Coach George Kuntz's Anteaters, who have made NCAA Tournament appearances three of the last four seasons, received six of eight first-place votes and totaled 29 points in the four-team division.
UCI senior defender Everett Pitts and junior midfielder Christian Santana were named to the 11-player preseason all-conference team.
Pitts was a first-team All-Big West choice in 2011, when UCI finished 16-6-1, 6-3-1 in conference, won the Big West regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Pitts had one goal as a junior.
Santana had four goals and five assists in 2011. His 13 points (two for a goal and one for an assist) ranked No. 4 on the team.
UCI, which opens its season Aug. 24 at San Diego, is ranked No. 13 in the National Soccer Coaches Assn. of American preseason poll. It's the program's best preseason ranking, topping the 2009 squad that opened at No. 15.
This is the first year of division play in the eight-team Big West, which adds Sacramento State as a conference member in men's soccer this season.
UC Santa Barbara was a unanimous pick to win the North Division. The Gauchos received all eight first-place votes to total 32 points.
Teams will play each team in their division twice in conference play, while meeting teams in the other division just once.
UCI is scheduled to face UCSB on Oct. 5 in Santa Barbara.
— From staff reports
UCI picked ninth
The UC Irvine women's volleyball team was picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Big West Conference this season.
The Anteaters, who open their season Aug. 24 at Kansas State, were 10-19 last season when they were 4-12 in conference play to tie for last with UC Riverside in the nine-team Big West.
UCI received 31 points in the 2012 poll, better than only UC Riverside (14).
Conference newcomer Hawaii tops the poll with 99 points. Hawaii also recorded nine of 10 first-place votes.
Long Beach State (88 points) was picked second, while Cal State Northridge (72) was third.
The remainder of the poll, in order is: UC Santa Barbara and Pacific (60 points), Cal State Fullerton (46), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (43) and UC Davis (37).
Cal Poly received the other first-place vote.
— From staff reports