LOS ANGELES – The UCLA women’s volleyball team, led by new head coach Alfee Reft, was selected to finish fifth in the annual Pac-12 Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, announced Friday.
The Bruins received 75 total votes. Stanford was tabbed to repeat as conference champions with 121 votes, including 11 first-place votes. Coaches were not able to select their own teams in the preseason poll. Oregon received the one other first-place vote.
UCLA opens the 2023 season in exactly one week with two matches at LSU, beginning Friday, Aug. 25 at 4:30 p.m. (PT) and Saturday, Aug. 26 at 3 p.m. (PT) on the SEC Network. Single-match tickets for the Bruins’ 10 home contests will be going on sale Monday, Aug. 21 at 10 a.m. (PT).
UCLA’s top two returning point scorers are two-time All-Pac-12 middle blocker Anna Dodson and outside hitter Iman Ndiaye. Dodson, an AVCA Pacific South All-Region Honorable Mention selection in 2022, led UCLA with 77 blocks and a .330 hitting percentage. She ranked second on the team with 2.54 kills per set and notched double-digit kills in 13 of her 27 matches played.
Ndiaye was named All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention last season, ranking second on the squad with 269 kills (2.61 KPS). Also returning is Pac-12 All-Freshman outside hitter Grayce Olson who ranked fourth on the team with 164 kills. She made six starts and appeared in 23 matches in her debut season.
Joining the Bruins through the transfer portal are middle blocker Desiree Becker (Northwestern) and outside hitters Joy Umeh (UC Irvine) and Carly Hendrickson (Florida). Becker comes to Westwood following her best season yet at Northwestern where she was the leading blocker on a Wildcats squad that finished with an 18-14 record for their highest win total since 2010. She finished the season with a team-high 118 blocks and ranked fifth with 177 kills over 110 sets on the season.
Umeh, a two-time All-Big West selection in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, has one year of eligibility remaining with the Bruins in 2023. As UC Irvine’s right side hitter, Umeh led the Anteaters in kills her sophomore and junior seasons with 425 kills and 395 kills, respectively.
Notable position changes on the 2023 squad include Mokihana Tufono who moved from setter to libero and Kate Lane who moved from setter to opposite hitter.