Three Pac-12 volleyball top-20 matches scheduled this week
Seven Pac-12 teams are ranked this week setting up a trio of top-25 matchups including what could be a potential battle for first place in the standings. Newly-crowned No. 10 WASHINGTON STATE and No. 20 OREGON are the last two undefeated teams in Conference play, both sitting at 4-0. Both are scheduled to face each other on Sunday afternoon after each opens the week with a match on Friday, including the Ducks hosting No. 8 WASHINGTON.
ARIZONA STATE travels to No. 22 USC on Wednesday to be featured on Pac-12 Network’s Spike Night. The Sun Devils are looking for their first league win while the Trojans have bounced back with a pair of victories after starting Conference play at 0-2.
No. 7 STANFORD hosts No. 19 COLORADO on Friday for the third top-20 clash this week.
• THIS WEEK’S AVCA POLL … WASHINGTON STATE continues to put together a Cinderella season, claiming last week’s headlines after posting an upset of STANFORD. Because of that, the Cougars are ranked No. 10 in the AVCA Coaches poll this week, the program’s highest ranking since being rating No. 7 in 2002. The Cougs made their first appearance in the polling last week in nearly seven years.
A top-10 showdown last week in Seattle did not disappoint as the Cardinal came out victorious in a five-set thriller at Washington. This week, Stanford leaps over UW to No. 7 and the Huskies slip to No. 8.
Four more teams appear in the polling, bunched together from No. 18-22. UCLA is at No. 18, followed by COLORADO at No. 19, OREGON at No. 20 and USC is at No. 22. UTAH is also receiving votes, dropping out of the poll.
• NCAA STATS LEADERS … Stanford continues to boast the best blocking average in the nation, this week posting a NCAA-leading 3.39 average. Washington State has also been dominant at the net, ranking second in the country with a team average of 3.33 bpg. Washington and Colorado have also been having good seasons at the net, the Huskies ranking 14th (2.87) and the Buffs coming in at 19th (2.82).
UCLA can also be found near the top of four statistical categories, posting the fifth-best digs average (18.06) and kills per game (14.62), and seventh in assists per game (13.63). It is also 17th in opponent hitting percentage (0.152).
Oregon’s .313 hitting percentage is the third-best in the country, while its 14.56 kills per set are sixth just behind UCLA. The Ducks are also just behind the Bruins in assists per set, ranking eighth in the country with a per game average of 13.56.
WSU’s presence at the net limits opponents to just a .129 hitting percentage, which is the fifth-lowest in the country and best in the Pac-12.
The Pac-12 also boasts six of the nation’s top 20 blockers, with Stanford and WSU touting two each. Stanford’s Audrianna Fitzmorris ranks fifth in the country in the category (1.62) and teammate Inky Ajanaku is 12th with a 1.52 average. The Cougs’ Claire Martin (1.55) and Taylor Mims (1.48) coming in at 12th and 15th, respectively.
Oregon State freshman Ronika Stone has the best hitting percentage in the Conference at .442, which also ranks fourth in the country. UTAH’s Adora Anae has been a big offensive producer for her squad, posting a 4.73 kills per game average, while tallying 5.42 points per game. Both those numbers rank 10th and 16th in the country, respectively.
• NCAA RPI … Four Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top 11 of the RPI, which was released for the first time this season on Monday. Nine are in the top 40 and 10 in total are in the top 85. For the full ranking, click on the link above.
• NCAA’S ACTIVE CAREER LEADERS … The Conference’s active leader in kills, 2015 All-Pac-12 honoree WASHINGTON STATE’s Kyra Holt ranks fourth in the NCAA in career kills among active players and is coming up on 1,500 kills which would put her in the top 53 in Pac-12 history (1,511). ARIZONA’s Penina Snuka also hit a significant milestone in this short season, going over the 4,000-assist mark, ranking third in total assists among the NCAA’s active leaders (4,324). Snuka is the 28th player in Pac-12 history to go over the 4,000-assist mark and ranks 17th all-time.
• COUGS LOOKING GOOD … The last five years under head coach Jen Greeny, Washington State has recorded strong outings during the non-conference slate, last year going 11-1. However, WSU has struggled to carry that momentum into Conference play. If the first weekend of league play is any indication, the Cougs have broken through last weekend posting a pair of road top-10 wins, going 2-0 for the first time since 2003. Their win in Seattle was their first since 2001 and the win at UCLA was the team’s first victory on the Bruin campus since 1997.
WSU followed up the weekend Conference opener with another sweep which included a win over then-No. 9 Stanford. It was only the fourth WSU victory for the Cougs in the series.
WSU is 4-1 in matches vs. top-25 opponents this season. It is also 4-0 to start Pac-12 play, its best start to league play since head coach Jen Greeny was a player on the squad in 1997.
• UTES POST UPSET … The Utes got off to a historic start in league play, going 2-0 to start Pac-12 play for the first time in school history. Utah upended Colorado in Boulder in a five-set thriller. It is Utah’s second win over a top-20 opponent this season.
• USC is just one wins from reaching the 1,000-win threshold. The Trojans helped head coach Mick Haley post his 400th victory at USC (402-98) earlier this season.
• Stanford was voted the Pac-12 preseason favorite by the league’s 12 coaches. The Cardinal received nine first-place votes to finish ahead of UCLA, which received one first-place vote. UW was second in the polling with one first-place vote and Oregon was voted fourth.
• Three AVCA All-Americans return from last year, including Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Hayley Hodson of Stanford. She was a second team All-American last year. Also back from last year are third-team All-American and Pac-12 Libero of the Year Taylor Formico, as well as the Cardinal’s Merete Lutz.
• Nine of the 14 players named to the 2015 All-Pac-12 team return for 2016. Additionally, Stanford's Inky Ajanaku, a three-time All-American, also comes back after sitting out all of 2015 because of injury.
• Pac-12 teams have had early success in recent years, posting an impressive 332-81 (.804) record in the first weekend of play since 2002. Last season, league teams won a combined 27 matches while posting a .794 winning percentage.
• The Pac-12 welcomes three new coaches to the sidelines this season. Stevie Mussie took over at ARIZONA STATE after serving two seasons at volleyball powerhouse Penn State, helping the Nittany Lions win a national title in 2014. Jesse Mahoney did not have a long drive to get to Colorado. An alum, receiving his undergraduate and lay degree from CU, he returned to Boulder after spending four years as head coach at Denver. Oregon State will be led by Mark Barnard, who is no stranger to the Beavers. He spent the last 11 seasons in Corvallis under former head coach Taras Liskevych.
• FAB Freshman … Pac-12 volleyball continues to recruit marquee student-athletes. Four Pac-12 teams landed at least two Volleyball Magazine FAB 50 recruit with STANFORD pacing the Conference with five. USC also signed the No. 1 recruit in the nation in freshman Khalia Lanier.
• Once again, the Pac-12 will have the most comprehensive volleyball television coverage of any league in the country. 94 total matches will be broadcast live, with 91 being televised on the Conference’s Pac-12 Network. Another three more were selected to be televised on ESPNU. For the full television schedule, visit pac-12.com.
CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded standings)
|Teams||Pac-12 Record||Overall Record|
UPCOMING SCHEDULE (All Times Pacific)
|Wednesday, Oct. 5|
|ARIZONA STATE at #22 USC||P12N||7 p.m. PT|
|Friday, Oct. 7|
|#19 COLORADO at #7 STANFORD||P12N||6 p.m. PT|
|#10 WASHINGTON STATE at OREGON STATE||P12N||7 p.m. PT|
|ARIZONA at #22 USC||Live Stream||7 p.m. PT|
|ARIZONA STATE at #18 UCLA||P12N||7 p.m. PT|
|#8 WASHINGTON at #20 OREGON||ESPNU||8 p.m. PT|
|UTAH at CALIFORNIA||P12N||8 p.m. PT|
|Sunday, Oct. 9|
|ARIZONA at #18 UCLA||P12N||11 a.m. PT|
|#10 WASHINGTON STATE at #20 OREGON||Live Stream||1 p.m. PT|
|UTAH at #7 STANFORD||Live Stream||1 p.m. PT|
|#8 WASHINGTON at OREGON STATE||P12N||3 p.m. PT|
|#19 COLORADO at CALIFORNIA||P12N||3 p.m. PT|
2016 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive: Taylor Mims, So., Washington State
Defensive: Taylor Whittingham, Sr., USC
Freshman: Ronika Stone, Fr., Oregon
Offensive: Gabby Simpson, COLO; Taylor Agost, ORE; Mary-Kate Marshall, OSU; Jordan Anderson, UCLA; Elise Ruddins, USC; Crissy Jones, WASH.
Defensive: Laura Larson, ARIZ; Cierra Simpson, COLO; Amanda Benson, ORE; Mary-Kate Marshall, OSU; Taylor Formicio, UCLA; Tia Scambray, WASH; Taylor Mims, WSU.
Freshman: Kylie Miller, UCLA; Khalia Lanier, USC; Avie Niece, WASH; Alexis Dirige, WSU.
2016 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
2016 NATIONAL WEEKLY HONORS
|Sep. 28||ESPNW||Kyra Holt, WSU|
|Sep. 6||AVCA||Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN|
- The Pac-12 has captured six of the last 15 NCAA crowns (2011 - UCLA, 2005 - Washington, 2004 - Stanford, 2003 - USC, 2002 - USC, 2001 - Stanford) and 14 NCAA titles overall.
- The current group of Pac-12 volleyball coaches finished the 2015 season with over 5,000 Division I victories to its credit, having compiled 5,040 wins in a combined 230 years of head coaching experience. That averages out to nearly 22 wins a season for each coach per season.
- In addition, these coaches have guided NCAA Division I teams to 38 NCAA semifinal appearances and eight NCAA titles. In the last 14 years, seven different coaches have been named the ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Coach of the Year and/or the AVCA Coach of the Year - Arizona’s David Rubio (2001 ASICS), California’s Rich Feller (2007 ASICS, 2010 ASICS and AVCA), Stanford’s John Dunning (2001 AVCA), UCLA’s Mike Sealy (2011 AVCA), USC’s Mick Haley (2003 AVCA, 2015 AVCA), Washington’s Jim McLaughlin (2004 ASICS and AVCA), and UCLA’s Andy Banachowski (2006 ASICS and AVCA).
- The Pac-12 has had 10 or more All-Americans selections in seven of the last 10 years. This year, eight were named to the AVCA All-America squad, USC’s Samantha Bricio and Washington’s Lianna Sybeldon were named to the first team, Stanford had a pair of second-team selections in Hayley Hodson and Merete Lutz, with USC’s Alicia Ogoms joining them. On the third team, Stanford’s Madi Bugg and Brittany Howard, and UCLA’s Taylor Formico earned spots. Ten former Pac-12 players have earned All-America honors four times, while 18 players in all have earned All-American honors three times.
- Since 1990, Pac-12 players garnered AVCA Player of the Year honors 14 times, including the five of the last six - CAL’s Carli Lloyd (2010), USC’s Alex Jupiter (2011), ORE’s Alaina Bergsma (2012), WASH’s Krista Vansant (2013) and the latest honoree in USC’s Samantha Bricio. The NCAA Honda Sports Award honor has been bestowed upon a Pac-12 volleyball player 13 times, including Vansant in 2013.
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