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Las Cruces, Nm — The two-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion New Mexico State volleyball team has been picked by the conference coaches to win the 2014 WAC regular-season crown.
The Aggies, who won the 2013 regular-season title after being the preseason favorites, received six of the eight first-place votes. Seattle U garnered the other two first-place votes. NM State earned 48 total points, followed by the Redhawks with 43 points and Utah Valley with 35 points.
“Preseason rankings don’t mean much, but I like our chances of winning the conference again,” Aggie head coach Michael Jordan said. “We have quite a few returners and we get three players back from injury who redshirted last season. Our freshmen class is very good and this team has shown a great work ethic so far.”
The WAC also announced its preseason All-WAC team. The Aggies, who last year saw Jordan earn the WAC Coach of the Year and former middle hitter Desiree Scott earn the WAC Player of the Year, have three players, all in their junior season, on the preseason list.
Setter Taylor Livoti, middle hitter Gwen Murphy and outside hitter Bradley Nash represent NM State on the preseason All-WAC list. The only other team to have at least three players on the list is Utah Valley.
Murphy finished the 2013 campaign by being honored on the All-WAC first team after leading the conference with a .470 hitting percentage. Livoti led the Aggies with 10 double-doubles last season while Nash was not far behind with eight double-doubles. Nash also was named to the All-WAC Tournament team after NM State’s second-consecutive WAC tournament championship in 2013.
“Gwen, Brad and Taylor should have outstanding seasons,” Jordan said. “They’ll lead us and do a very good job of it.”
Utah Valley’s junior middle blocker Lauren Bakker was picked by the coaches as the WAC Preseason Player of the Year.
The Aggies kick off the 2014 season with the annual Alumni Match on Saturday, Aug. 23, beginning at 3 p.m. (MT). NM State will then head to a tournament in Utah before returning home to host two tournaments inside the Pan American Center beginning Thursday, Sept. 4.
2014 WAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Rank Team (first-place votes) Points
1 NM State (6) 48
2 Seattle U (2) 43
3 Utah Valley 35
4 Missouri-Kansas City 27
5 Bakersfield 26
6 Grand Canyon 22
7 Texas-Pan American 16
8 Chicago State 7
2014 Preseason All-WAC Team
Player Yr. Pos. School
Lauren Bakker Jr. MB Utah Valley
Sydney Crimmins Jr. OH UMKC
Shannon Dugan Sr. OH Grand Canyon
Haley Durham Jr. MB UTPA
Emma Hagedorn Jr. MB UMKC
Iris Ivanis So. OH Seattle U
Taylor Livoti Jr. S New Mexico State
Gwen Murphy Jr. MH New Mexico State
Bradley Nash Jr. OH New Mexico State
Kalani Norris Sr. OH Utah Valley
Molly O’Hagan Sr. MB Bakersfield
Mackenzie Phelps Sr. L Grand Canyon
Martina Samadan Jr. M Seattle U
McKenna Tait Sr. L Utah Valley
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