This week in in Pac-12 volleyball

Last week wrapped up with a night of upsets, as four of the five matches resulted in the unranked or lower-ranked teams defeating the higher-ranked opponent. Six Pac-12 teams are ranked this week, but as many as eight have been ranked in the top 25 at once.

Conference play continues with a top-20 matchup between No. 20 UCLA and No. 16 OREGON on Pac-12 Networks’ Wednesday Spike Night in Eugene. The Ducks look to extend their momentum from defeating No. 13 WASHINGTON STATE on Sunday to get back into a tie for first place in the Pac-12, while the Bruins, who have not lost two in a row this season, look to bounce back from being upset.

Other top-25 clashes this week will be between No. 21 UTAH traveling to No. 7 WASHINGTON on Friday, and then the Utes head to WSU on Sunday. COLORADO and USC look to get some key wins and get back into the rankings after dropping out this week. The Buffs travel to face the Cougs on Friday and the Huskies on Sunday, while the Trojans are also on the road to Eugene and Corvallis.

THIS WEEK’S AVCA POLL … WASHINGTON is leadings all Pac-12 teams again in the AVCA Coaches polling, this week earning a No. 7 ranking. The Conference has six teams in the top 25 after having as many as eight at once this season, including last week. STANFORD is No. 12 this week, followed by No. 12 WASHINGTON STATE. OREGON moved up four spots to No. 16 and UCLA slipped to No. 20. UTAH returns to the top 25, coming in at No. 21.

COLORADO and USC both dropped out of the polling, but are receiving votes, as is ARIZONA, which had a road sweep of the Los Angeles teams the first time in the history of the program.

NCAA STATS LEADERS … Stanford and Washington State continue to lead the nation in blocking average, the Cardinal owning the best average in the country at 3.52, while the Cougars are just behind at 3.53, for the second-best average in the nation. Four of the country’s top-20 blocking teams reside in the Pac-12, with Washington ranking 16th (2.85) and Colorado ranking 19th (2.80).

The Cougs also boast the best opponent hitting percentage in the Pac-12, limiting opponents to a mere .139 to rank sixth in the country. UCLA has the 16th-best opponent hitting percentage at .152 as it also has help from its defensive corp, averaging 18.12 digs per set which is fifth in the nation.

On attack, the Conference has some heavy hitters to boast. Four teams rank in the top 20 in the country in kills per set, Oregon posting a 14.51 kills average which ranks seventh in the NCAA. UW’s 14.42 average is ninth, while the Bruins come in at 15th with 14.33 kpg and Utah is 20th tallying 14.19 kills.

The Ducks are also among the most efficient hitting teams in the nation, ranking fourth overall (.309).

Individually, the Conference is also home to six of the nation’s top blockers, led by Stanford’s Inky Ajanku, who is posting a 1.59 average to rank sixth. She is one of two Cardinal in the top 15 in the category, while WSU also boasts a pair of impressive blockers among the top 15.

Oregon State freshman Ronika Stone has the best hitting percentage in the Conference at .420, which also ranks 10th in the country. Utah’s Adora Anae has been a big offensive producer for her squad, posting a 4.76 kills per game average, while tallying 5.48 points per game to rank ninth and seventh, respectively.

• NCAA RPI … Four Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top 15 of the RPI as of Monday, six are in the top 25 and nine have a rating of 44 or better. Ten teams 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 just outside the top 50 in Pac-12 history (1,535). 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 (4,409). Snuka is the 28th player in Pac-12 history to go over the 4,000-assist mark and ranks 16th 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. The Cougs seem to have snapped that trend, tying for first heading into the fourth weekend of league play. WSU posted 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 Conference open-weekend 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 4-2 in matches vs. top-25 opponents this season. It was 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 UPSETS … 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, upending Colorado in Boulder in a five-set thriller to open league play. The Utes also took down Stanford in four sets for the program’s first-ever win over the Cardinal. Utah has defeated three ranked teams so far this season.

• UA’S TRAVELING BROOM … Unranked Arizona got in on the history-making action over the weekend. Of the five upsets last week, the Wildcats accounted for two after taking down the LA schools for a pair of top-25 road victories, the first time in the history of the program it had swept the LA teams on the road. The Wildcats are 2-2 this season vs. ranked opponents.

TROJANS FOR THE (1,000TH) WIN …  USC reached a historic milestone, recording the program’s 1,000th all-time win on Oct. 5, defeating Arizona State. The Trojans also helped head coach Mick Haley post his 400th victory at USC (403-99) earlier this season.

HODSON OUT FOR THE SEASON … Stanford’s Hayley Hodson has taken a medical leave of absence for the remainder of the season, the Cardinal announced on Oct. 5. Hodson was the AVCA and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and was also an AVCA All-American.

• 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
Washington State  5-1  15-3 
Oregon  5-1  12-2 
Washington  4-2  14-2 
Utah  4-2  13-4 
Stanford  4-2  10-4 
Arizona  4-2  12-6 
UCLA  3-3  12-4 
USC  3-3  11-6 
Colorado  2-4  10-6 
Oregon State  1-5  8-9 
California  1-5  7-9 
Arizona State  0-6  7-11 

UPCOMING SCHEDULE (All Times Pacific)

Wednesday, Oct. 12    
#20 UCLA at OREGON P12N 7 p.m. PT
Friday, Oct. 14    
#20 UCLA at OREGON STATE P12N 6 p.m. PT
ARIZONA STATE at CALIFORNIA P12N 6 p.m. PT
#21 UTAH at #7 WASHINGTON P12N 7 p.m. PT
COLORADO at #13 WASHINGTON STATE Live Stream 7 p.m. PT
USC at #16 OREGON P12N 8 p.m. PT
ARIZONA at #12 STANFORD P12N 8 p.m. PT
Saturday, Oct. 15    
ARIZONA STATE at #12 STANFORD Live Stream 7 p.m. PT
Sunday, Oct. 16    
USC at OREGON STATE P12N 12 p.m. PT
#21 UTAH at #13 WASHINGTON STATE P12N 12 p.m. PT
ARIZONA at CALIFORNIA P12N 12 p.m. PT
COLORADO at #7 WASHINGTON Live Stream 3 p.m. PT

2016 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive: Courtney Schwan, Jr., Washington
Defensive: Tawnee Laufalemana, Jr., Utah
Freshman: Shayne McPherson, Fr., Washington
 

ALSO NOMINATED:
Offensive
: Kalei Mau, ARIZ; Taylor Agost, ORE; Merete Lutz, STAN; Reily Buechler, UCLA; Niki Withers, USC; Adora Anae, UTAH.
Defensive: Penina Snuka, ARIZ; Lauren Page, ORE; Inky Ajanaku, STAN; Taylor Formico, UCLA; Shayne McPherson, WASH.  
Freshman: Jolie Rasmussen, ORE; Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN; Torrey Van Winden, UCLA; Khalia Lanier, USC; Bailey Choy, UTAH.

2016 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

  Offensive Defensive Freshman
Oct. 10 Courtney Schwan, WASH Tawnee Laufalemana,UTAH Shayne McPherson, WASH
Oct. 3 Taylor Mims, WSU Taylor Whittingham, USC Ronika Stone, ORE
Sep. 26 Kyra Holt, WSU Claire Martin, WSU Bailey Choy, UTAH
Sep. 19 Adora Anae, UTAH Megan Shughrou, UTAH Kathryn Plummer, STAN
Sep. 12 Crissy Jones, WASH Amanda Benson, ORE Kara Bajema, WASH
Sep. 5 Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN Naghede Abu, COLO Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN
Aug. 29 Jennie Frager, UCLA Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN

2016 NATIONAL WEEKLY HONORS

  Outlet Player
Sep. 28 ESPNW Kyra Holt, WSU
Sep. 6 AVCA Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING

  • 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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