team was selected to finish third in the Big West Conference this season, as voted by the nine head coaches, it was announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Back-to-back conference champion Cal Poly was selected to three-peat as it compiled a total of 77 points, including five first-place votes. Hawai’i was picked to finish second with 76 points, along with the remaining four first-place votes.

UCSB followed with 59 points, while UC Irvine (52) and Long Beach State (46) ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. Rounding out the poll was UC Davis with 39 points, CSUN with 27, UC Riverside with 18 and Cal State Fullerton with 11.  

Following a strong 17-12 campaign in 2018 that led to a fourth-place finish and a postseason appearance for the first time since 2013, the Gauchos are poised for a successful fall. Santa Barbara returns five starters from a year ago as well as 12 letterwinners, headlined by three-time AVCA All-American, All-Pacific South Region and All-Big West First Team selection Lindsey Ruddins. In addition to a strong returning unit, the Gauchos will showcase their depth with a talented Top-35 recruiting class added to the mix.

UCSB faces its first test in an exhibition next Friday, Aug. 23 at 2:00 p.m. against Cal State Bakersfield at the Thunderdome. The regular season gets underway on Aug. 30 against LIU Brooklyn at the Buffs Invitational in Boulder, Colorado.

2019 Big West Women’s Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll
1.    Cal Poly (5) – 77
2.    Hawai’i (4) – 76
3.    UC Santa Barbara – 59
4.    UC Irvine – 52
5.    Long Beach State – 46
6.    UC Davis – 39
7.    CSUN – 27
8.    UC Riverside – 18
9.    Cal State Fullerton – 11