Pac-12/Big Ten Volleyball Challenge Highlights This Week’s Matches

• The annual Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge highlights the non-conference weekend. The Challenge pits two of the nation’s top teams, including No. 4 STANFORD and No. 3 Penn State in a top-five rematch from last week. COLORADO also takes part in the Challenge that is hosted by Illinois.

• The Cardinal are looking to avenge a loss to the Nittany Lions from last week in College Station, Texas, when Stanford was making its season debut as the No. 1 team in the country. The programs are two of the most storied in history, having won seven NCAA titles each, tying for the most in NCAA history. They are also the only two programs to never miss a NCAA Tournament.

https://us.vocuspr.com/Publish/2525990/vcsPRAsset_2525990_146286_0ba64b09-91c4-41c6-8bed-37fef4e0c4f5_0.png• Though not part of the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge but pitting teams from the powerhouse leagues are No. 11 UCLA and No. 12 Nebraska, which have scheduled back-to-back matches this week in Lincoln, Neb., starting on Friday and wrapping up the series on Saturday. Friday's match is slated for broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

• On Thursday night, No. 14 OREGON opens its Nike Classic on Pac-12 Oregon vs. Cal Poly.

• Six Pac-12 teams are ranked in the AVCA poll for the third-consecutive week. After suffering its first loss of the season, STANFORD slips to No. 4, while WASHINGTON (No. 8), UCLA (No. 11) and OREGON (No. 14) stayed put this week. UTAH breaks the top 20, moving up four spots to No. 18 and USC fell one place to No. 19. WASHINGTON STATE is receiving votes.

• The Utes make their home debut with a top-20 clash against No. 15 San Diego on Friday and ARIZONA takes a long trip East to try to knock off No. 20 Florida State on Saturday.

• Three Pac-12 teams remain undefeated going into the weekend with the Buffs and OREGON STATE posting a league-high six wins each. The Beavs are 6-0 for the first time since 2014. The Bruins are unbeaten at 5-0.

• Three of the top-four assist producers in the league, to-date, are freshmen. ARIZONA STATE’s Shelbie Dobmeier leads the Conference with an average of 12.06 apg. Colorado’s Brynna Deluzio and OSU’s Kylee McLaughlin are third and fourth in the stats rankings, respectively, with averages of 11.70 apg and 11.20 apg.

• Pac-12 teams have routinely posted successful starts to the season and the start to the 2017 campaign is no different. League teams went 28-5 (.875) to open the campaign. Team have posted a 360-86 cumulative record for the opening weekend since 2002, for an impressive 80.7 winning percentage. Significant wins included the Ducks defeating then-No. 5 Nebraska, followed by a near-victory over then-No. 1 Texas; The Bruins defeated then-No. 20 Hawai’i, causing the Wahine to fall out of the top 25 this week.

• Washington was picked to win the Pac-12 regular-season crown, as decided on by a vote of the league’s coaches. The Huskies edged out the Cardinal for the top spot in the poll. UW received eight first-place votes and 118 points, while Stanford had three first-place votes and 113 points. The Ducks were picked third (93 points) and Utah placed fourth (88 points), also receiving the final remaining first-place vote. The Huskies have won back-to-back regular-season crowns and three of the last four.

• Seven AVCA All-Americans return from last year, including Pac-12 Player of the Year Courtney Schwan and AVCA National Freshman of the Year Kathryn Plummer. UW has three 2016 All-Americans on its current roster, while Stanford has two. Senior Adora Anae is also back for the Utes this year, as is Ducks junior Lindsey Vander Weide.

• Eight of the 14 players named to the 2016 All-Pac-12 team return for 2017, including UW’s Schwan, who was tabbed the 2016 Pac-12 Player of the Year. Stanford’s Plummer was voted the 2016 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and looks to build upon an impressive rookie campaign.

• The Pac-12 welcomes four new coaches to the Conference this season. Sanja Tomasevic takes over the helm at ARIZONA STATE; Matt Ulmer roams the sidelines as head coach in Eugene; Matt McShane was promoted to head coach at CALIFORNIA; while Kevin Hambly takes over a Stanford program that is defending its national crown. Half the Pac-12 teams have put new coaches in place over the last two years, three due to retirement of long-time head coaches. Seven in total have coaches that have been at the helm for three years or less in the Pac-12.

• Pac-12 volleyball continues to attract marquee student-athletes. Eight Pac-12 teams landed at least one Volleyball Magazine FAB 50 recruit with UCLA pacing the league with four.


CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded standings)

Teams Pac-12 Record Overall Record
Colorado 0-0 6-0
Oregon State 0-0 6-0
UCLA 0-0 5-0
California  0-0 5-1
Utah  0-0 5-1
Washington  0-0 5-1
Washington State 0-0 5-1
Oregon  0-0 4-1
Stanford  0-0 4-1
Arizona  0-0 4-2
USC 0-0 4-2
Arizona State  0-0 3-2

UPCOMING SCHEDULE (All Times Pacific)

Thursday, Sept. 7     
Cal Poly at #14 OREGON (1) P12O 6 p.m. PT
Friday, Sept. 8    
WASHINGTON STATE vs. New Hampshire (2)   9 a.m. PT
Missouri State at #8 WASHINGTON (3)   10 a.m. PT
ARIZONA STATE vs. CS Bakersfield (4)   10 a.m. PT
CALIFORNIA vs. Incarnate Word (5)   10:30 a.m. PT
#19 USC vs. Arkansas (6)   12:30 p.m. PT
COLORADO vs. #3 Penn State (7)   2:30 p.m. PT
ARIZONA at Florida A&M   p.m. PT
WASHINGTON STATE at Fairfield (2)   p.m. PT
OREGON STATE at North Texas (8)   4:30 p.m. PT
#4 STANFORD at Illinois (7)   p.m. PT
CALIFORNIA at Rice (5)   p.m. PT
#11 UCLA at #12 Nebraska Big Ten Network p.m. PT
#15 San Diego at #18 UTAH (9)   p.m. PT
ARIZONA STATE at Northern Arizona (4)   TBD
#19 USC at UC Santa Barbara (6)   p.m. PT
#8 WASHINGTON at Pepperdine (3)   p.m. PT
Wichita State at #11 OREGON (1) Live Stream  p.m. PT
Saturday, Sept. 9     
Green Bay at #18 UTAH (9)   11 a.m. PT 
Campbell at OREGON STATE (8)   11 a.m. PT 
ARIZONA STATE at Utah State (4)   11 a.m. PT 
COLORADO at Illinois (7)   12:30 p.m. PT
ARIZONA at #20 Florida State    1:30 p.m. PT
#8 WASHINGTON vs. Pepperdine (3)   p.m. PT
#4 STANFORD vs. #3 Penn State (7)   2:30 p.m. PT
OREGON STATE vs. New Orleans (8)   p.m. PT
#19 USC vs. Yale (6)   p.m. PT
WASHINGTON STATE at Fairfield (2)   p.m. PT
#11 UCLA at #12 Nebraska  BTN2Go p.m. PT
Missouri at #19 UTAH (9)   p.m. PT
Duquesne at #11 OREGON (1) Live Stream  p.m. PT

1 - Nike Classic, Eugene, Ore.; 2 - Fairfield Tournament, Fairfield, Conn.; 3 - Pepperdine Asics Classic, Malibu, Calif.; 4 - NAU Tournament, Flagstaff, Ariz.; 5 - Rice Tournament, Houston, Texas; 6 - UCSB Thunderdome Classic, Santa Barbara, Calif.; 7 - Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge, Champaign, Ill.; 8 - North Texas Challenge, Denton, Texas; 9 - Utah Classic, Salt Lake City, Utah.


2017 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive: Mary-Kate Marshall, Oregon State
Defensive: Tawnee Luafalemana, Utah
Freshman: Dani Barton, Utah

ALSO NOMINATED:
Offensive
Kathryn Plummer, STAN; Brittany Abercrombie, USC; Adora Anae, UTAH; Carly DeHoog, WASH; Antzela Dempi, CAL; Ella Lajos, WSU; Mac May, UCLA; Oluoma Okaro, ASU; Alexa Smith, COLO; Ronika Stone, ORE.

Defensive: Jocelyn Urias, WSU; Naghede Abu, COLO; Devyn Cross, ARIZ; Victoria Garrick, USC; Sumeet Gill, ORE; Halle Harker, ASU; Morgan Hentz, STAN; Kylee McLaughlin, OSU; Zana Muno, UCLA; Caihla Petiprin, CAL; Lauren Sanders, WASH.

Freshman: Mac May, UCLA; Haylie Bennett, OSU; Brynna DeLuzio, COLO; Griere Hughes, ASU; Meghan McClure, STAN; Mima Mirkovic, CAL; Lauren Sanders, WASH; Paige Whipple, ARIZ.

  Offensive Defensive Freshman
Aug. 28 Khalia Lanier, USC Zana Muno, UCLA Mac May, UCLA
Sept. 4  Mary-Kate Marshall, OSU Tawnee Luafalemana, UTAH Dani Barton, UTAH

IN THE PRESEASON

Pac-12 Coaches Pick Washington to Win in 2017, Preseason All-Pac-12 Announced
Six Teams Ranked in Preseason AVCA Poll


HISTORICALLY SPEAKING

•    The Pac-12 has captured seven of the last 16 NCAA crowns (2016 - Stanford, 2011 - UCLA, 2005 - Washington, 2004 - Stanford, 2003 - USC, 2002 - USC, 2001 - Stanford) and a record 15 NCAA titles overall.
•    Pac-12 coaches have led NCAA Division I teams to 39 NCAA semifinal appearances and eight NCAA titles. In the last 15 years, seven different coaches have been named the ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Coach of the Year and/or the AVCA Coach of the Year.
•    The Pac-12 has had 10 or more All-Americans selections in eight of the last 11 years. Ten former Pac-12 players have earned All-America honors four times, while 20 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 seven - 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 (2015). The NCAA Honda Sports Award honor has been bestowed upon a Pac-12 volleyball player 14 times, including Stanford’s Inky Ajanaku in 2016.

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