Vikings Among Favorites In National Preseason Polls
Brooke Walling is among five returning starters for a Western Washington team that advanced to the national championship game last year.
Brooke Walling is among five returning starters for a Western Washington team that advanced to the national championship game last year.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – Last year’s national runners-up are among the favorites in the national preseason polls.

With a corps of 10 returning players and all five starters from last year’s Elite Eight run, Western Washington opened the season ranked No. 1 in the Division II Sports Information Directors Association (D2SIDA) Preseason Poll and No. 2 in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II Preseason Poll.

The Vikings received one first-place vote and 379 points to take the top spot in the poll over defending Division II champion Glenville State, which earned 374 points and tied for second in the poll with Grand Valley State.

Western Washington received seven first-place votes and 510 total points in the WBCA poll. Grand Valley State is the preseason No. 1 with nine first-place votes and 538 points.

Alaska Anchorage was the first team listed among teams receiving votes in both polls. The Seawolves received 47 points in the WBCA poll and 20 points in the D2SIDA poll.

Western Washington finished with a 25-6 overall record and was the GNAC regular-season champion with a 10-4 mark. The Vikings lost to Central Washington in the GNAC Championships final but bounced to win the NCAA West Regional, downing Cal State East Bay 73-59 in the final, and rolling to the Division II championship game. Glenville State won 85-72 in the final.

The Vikings are led by a solid core of returning starters that includes junior Brooke Walling, who was named Honorable Mention All-GNAC and to both the West Region and Elite Eight all-tournament teams, senior guard Avery Dykstra, who was a Second Team All-GNAC selection and the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, and Honorable Mention All-GNAC sophomore guard Riley Dykstra.

Alaska Anchorage finished 2021-22 with a 20-7 overall record and placed second in the GNAC regular-season with a 12-4 record. The Seawolves advanced to the semifinals of the GNAC Championships before being ousted in the first round of the West Regional by Western Washington.

The Seawolves will build around a core of three returning starters that includes senior guards Jahnna Hajudukovich and Nicole Pinkney and sophomore guard Jazzpher Evans.

The preseason national rankings mirror the selections of the GNAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll. Western Washington is the conference favorite with eight of 10 first-place votes and 98 points. Alaska Anchorage received one first-place vote and is picked second with 84 points.

Western Washington opens the 2022-23 season at home, hosting Azusa Pacific on Nov. 18 and Cal State San Marcos on Nov. 19 as part of the West Region Crossover Classic. Alaska Anchorage opens on Sunday with a game at La Sierra in Riverside, California.