Stanford represents Pac-12 in Final NCAA volleyball Tournament weekend

Sixth-seeded STANFORD advances to the program’s 20th all-time NCAA Tournament semifinal after upsetting third-seeded Wisconsin in the regional final. The Cardinal’s appearance in the national semifinal marks the 31st time in 36 years of the tournament at least one Pac-12 team has advanced that far.

The Cardinal takes on second-seeded Minnesota on Thursday, Dec. 15. The other side of the bracket includes top-seeded Nebraska and fourth-seeded Texas. The winners of the semifinal round move onto the national championship match on Saturday, Dec. 17. The semifinal matches will be televised on ESPN and the final will be televised on ESPN2.

The Cardinal is one of eight Pac-12 teams that earned NCAA Tournament berths this season. Stanford finished tied for second in the Conference, just one match behind league champion WASHINGTON. The eight bids marks the 17th-consecutive year the Pac-12 has had at least six tournament teams.

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 439-235 (.651) record in NCAA play. Toss out the 23 postseason matches between Conference teams and the league’s NCAA Tournament record against non-conference goes stands at 236-95 (.713) since 2001 and an overall mark of 372-173 (.683) … Over the last 15 years, Pac-12 teams are 103-26 in the first round, including posting a NCAA-record 10-0 in 2015 after a NCAA record 10 league teams earned bids last year.

AVCA REGION HONORS … A combined 18 Pac-12 players were named to the AVCA Pacific North and Pacific South Regional teams, including Stanford's Kathryn Plummer who was tabbed the Pacific North Region Freshman of the Year.

The Pacific North team includes 10 of the 14 All-Pac-12 players named. The Cardinal's Inky Ajanaku makes her fourth appearance on the all-region squad, while teammate Merete Lutz was named to the squad for the third time. OREGON STATE’s Mary-Kate Marshall makes her second appearance on the Pacific North Team.

Joining the trio on the All-Pacific North squad are Oregon's Amanda Benson and Lindsey Vander Weide, Washington State's Kyra Holt, Washington's Crissy Jones, Pac-12 Player of the Year Courtney Schwan and Bailey Tanner. Earning honorable mention status are the Ducks’ Taylor Agost and the Cardinal’s Audrianna Fitzmorris.

Eight Pac-12 players were named to the 14-member Pacific South squad, including Utah’s Adora Anae, UCLA’s Taylor Formico, Jennie Frager and Torrey Van Winden, USC’s Khalia Lanier and Elise Ruddins, and Arizona's Kalei Mau and Penina Snuka. A two-time Pac-12 Libero of the Year, Formico was named to the squad for the second time, as was Snuka. On the honorable mention list are Bruins’ Jordan Anderson and Reily Buechler, and Colorado’s Gabby Simpson.

• 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.

• 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. 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 State leading the way at No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, the Cardinal averaging 3.33 blocks per set and the Cougs at 3.23. Washington ranks 14th in the category with a 2.80 average.

Oregon put up impressive numbers this season and ranks eighth in the country in assists per set (13.58) to lead the Conference, but also ranking 13th in hitting percentage (.279) and 12th in kills per set (14.35).

UCLA is the league’s leader in digs per set (17.88), ranking sixth in the nation in the category. Its 13.63 assists per set are also good for sixth. 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, including Pac-12 leader Stanford’s Inky Ajanaku (1.50), while teammate Audriana Fitzmorris is 12th at 1.45. Washington State's Taylor Mims is eighth in the country in the category at 1.49 bps, and fellow Coug Claire Martin is 16th with 1.41 bps.

Utah’s Adora Anae is 10th in the country in kills per set (4.70) and 11th in points per set (5.22). USC’s Elise Ruddins is one of the most efficient hitters in the country, with a .426 hitting efficiency, which is fifth in the country. Ajanaku is also 13th with a .410 hitting percentage and UCLA's Taylor Formico and two-time Pac-12 Libero of the Year finishes her career with a 5.15 digs per set average, which ranks 20th in the nation..

NCAA ACTIVE LEADERS … The Conference’s active leader in kills, 2015 All-Pac-12 honoree Washington State’s Kyra Holt is third 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 (1,777). She ends her career ranked 27th in the Pac-12 record book. Stanford’s Inky Ajanaku wraps up her decorated career ranked among the best Pac-12 players, just out of the top 10 in the Conference in career block, which puts her in third among the active career leaders in the NCAA (610). Her .414 career hitting percentage also ranks her third among active NCAA leaders. 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 (5,178). 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 advanced to the NCAA regional semifinal in Lincoln, Neb., after an upset of ninth-seeded Michigan State. It was Arizona’s first trip to the regional tournament since 2005 while making a fourth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 28th all-time. The Wildcats boast a 30-28 postseason record (.517) … Arizona’s only national semifinal appearance was in 2001 … The Wildcats defeated Cleveland State in the first round before upending the Spartans in East Lansing before falling to Conference foe Washington.

Arizona swept the LA schools twice this season marking the first time the program has swept the series versus 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 were 8-9 this season vs. ranked opponents.

OREGON IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … Oregon made its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance in 11 years and owns an all-time postseason record of 15-14 (.517). The Ducks advanced to its only national title match appearance in 2012 … UO won its first-round match defeating Miami (Ohio), but fell to 12th-seeded and host Michigan in the second round.

The Ducks put together another strong campaign, winning 13 league matches which is the most since 2012. Their 21 overall wins are more than 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 113 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, defeating Denver in the first round then Boise State at home to advance to the regional semifinal for the 32nd time in program history … The Cardinal has never lost in the first round of the tournament … Stanford upset third-seeded Wisconsin in Madison to go to the program’s 20th all-time national semifinal, defeating Florida State in the regional semifinal.

The Cardinal takes on second-seeded Minnesota in the national semifinal. It has an all-time record of 14-5 in the second-to-last match of the 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 14 of 15 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 88 … 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 defeated Murray State and Baylor at home to advance to the NCAA Regional semifinal for the third-straight year and defeated seventh-seeded North Carolina in the third round in Minneapolis. The Bruins eventually lost to host and second-seeded Minnesota. It was the program’s 22nd all-time regional final appearance.

UCLA’s 15 league wins ties for the most since 2011, the year after the Bruins captured the NCAA title. The 27 wins are also the most since that season.

• USC IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … USC made its 34th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance, boasting an all-time record of 76-31 … The Trojans won the NCAA title in 1981, and then again in back-to-back years in 2002 and 2003 … USC was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament after falling to Hawai’i in a five-set thriller in Minneapolis.

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 TOURNAMENT … 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).

The Utes were back in the NCAA Tournament after missing out last season, earning its third bid in four years. Utah lost in the first round, 3-1, to UNLV.

• WASHINGTON IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … Washington was 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 made their 21st all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and boast an all-time record of 47-20 … The Huskies won the 2005 title and advanced to the national semifinal in 2013 for the fourth time in school history … UW hosted the first and second rounds, taking down Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Kentucky to advance to its fifth-straight NCAA Regional semifinal … UW defeated league-foe Arizona in the regional semifinal before falling to top-seeded Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb.

WASHINGTON STATE IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … The Cougars returned 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 10-11 (.476), recorded their first NCAA Tournament win since 2002 when they defeated Marquette in the first round. WSU’s postseason run ended with a loss to No. 3-seeded Wisconsin.

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 29-5
UCLA^ 15-5 27-7
Stanford^ 15-5 25-7
Oregon^ 13-7 21-10
Washington State^ 11-9 22-12
Utah^ 11-9 20-12
USC^ 10-10 18-14
Arizona^ 10-10 20-15
Colorado 6-14 14-16
Oregon State 5-15 12-19
Arizona State 5-15 12-20
California 3-17 9-21

* Pac-12 Champion; ^ NCAA Participant


NCAA FINAL FOUR (All Times Pacific)

Thursday, Dec. 15 • National Semifinals    
#6-seed STANFORD vs. #2-seed Minnesota  ESPN 4 p.m. PT
#1-seed Nebraska vs. #4-seed Texas ESPN 6:30 p.m. PT
Saturday, Dec. 17 • Final    
Championship Game ESPN2 6 p.m. PT

PAC-12 ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS

PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Courtney Schwan, Washington
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR - Kathryn Plummer, Stanford
SETTER OF THE YEAR - Penina Snuka, Arizona
LIBERO OF THE YEAR - Taylor Formico, UCLA
COACH OF THE YEAR - Jen Greeny, Washington State
SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR - Laura Larson, Arizona

The full release can be found here.


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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