Pac-12 volleyball teams look to make moves in the standings

With the top eight teams separated by just three matches, and the rest of the field not that far behind, each contest becomes even more significant. The week starts off with a clash in the Bay Area between No. 7 WASHINGTON and No. 17 STANFORD on Wednesday’s Spike Night on Pac-12 Network. Both those teams have claimed the Conference crown, either outright or shared, in 11 of the last 12 seasons. The Huskies currently lead the standings, while the Cardinal is in a three-way tie for fifth.

No. 18 WASHINGTON STATE travels to visit the Cardinal on Friday. The Cougs snapped a three-match skid last week, posting back-to-back wins. WSU is tied for second in the standings this week with No. 12 UCLA and No. 20 OREGON. The Bruins are just a match ahead of their Saturday opponent No. 21 UTAH. But first, the Utes will try to break out of the tie when it faces No. 24 USC on Thursday. The Trojans are also in a log jam, in three-way tie for fifth.

• THIS WEEK’S AVCA POLL … The Pac-12 has seven teams ranked in the AVCA Coaches poll again, WASHINGTON continuing to lead the way at No. 7. The Conference has had up to eight teams ranked this season which came during the week of Sept. 29.

Four additional teams appear in the top 20, UCLA checking in at No. 12. STANFORD and WASHINGTON STATE stand at No. 17 and No. 18, respectively. At No. 20 this week is OREGON, with UTAH earning a No. 21 ranking and USC is tied for No. 24.

Arizona and Colorado, who have both posted significant victories this season, are also receiving votes.

NCAA STATS LEADERS … Stanford (3.43), Washington State (3.41) and Washington (2.97) are No. 1, No. 2 and No. 6 in the nation in blocks average.

Three league teams are also among the top 25 in assists per set, Oregon boasting the fifth-best average in the nation at 13.61. UCLA is eighth with a 13.57 average and Utah’s 13.24 average is 25th in the country.

Its high assist averages has helped the Ducks and Bruins post to of the highest kills averages in the nation, with UO putting down 14.48 kps for sixth best and UCLA with a seventh-best average of 14.46 kps. The Huskies also boast 14.36 kills per set for 10th.

UW and UO are particularly efficient in their hitting, as well, Oregon ranking 11th with a .281 hitting percentage and Washington at 16th with a .274 percentage.

Armed with the Pac-12 Libero of the Year from last year, UCLA has, by far, the best digs average in the league, ranking fifth in the country (18.05).

Individually, five of the nation’s top 25 blockers reside in the Pac-12, Stanford’s Inky Ajanaku pacing the league with a 1.60 average for fourth in the country. Teammate Audrianna Fitzmorris is 14th with 1.46 blocks per set. WSU has a pair of Cougs in the top 10 in blocks, Claire Martin ranking fifth (1.56) and Taylor Mims ranking seventh (1.53). Washington’s Kara Bajema is 24th in the country with a 1.37 blocks average.

Utah’s Adora Anae can be found in the top 10 in the country in two statistical categories, including 10th with 4.58 kills per set and ninth with 5.20 points per set.

• NCAA RPI  … Pac-12 teams continue to record impressive RPI, with seven squads posting a rating of No. 30 or better. Another two have RPI at No. 40 or better, and nine teams are in the top 100.

NCAA 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, putting her just inside the top 50 in Pac-12 history (1,596) at No. 43. 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 (4,617). Snuka is the 28th player in Pac-12 history to go over the 4,000-assist mark and ranks 14th 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 been able to take some of that momentum into Conference play, opening league competition with 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 opening-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 4-3 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 the Pac-12 slate for the first time in school history, upending Colorado in Boulder in a five-set thriller. The Utes also took down Stanford in four sets for the program’s first=ever win over the Cardinal. Utah is 4-4 so far this season against top-25 teams.

UA’S TRAVELING BROOM … Unranked Arizona got in on the history-making action over the weekend. Of the five upsets over the weekend 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 2-4 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 (406-100) 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 8-2 18-2
UCLA 7-3 16-4
Washington State 7-3 17-5
Oregon 7-3 14-5
Utah 6-4 15-6
USC 6-4 14-7
Stanford 6-4 12-6
Arizona 5-5 13-9
Colorado 4-6 12-8
California 2-8 8-12
Oregon State 1-9 8-13
Arizona State 1-9 8-14

UPCOMING SCHEDULE (All Times Pacific)

Wednesday, Oct. 26    
#7 WASHINGTON at #17 STANFORD P12N 7 p.m. PT
Friday, Oct. 28    
#18 WASHINGTON STATE at #17 STANFORD P12N 6 p.m. PT
COLORADO at #12 UCLA P12N 6 p.m. PT
ARIZONA at #20 OREGON Live Stream 7 p.m. PT
ARIZONA STATE at OREGON STATE Live Stream 7 p.m. PT
#21 UTAH at t-#24 USC P12N 8 p.m. PT
#7 WASHINGTON at CALIFORNIA P12N 8 p.m. PT
Saturday Oct. 29    
COLORADO at t-#24USC Live Stream 5 p.m. PT
#18 WASHINGTON STATE at CALIFORNIA Live Stream 7 p.m. PT
#21 UTAH at #12 UCLA P12N 8 p.m. PT
Sunday Oct. 30    
ARIZONA STATE at #20 OREGON Live Stream 11 a.m. PT
ARIZONA at OREGON STATE Live Stream 12 p.m. PT

2016 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive: Lindsey Vander Weide, So., Oregon
Defensive: Lauren Page, So., Oregon
Freshman: Torrey Van Winden, Fr., UCLA
 

ALSO NOMINATED:
Offensive
: Alexa Smith, COLO; Kathryn Plummer, STAN; Torrey Van Winden, UCLA; Alysa Ford, USC; Adora Anae, UTAH; Bailey Tanner, WASH; Kyra Holt, WSU.
Defensive: Alexa Smith, COLO; Morgan Hentz, STAN; Taylor Formico, UCLA; Taylor Whittingham, USC; Brianna Doehrmann, UTAH; Crissy Janes, WASH; Taylor Mims, WSU. 
Freshman: Ronika Stone, ORE; Morgan Hentz, STAN; Khalia Lanier, USC; Bailey Choy, UTAH; Kara Bajema, WASH.

2016 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

  Offensive Defensive Freshman
Oct. 24 Lindsey Vander Weide, ORE Lauren Page, ORE Torrey Van Winden, UCLA
Oct. 17 Torrey Van Winden, UCLA Taylor Formico, UCLA Khalia Lanier, USC
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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