Stanford men's water polo will open up the 2015 season ranked fourth in the nation following the release of the Varsity Preseason National Top 20 on Thursday.
The Cardinal totaled 87 points. UCLA topped the poll with 99 points followed by USC (93 points) and California (90 points). Pacific rounded out the top five with 78 points.
Voted on by a panel of coaches from the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA), Western Water Polo Association (WWPA), Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the polls will be compiled and released on Wednesday during each week of the season through the week following the NCAA Championships.
Coming off a season in which it posted its highest win total since 1994 and won the program's first MPSF Championship since 2004, the Cardinal returns three All-Americans to a squad looking to improve on its third-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
Stanford's returnees, which include four of its top five goal scorers, are highlighted by senior Bret Bonanni, who continues his assault on the MPSF all-time scoring record.
The only player in MPSF history to post multiple 90-goal seasons, Bonanni enters the season with 266 career goals, 66 shy of Tony Azevedo's school and conference record (332).
Back with Bonanni are fellow All-Americans BJ Churnside, the 2014 NCAA Elite 89 award winner, and Drew Holland in the cage.
That trio will lead a group that must replace All-Americans Alex Bowen, Conner Cleary and Nick Hoversten.
Bowen and Bonanni, both 2015 Cutino Award finalists, played with the United States Men's Senior National Team this summer alongside junior Jackson Kimbell and Azevedo.
Stanford begins its campaign next weekend with five games over two days at the Harvard Invitational and Bruno Fall Classic in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island.
The Cardinal returns home to host the 16-team NorCal Invitational the weekend of September 19 and 20 at Avery Aquatic Center.