Two women’s teams ranked high in preseason polls

With both the UW-Eau Claire soccer and volleyball teams receiving high rankings in their respective preseason polls, the pressure is on for both teams to perform up to par.

The soccer team finished last season with a 23-3 record and enters the 2007 season as the two-time defending conference champion. The team is picked to win its third straight WIAC championship this year after receiving six votes from the league’s sports information directors, but the players aren’t taking it too seriously.

“We don’t talk about stats,” senior Anna Talbot said. “We don’t want it to go to our heads. We just pay attention to each team, because any team can win on any given day.”

Head coach Sean Yengo, who returns for his 11th season after being named WIAC Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2006, echoed Talbot’s comments.

“We are kind of downplaying it, and taking it one game at a time,” he said. “It’s an honor to be favored, but previous success doesn’t guarantee future success.”

Twelve freshmen joined the soccer team’s roster this year, while the team lost only three seniors from last season.

The volleyball team, on the other hand, returns only two starters. First-year volleyball head coach Kim Wudi, however, isn’t too worried.

“We have a lot of good players coming back,” she said. “They were behind five stellar players, and they didn’t have a chance to show what they can do.”

The volleyball team, which shared the WIAC championship with UW-Oshkosh last season, is ranked 18th of 25 in a preseason poll released by the American Volleyball Coach’s Association.

“Our conference is strong, top to bottom,” Wudi said, “It’s really, really tough to predict who will finish first.”

That isn’t stopping the volleyball team from pushing for first, however.

“I’m glad we’re expected to finish high,” Wudi said, “When the bar is set high, it forces our players and coaches to rise to the challenge.”