Eight Pac-12 teams begin NCAA Tournament competition

WASHINGTON claimed the Pac-12 title for the second-straight year and the third time in four years. The Huskies headline eight Pac-12 teams that earned NCAA Tournament bids, which was announced on Sunday evening, tying for the most selections of any conference in the country. 

STANFORD, UW and UCLA earned top-16 seeds in the tournament, the Cardinal leading the way with a No. 6 seeding. The Huskies are the No. 8 overall seed and the Bruins are No. 10. Joining them in the postseason are ARIZONA, OREGON, USC, UTAH and WASHINGTON STATE. It marks the sixth-consecutive year with at least seven postseason teams for the Pac-12.

The No. 6-seeded Cardinal, No. 8-seeded Huskies and No. 10-seeded Bruins earned the right to host first- and second-round matches. A change in this year’s tournament format is no predetermined regional sites, making a top-16 seeding an even more important commodity should the teams advance.

First- and second-round matches will be played Dec. 1-3 at 16 campus sites. Teams winning both move on to regional play Dec. 9-10 at four non-predetermined campus sites, which will be announced after play concludes on Dec. 3. The national semifinals and championship final matches take place in Columbus, Ohio, at the Nationwide Arena, Dec. 15 and 17.

PAC-12 IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … The Pac-12 has captured 14 out of 35 NCAA titles awards, including 12 of the last 25. UCLA captured the Conference’s 14th title in 2011. Four different Pac-12 teams have claimed the NCAA crown, Stanford leading the way with six. The Pac-12 has earned at least six NCAA Tournament berths for 17-consecutive years … Pac-12 teams have compiled an impressive 427-228 (.651) record in NCAA play. Toss out the 22 postseason matches between Conference teams and the league’s NCAA Tournament record against non-conference goes stands at 223-89 (.715) since 2001 and an overall mark of 363-169 (.682) … Over the last 15 years, Pac-12 teams are 97-24 in the first round, including posting a NCAA-record 10-0 in 2015 after a NCAA record 10 league teams earned bids last year.

PAC-12 HONORS … In a vote of the 12 league coaches, Washington’s Courtney Schwan was selected the Pac-12 Player of the Year, Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer was voted Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Washington State’s Jen Greeny was voted Pac-12 Coach of the Year. UCLA’s Taylor Formico was voted the Pac-12 Libero of the Year for the second-straight year and Arizona’s Penina Snuka was tabbed the Pac-12 Setter of the Year.

The Conference office also announced the All-Pac-12 team which included four-time all-league pick Inky Ajanaku from Stanford. Three-time selections include Cardinal teammate Merete Lutz and the Wildcats’ Snuka. For the full list of All-Conference honorees and All-Freshman team members, click here.

• LARSON VOTED SAOY ... Arizona's Laura Larson was voted the Pac-12 Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year after boasting a 3.97 grade point average in cellular and molecular biology major. She was twice named first team to the Pac-12 All-Academic team. On the court, she leads the Wildcats and ranks seventh in the Conference with 3.86 digs per set. She is on page to leave Arizona the all-time leader in sets and matches played.

• THIS WEEK’S AVCA POLL … The final regular-season AVCA poll features three Pac-12 teams in the top 10 and six teams ranked in all. WASHINGTON leads the way at No. 7, followed by No. 8 UCLA and No. 9 STANFORD. OREGON is at No. 19, UTAH is No. 22 and Washington State in No. 25. USC and ARIZONA are also receiving votes.

The Pac-12 has had up to eight teams ranked this season, coming during the week of Sept. 26. Nine different Pac-12 teams have earned a national ranking at least once this season, as well.

NCAA RPI … Nine Pac-12 teams have RPI in the top 81, including eight in the top 50. Washington’s No. 6 RPI is the best in the Conference, followed by No. 11 Stanford and No. 12 UCLA.

NCAA STATS LEADERS … Three of the nation’s top-16 blocking teams in the country are in the Pac-12, with Stanford and Washington leading the way at No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, the Cardinal averaging 3.35 blocks per set and the Cougs at 3.30. Washington ranks 16th in the category with a 2.78 average.

Oregon is putting up impressive numbers, ranking ninth in the country in assists per set (13.55) to lead the Conference, but also ranking 15th in hitting percentage (.274) and 14th in kills per set (14.32).

UCLA is the league’s leader in digs per set (17.49), ranking 11th in the nation in the category. Its 13.43 assists per set are also good for 16th. Three Pac-12 teams boast kill averages in the top 25 in the country.

Individually, four of the top 17 blockers in the nation reside in the Pac-12, with Washington State’s Taylor Mims ranking seventh with a 1.52 average to lead the league. She is one of two Cougs to be in the top 12 with teammate Claire Martin checking in at 12th (1.45). A pair of Cardinal are also in the top 15 in the category, including Inky Ajanaku (8th, 1.51) and Audriana Fitzmorris (17th, 1.42).

Utah’s Adora Anae is 10th in the country in kills per set (4.68) and 11th in points per set (5.20). USC’s Elise Ruddins is one of the most efficient hitters in the country, with a .421 hitting efficiency, which is seventh in the country. Ajanaku is also 18th with a .395 hitting percentage.

NCAA ACTIVE LEADERS … The Conference’s active leader in kills, 2015 All-Pac-12 honoree Washington State’s Kyra Holt ranks the top five in the NCAA in career kills among active players and became the 31st player in Pac-12 history to go over the 1,700-kills threshold,(1,743). Arizona’s Penina Snuka also hit a significant milestone this season, going over the 5,000-assist mark, ranking second in total assists among the NCAA’s active leaders (5,086). Snuka is the just the 13th player in Pac-12 history to go over the 5,000-assist mark, ranking 12th all-time in the category.

WASHINGTON CLAIMS PAC-12 CROWN … Coming down to the final two matches of the season, Washington claimed the Pac-12 crown for the second-straight year, this time outright. It marks only the second time in league history the champion recorded four losses and only the fourth time the top team finished with at least three losses.

ARIZONA IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … The Wildcats earn their fourth-straight NCAA Tournament bid and 28th all-time, boasting a 28-27 postseason record (.509). Arizona’s only national semifinal appearance was in 2001 … UA failed to reach the second round last season, the first time in three years. It faces Cleveland State (25-5) in the first round in East Lansing, Mich. The winner faces the winner of the No. 9-seed Michigan State (248)-Fairfield (28-5) match in the second round.

Arizona swept the LA schools twice this season marking the first time the program has swept the series vs. both teams. Its first weekend sweep of UCLA and USC marked the first time UA had beaten both teams on the road in the history of the program. The Wildcats are 7-9 this season vs. ranked opponents.

OREGON IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … Oregon is in the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in 11 years, owning an all-time postseason record of 14-13 (.519). The Ducks advanced to its only national title match appearance in 2012 … UO faces Miami (Ohio) (24-6) in the first round in Ann Arbor, Mich., where it could face the winner of the No. 12-seed Michigan (22-10)-American (27-7) match in the second round.

The Ducks have put together another strong campaign with postseason implications, winning 13 league matches which is the most since 2012. Their 20 overall wins are more than all of last season, posting 20-win campaigns in eight of the last 10 seasons.

• STANFORD IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … The Cardinal has won a NCAA-record 109 tournament matches and is one of only two teams in the country to never miss out on the postseason event. Its six all-time NCAA titles is second-most in NCAA history … Stanford is the No. 6 seed overall and hosts Denver (21-7) in the first round, as well as the Western Kentucky (30-2) and Boise State (25-6) match. The Cardinal has never lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

After the announcement that Hayley Hodson was taking a medical leave of absence for the remainder of the season on Oct. 5, the Cardinal went 2-3 in its next matches, with upsets from Utah and Arizona at home. Since then, however, Stanford has won 10 of 11 matches. Hodson was the AVCA and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and was also an AVCA All-American.

UCLA IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … Making its 34th all-time appearance, only four teams have made more NCAA Tournament appearances than the Bruins and have the second-most all-time tournament victories among Pac-12 teams with 85. … The No. 10 seed overall, UCLA has four NCAA titles to its credit, the last coming in 2011 during head coach Michael Sealy’s first season …  The Bruins host Murray State (23-8) in the first round, as well as hosting the first-round match between San Diego (24-5) and Baylor (21-11).

UCLA’s 15 league wins ties for the most since 2011, the year the Bruins captured the NCAA title.

• USC IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … USC is making its 34th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance, boasting an all-time record of 76-30 … The Trojans won the NCAA title in 1981, and then again in back-to-back years in 2002 and 2003 … USC travels to Minneapolis to face Hawai’i (22-5) in the first round with the teams looking to face the winner of the North Dakota (26-9)-No. 2-seed Minnesota (25-4) in the second round.

USC won its 1,000th all-time match in a victory over Arizona State  on Oct. 5, making the Trojans the 17th program in NCAA Division I women's volleyball history to reach the milestone. Head coach Mick Haley has led USC to each of its 100-match milestones since the program's 600th win.

UTAH IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENTUtah returns to the NCAA Tournament after making back-to-back trips in 2013 and 2014, but missing out in 2015. The Utes are making their 13th all-time appearance and own a .500 record in the postseason event (12-12) ... Utah takes on UNLV (23-7) to open NCAA Tournament action in Provo, Utah. The winner will face the winner of the No. 13 BYU (27-3)-Princeton (19-4) match. The Utes defeated BYU earlier this season in Provo. 

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 6-5 so far this season against top-25 teams.

The Utes’ 11 league victories are the most for the program since joining the Pac-12 and the most conference victories since winning 11 in 2010 in the Mountain West. Utah has also doubled its overall win total from last year (10).

• WASHINGTON IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … Washington is the No. 8 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament after winning its second-straight Pac-12 title. The Huskies have won the league crown in each of head coach’s Keegan Cook’s two seasons at the helm and in three of the last four years.

The Huskies are making their 21st all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and boast an all-time record of 44-19 … The Huskies won the 2005 title and advanced to the national semifinal in 2013 for the fourth time in school history … UW hosts Texas A&M Corpus Christi (24-7) in the first round. The winner moves on to face the winner of the Kentucky (22-7)-Colorado State (21-8) matchup.

WASHINGTON STATE IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … The Cougars return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 and the 11th time in school history … The Cougs, who have an all-time tournament record of 9-10 (.474), are looking for their first NCAA Tournament win since 2002 … WSU travels to Madison, Wis., to face Marquette (23-8) in the first round. The winner of that match will face the winner of the No. 3-seed Wisconsin (25-4)-Howard (26-5) tilt in the second round.

The Cougs opened 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 in the series. It went on to sweep the Arizona schools in both home-and-home series, making it the first time the Cougs have claimed all four matches since 1991.

WSU 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. The Cougs’ 21 overall wins and 11 league wins are the most since winning 24 and 11, respectively, in 2002.

PRESEASON COACHES POLL … 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.

WHAT’S BACK … 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 16-4 26-4
UCLA 15-5 24-6
Stanford 15-5 21-7
Oregon 13-7 20-9
Washington State 11-9 21-11
Utah 11-9 20-11
USC 10-10 18-13
Arizona 10-10 18-14
Colorado 6-14 14-16
Oregon State 5-15 12-19
Arizona State 5-15 12-20
California 3-17 9-21

NCAA FIRST ROUND SCHEDULE (All Times Pacific)

Thursday, Dec. 1    
OREGON vs. Miami (Ohio)   2:30 p.m. PT 
WASHINGTON STATE vs. Marquette   3 p.m. PT
Friday, Dec. 2    
USC vs. Hawai'i   2:30 p.m. PT
ARIZONA vs. Cleveland State   4 p.m. PT
UTAH vs. UNLV   6 p.m. PT
Denver at #6 STANFORD Live Stream 7 p.m. PT
#8 WASHINGTON vs. Texas A&M CC   7:30 p.m. PT
Murray State at #10 UCLA    8 p.m. PT

NCAA SECOND ROUND SCHEDULE (All Times Pacific)

Friday, Dec. 2    
OREGON/Miami (Ohio) vs. Michigan/American   4:30 p.m. PT
Wisconsin/Howard vs. WASHINGTON ST./Marquette   5 p.m. PT
Saturday, Dec. 3    
Boise St./W. Kentucky vs. #6 STANFORD/Denver Live Stream 7 p.m. PT
#10 UCLA/Murray ST. vs. Baylor/SDSU   7 p.m. PT
UTAH/UNLV vs. # 13 BYU/ Princeton   8 p.m. PT
USC/Hawai'i vs. N. Dakota/#2 Minnesota   TBD
# 9 Michigan St./Fairfield vs. ARIZONA/ Cleveland St.   TBD
Kentucky/Colorado St. vs. # 8 WASHINGTON/ Texas A&M CC    TBD

2016 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive: Courtney Schwan, Jr., Washington
Defensive: Crissy Jones, Jr., Washington
Freshman: Avie Niece, Fr., Washington

ALSO NOMINATED:
Offensive
: Ronika Stone, ORE; Kathryn Plummer, STAN; Reily Buechler, UCLA.
Defensive: Naghede Abu, COLO; Lauren Page, ORE; Inky Ajanaku, STAN; Taylor Formico, UCLA; Alexis Dirige, WSU.
Freshman: Ronika Stone, ORE; Morgan hentz, STAN; Kylia Miller, UCLA; Alexis Dirige, WSU.

2016 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

  Offensive Defensive Freshman
Nov. 28 Courtney Schwan, WASH Crissy Jones, WASH Avie Niece, WASH
Nov. 21 Kathryn Plummer, STAN Taylor Formico, UCLA Kathryn Plummer, STAN
Nov. 14 Tia Scambray, WASH Taylor Mims, WSU Torrey Van Winden, UCLA
Nov. 7 Lindsey Vander Weide, ORE Penina Snuka, ARIZ Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN
Oct. 31 Inky Ajanaku, STAN Taylor Formico, UCLA Kathryn Plummer, STAN
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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