First Half of Pac-12 Volleyball Season Wraps Up

• This week marks the halfway point of the season, with the first half of Conference play wrapping up, then closing out the week with the start of the second half of league play. Kicking off the week’s action are ARIZONA and OREGON STATE on the Pac-12 Networks’ Spike Night on Wednesday. Two of the nation’s top blocking teams go head-to-head this week, as well, with No. 2 STANFORD hosting No. 14 WASHINGTON on Thursday on ESPNU.

• The upsets continue to pile up, last week coming at the hands of Oregon State. The Beavers defeated No. 14 Washington for the first time since 2001 in five sets, then followed up with a win at WASHINGTON STATE to mark the first road sweep through the state of Washington since 1990. OSU’s results were after ARIZONA handed then-No. 15 USC its first league loss of the season, 3-0; WSU recorded its first win over a ranked opponent this season, defeating then-No. 25 COLORADO in four sets; and then-No. 17 UTAH needed a five-set thriller to hold off then-No. 9 UW for the Utes’ first-ever win in Seattle two weeks ago.

In the Rankings … Six teams continue to be ranked in the AVCA Coaches poll, the Cardinal leading the way at No. 2. Stanford has not dropped lower than fourth in the nation this season, occupying the No. 2 position for three of the last four weeks. It was ranked No. 1 in the country on Aug. 28. … Also in the poll this week is No. 12 UTAH, its highest ranking since Nov. 27, 2006. Following the Utes are No. 13 UCLA, No. 14 UW and No. 15 OREGON. USC comes in at No. 19 this week, and Colorado and Oregon State are receiving votes.

NCAA RPI … All 12 Pac-12 teams appear in the top 100 of the rating, including seven in the top 25. Stanford leads the way with a No. 7 RPI. For the full RPI, visit ncaa.com.

Top-25 Matchups … Another week of Pac-12 volleyball means another week of top-25 matchups to look forward to. No. 2 Stanford hosts No. 14 Washington on Thursday on ESPNU. The Cardinal look to preserve its 10-match win streak, as well as an undefeated league record. The Huskies rank third in the nation in blocks while Stanford is seventh. No. 13 UCLA travels to No. 12 Utah. The Bruins have won the last four meetings, but the Utes are riding a five-match win streak and its highest ranking in over a decade. The week’s action closes out with the No. 19 Trojans heading to visit the Utes on Sunday. Utah has only defeated USC twice since joining the Conference in 2011, including a 3-1 win in Los Angeles to close out the series last year.

Notables … After posting a pair of wins over the weekend at ARIZONA STATE and ARIZONA, the Buffs have already tied its overall win total from last season. Colorado went 14-16 on the season and go into this week with a 14-5 record. On the same note, Oregon State topped its win totals from last year, posting a 13-7 record this week, after going 12-19 last year.

Pac-12 Players of the Week … After Oregon State wins over Washington and Washington State, the Beavers swept the Pac-12 Conference’s weekly honors, Mary-Kate Marshall winning the offensive honor for the second time this season, Grace Massey taking home the defensive nod and Maddie Goings tabbed the freshman of the week.

• In the National Stats … Three of the top-seven blocking teams in the nation are in the Pac-12. The Huskies are third in the category (3.22), followed by WSU at No. 6 (3.10) and the Cardinal ranks seventh (3.06). Individually, Washington freshman Lauren Sanders leads the Conference with 1.58 blocks per set which is sixth in the country. WSU’s Jocelyn Urias is 11th with a 1.53 blocks average while Stanford’s Tami Alade is 18th (1.50).

• Three Pac-12 teams also appear in the top 25 in the nation in team hitting percentage and kills per set, the Cardinal leading the league and ranking 10th in the nation with a .300 hitting clip, while the Utes are seventh with a kps of 14.66.

• Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer is the fourth-highest points producer in the country, averaging a league-best 5.47 points per set. Her 4.69 kills per set are also ninth in the nation. CALIFORNIA’s Antzela Dempi is ninth in the nation in aces per set (0.52) while Stanford’s Jenna Gray’s 11.74 assists per set are good for eighth in the nation.

• Three of the top-four assist producers in the country are underclassmen with Gray leading the league. Freshmen Brynna Deluzio of Colorado (11.32) and Shelbie Dobmeier of ARIZONA STATE (10.73) are second and fourth, respectively. Though a senior, UCLA’s Sarah Sponcil is new to the league and ranks third in the Conference in assists per set (10.95). Another freshman is making her mark, especially after leading her team in a big upset last week. OSU’s Kylee McLaughlin is seventh in the Pac-12 with 10.53 aps.

Rivalry Showdowns … The home team went 3-3 in the rivalry matches to mark the start of the Pac-12 slate.

• 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 season. 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.

• 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
Stanford 8-0 15-2
Utah  7-1 16-3
USC 6-2 14-5
Washington 5-3 5-4
UCLA 5-3 15-4
Colorado 4-4 14-5
Oregon  4-4 11-5
Oregon State 3-5 13-7
Washington State 2-6 13-7
California  2-6 11-8
Arizona  2-6 8-9
Arizona State 0-8 10-10

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Wednesday, Oct. 18    
Arizona at Oregon State P12N 7 p.m. PT
Thursday, Oct. 19    
#14 Washington at #2 Stanford  ESPNU 8 p.m. PT
Friday Oct. 20    
#13 UCLA at #12 Utah  P12N 5 p.m. PT
Arizona State at Oregon State  P12O p.m. PT
#19 USC at Colorado  P12N p.m. PT
Washington State at California  P12N p.m. PT
Arizona at #15 Oregon  P12N p.m. PT
Saturday, Oct. 21    
#13 UCLA at Colorado  P12N p.m. PT
Arizona State at #15 Oregon    7 p.m. PT
Washington State at #2 Stanford    7 p.m. PT
Sunday, Oct. 22    
#19 USC at #12 Utah  P12M 12 p.m. PT
#14 Washington at California    1 p.m. PT

2017 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive: 
Mary-Kate Marshall, Oregon State  
Defensive: 
Grace Massey, Oregon State 
Freshman: Maddie Goings, Oregon State

ALSO NOMINATED
Offensive: Alexa Smith, COLO; Taylor Agost, ORE; Merete Lutz, STAN; Reily Buechler, UCLA; Niki Withers, USC; Carly Trueman, UTAH.
Defensive: Alexa Smith, COLO; Tami Alade, STAN; Savvy Simo, UCLA; Victoria Garrick, USC; Tawnee Luafalemana, UTAH; Alexis Dirige, WSU.
Freshman: Brynna Deluzio, COLO; Mac May, UCLA; Kenzie Koerber, UTAH; Meghan McClure, STAN.

  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
Sept. 11 Taylor Agost, ORE Berkeley Oblad, UTAH Mima Mirkovic, CAL
Sept. 28 Alexa Smith, COLO Halle Harker, ASU Brynna Deluzio, COLO
Sept. 25 Brittany Abercrombie, USC Victoria Garrick, USC  Mac May, UCLA 
Oct. 2 Brittany Abercrombie, USC Naghede Abu, COLO Brynna DeLuzio, COLO
Oct. 9  Adora Anae, UTAH  Berkeley Oblad, UTAH Lauren Sanders, WASH
Oct. 16  Mary-Kate Marshall, OSU Grace Massey, OSU Maddie Goings, OSU

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

NATIONAL HONORS
2017 Sports Imports/AVCA Division I Women Player of the Week: Oct. 10: Adora Anae, Utah
ESPNW Player of the Week: Oct. 10: Adora Anae, Utah


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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