For the third-straight year, Fresno Pacific University (Calif.) will begin the season at No. 1. The Sunbirds secured all 19 possible first-place votes, earning 529 points and extending their streak to 35 consecutive weeks as the nation’s top-ranked team.
Fresno Pacific and the Golden State Athletic Conference swept the top three spots with Concordia University (Calif.) coming in at No. 2 and California Baptist University at No. 3. The GSAC teams are followed by No. 4 Lee University and No. 5 Northwestern College (Iowa). The GSAC leads all conferences with six teams ranked in the top 25, five of which are in the top 10.
“I am excited, yet a little apprehensive about the rating,” said coach Andrea Hudson, who will begin her 20th year as head coach when her Lady Flames travel to Carson-Newman for a 1 p.m. match on Saturday.
“Our girls definitely earned that spot from last year’s national tournament success,” she added. “However, this year we are a completely different team and we have to put all the pieces together to earn that ranking.”
She noted that the club’s purpose and goal is to begin to come together as a team and tackle the hurdles they will be facing throughout the season. “We will be playing eight of the top 25 teams over the next two months. All of them will be strong. Hopefully at the end of this season we will be a better team than last year.”
Fresno Pacific concluded its 2009 season with a 38-0 overall record and a third-straight national title, defeating Georgetown College (Ky.), 25-15, 25-18, 25-12. Setting out to reach an unprecedented fourth consecutive national title, head coach Dennis Janzen returns his entire roster with the exception of two players.
After finishing the 2009 regular season at No. 19 in the polls, Lee jumps 15 spots to occupy the No. 4 position with 448 points. With a perfect record in the Southern States Athletic Conference (12-0), the Lady Flames finished strong by upsetting Northwestern in the National Championship quarterfinals. After whipping Georgetown in national tournament pool play, the Lady Flames came up short in a tight (five set) battle with Georgetown in the semi-final round.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences. The next poll will be announced on Sept. 7.