BRIDGEPORT, Pa. - The UC San Diego women's water polo team received its highest preseason ranking since 2008 when the Collegiate Water Polo Association announced the Tritons as the 15th-ranked team in the nation on Wednesday morning.
For UCSD, the defending Western Water Polo Association champion, the No. 15 rank (32 points) is the team's highest since debuting at No. 14 four years ago. The Tritons are coming off a seventh-place finish at last year's NCAA Championship and their first WWPA title since 2000. They finished 2011 ranked No. 14.
"Being included in the national Top 20 poll is always something a team wants, and I am happy to see that the voters are seeing our team as a national contender," said UCSD head coach Brad Kreutzkamp. "Being 15th is a good start, but as we proved last year, it's not how you start but how you finish."
Loyola Marymount, who UCSD topped in the WWPA title game in 2011, is the highest-ranked WWPA team at No. 11 (47 points). No other WWPA squads appear in the Top 20, although Colorado State and Santa Clara received five votes and three votes, respectively.
Stanford is the No. 1 selection this year with 100 points, marking the second year in a row that the Cardinal will begin the season with the top spot in the polls. UC Berkeley (94 points), which ranked at No. 2 last year, holds onto the spot entering 2012. UCLA and the University of Southern California (USC) are tied at No. 3 with 89 points after the Bruins and Women of Troy placed third and fourth, respectively, in the final poll of last season.
San Jose State (76 points), UC Irvine (73 points), Arizona State (69 points), San Diego State (59 points), Hawaii (52 points) and Indiana (51 points) round out the Top 10 as nine of the 10 teams in the final 2011 poll's Top 10 rank in the upper echelon once again.
11 of the Top 20 teams will appear at UCSD's February 11-12's annual Triton Invitational at Canyonview Pool. Those teams are: No. 6 UC Irvine, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 8 San Diego State, No. 10 Indiana, No. 11 LMU, No. 13 Hartwick, No. 14 Long Beach State, No. 17 UC Santa Barbara, No. 19 Cal State Northridge, No. 20 Maryland and UCSD.
The Tritons open the season on Thursday, January 26 in a conference tilt with Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo. Then, the team will travel to Maryland for the Terrapin Invitational, January 28-29, before returning for its first home contest on Friday, February 10 against Marist at 6:00 p.m.
For the entire CWPA preseason poll, click here.