Two-time defending Pac-12 champion and defending national champion Stanford enters the season as the conference favorite in a poll released by the Pac-12 on Tuesday. The Cardinal has won nine of the last 13 conference championships.
Stanford, which received 11 first-place votes, totaled 121 points. USC was second with 104 points, followed by Oregon (99), which picked up the remaining first-place vote. Rounding out the top half of the poll were Washington (98), Utah (68) and Arizona (65).
UCLA totaled 63 points to take seventh, followed by Washington State (45), California (45), Colorado (44), Arizona State (23) and Oregon State (17).
Stanford, which has captured 18 Pac-12 championships since 1986, has finished in the top 3 in the conference in 31 of 33 seasons. The coaches have correctly chosen the champion 19 times out of the past 33 polls.
Stanford returns six starters from last season's squad, which went 34-1 overall and won an unprecedented eighth NCAA title. Among the returners are reigning two-time AVCA Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer, and two-time AVCA First Team All-Americans Jenna Gray and Morgan Hentz. Senior Audriana Fitzmorris is a two-time second team pick, while junior Meghan McClure landed on the honorable mention list in 2018.
Fitzmorris, Gray, Hentz, Plummer and graduate transfer Madeleine Gates all earned spots on the 14-member Preseason All-Pac-12 squad. Stanford led all teams with five selections. Oregon and USC each had three players selected.
Stanford opens its season on Friday, Aug. 30 at College of Charleston.