MSUB Women Get Nod in Preseason Coaches' Poll
MSU Billings head coach Kevin Woodin (center) guided the Yellowjackets to a third-place finish in the GNAC standings in 2012-13.
MSU Billings head coach Kevin Woodin (center) guided the Yellowjackets to a third-place finish in the GNAC standings in 2012-13.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Great Northwest Coaches' Poll 2012-13 Records Pts.
1. Montana State Billings (6) 17-10 (11-7, T-3rd) 94
2. Seattle Pacific (1) 17-11 (10-8, 6th) 80
3. Western Washington (3) 29-4 (17-1, 1st) 78
4. Northwest Nazarene 20-9 (11-7, T-3rd) 69
   Simon Fraser 25-6 (15-3, 2nd) 69
6. Alaska Anchorage 17-10 (11-7, T-3rd) 58
7. Central Washington 9-17 (4-14, 8th) 40
8. Saint Martin's 12-16 (5-13, 7th) 29
9. Western Oregon 8-20 (3-15, T-9th) 19
10. Alaska Fairbanks 5-21 (3-15, T-9th) 15
(Note: First-place votes in parentheses. Points awarded on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis).


PORTLAND, Ore. – The return of Bobbi Knudsen, the second-leading Great Northwest Athletic Conference scorer from a season ago, as well as two other 2012-13 all-conference selections helped Montana State Billings earn six-of-10 first-place votes in the 2013-14 GNAC preseason coaches’ poll and occupy the top spot with 94 points.

The Yellowjackets, coached by 10th-year head coach Kevin Woodin, finished in a three-way tie for third place a season ago, and suffered a disappointing loss to Seattle Pacific in the first round of the 2012-13 GNAC championship tournament.

With four returning starters amongst the seven letter winners MSUB welcomes back, the Jackets will count on Knudsen’s All-American potential to lead them to a first-place finish. Also back for MSU Billings are Kayleen Goggins and Janiel Olson, two honorable mention All-GNAC picks in 2012-13. Goggins averaged 11.6 points per game last season, while Olson averaged 9.6 points and grabbed 9.0 rebounds.

Seattle Pacific checks in at No. 2 in the preseason poll, capturing 80 points and one first-place vote. Falcon head coach Julie Heisey welcomes back nine returning players, including 2012-13 first team All-GNAC select Katie Benson amongst her four returning starters.

Benson averaged 16.4 points per contest a season ago, but SPU finished in sixth place in the GNAC standings with a 10-8 mark in conference play. Aubree Callen, another returning All-GNAC player for SPU, averaged nearly 13 points per game for the Falcons last season. 

Despite grabbing three first-place votes, Western Washington finds itself in third place in the preseason poll with 78 points. The Vikings, who won the GNAC championship and advanced all the way to the NCAA DII national semifinals a season ago, suffered significant losses and return just two starters this season. Katie Colard averaged 7.6 points per game while fellow starter Sarah Hill contributed 6.2 for an offense that led the GNAC with 71.3 points per contest in 2012-13. Joining Colard and Hill will be Sydney Donaldson, who figures to fill in an important starting role in 2013-14.

Carmen Dolfo enters her 23rd season as head coach of the program, and with a career record of 475-173 is 25 victories shy of becoming the first-ever women’s coach amongst all Washington colleges to reach the milestone of 500 wins.

Northwest Nazarene and Simon Fraser each received 69 points in the preseason poll, tying for fifth place.

The Crusaders welcome first-year head coach Ryan Bragdon who inherits five returning starters amongst 10 total letter winners. Last season, NNU tied for third place in the GNAC standings before falling to WWU in the semifinals of the championship tournament. Amongst NNU’s returners is 2012-13 GNAC scoring champion Megan Hingston, who averaged 18.6 points a season ago.

Simon Fraser said goodbye to 2012-13 GNAC Player of the Year Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, who has focused her talents on a professional playing career since graduating. The Clan does welcome back three starters including Erin Chambers, who earned second team All-GNAC accolades with 13.5 points per game as a sophomore.

In sixth place in the 2013-14 preseason poll is Alaska Anchorage, which finished third behind first-year coach Ryan McCarthy last season. The Seawolves welcome back three starters and five returning letter winners, as well as a pair of junior college transfers from Gillette College (Wyo.) including National Junior College Coaches Association of America All-American KeKe Wright.

Central Washington received 40 points in the 2013-14 preseason poll, slotting the Wildcats in seventh place. Third-year head coach Shawn Nelson welcomes back nine letter winners and a full cast of five starters.

Amongst CWU’s returners are second team All-GNAC pick Jessica VanDyke and honorable mention selection Jasmine Parker. Joining the Wildcats this season are North Idaho College transfers Mollie Kramer and Angela Woods, as well as Whatcom CC transfer Erika Locker. CWU finished the 2012-13 season in eighth place, with a disappointing 4-14 record in GNAC play.

Checking in at eighth in the poll is Saint Martin’s, which welcomes back second team All-GNAC forward Chelsea Haskey amongst three other starters. The Saints finished last season in seventh place with a conference record of 5-13 behind 17-year coaching veteran Tim Healy.

Western Oregon has been slotted to finish ninth in the 2013-14 preseason poll, as first-year head coach Holli Howard-Carpenter will fill the void left by seven-year WOU veteran Greg Bruce.

The Wolves finished tied for ninth in last season’s standings, with an overall record of 8-20 and a 3-15 mark in GNAC play. WOU welcomes back five returning starters including senior Melissa Fowler and junior Dana Goularte. Fowler averaged 9.2 points per contest a season ago en route to earning honorable mention All-GNAC accolades.

Rounding out the preseason poll is Alaska Fairbanks, receiving 15 points and landing in 10th place. The Nanooks finished tied for ninth in 2012-13, with an overall mark of 5-21 and a 3-15 record in GNAC contests.

UAF head coach Cody Bench is in the midst of rebuilding her squad, as the 2013-14 team features just five returning letter winners and seven freshman and sophomores. Amongst UAF’s returnees is Benissa Bulaya, who led the team with 8.8 points per game a season ago.


2013-14 exhibition games get underway next week, while preseason play fully picks up the weekend of Nov. 8. Each team is set for an 18-game conference slate that will run through March 1, with the GNAC championship tournament spanning four days the following week.

The 2013-14 GNAC championship will be held in Lacey, Wash., beginning on March 5 with the championship game set for March 8. The top six finishers in the 2013-14 regular season will earn bids to the tournament, with the top two teams receiving first-round byes.