Upsets trending in Pac-12 volleyball while Stanford holds top spot

• It has been an unpredictable season so far as upsets become the norm. Last week alone, four ranked teams were knocked off. Yet, second-ranked STANFORD remains unbeaten in league play, mounting a four-match lead heading into this week. Kicking off this week are a pair of squads that have logged a few upsets so far this season. WASHINGTON STATE travels to COLORADO on Wednesday for the Pac-12 Network’s Spike Night to kick off the week’s action. Both teams knocked off ranked teams last week.

While just two matches feature a pair of ranked teams clashing - No. 11 WASHINGTON at No. 15 UTAH on Saturday and No. 16 OREGON at No. 2 STANFORD - there is still a lot at stake with each match. The second-through-seventh teams in the Pac-12 standings are separated by just two matches. Not only does the race for the league crown heat up but NCAA Tournament bids and seedings are also at stake.

In the Rankings … Six Pac-12 teams are in the AVCA Coaches poll again this week, all appearing in the top 18. STANFORD is holding steady at No. 2 also receiving eight first-place votes. The Cardinal has not dropped lower than fourth this season and has occupied the No. 2 position five of the last six weeks. It was ranked the top-ranked team in the country on Aug. 29.

The remaining five teams can be found at No. 11-18, WASHINGTON jumping three places to No. 11. At No. 15, No. 16, No. 17 and No. 18 are OREGON, USC, UCLA and UCLA, respectively. COLORADO and OREGON STATE are receiving votes again.

NCAA RPI … Pac-12 teams are posting impressive RPI this week, with seven appearing in the top 25 (Stanford with the lowest rating at No. 7); eight are in the top 30; nine are in the top 45; and 11 of the 12 are in the top 100. For the full RPI, visit ncaa.com.

Upsets mount … When talking about upset wins, Colorado has to be in the conversation. The Buffs have knocked off four ranked opponents, three of them in league play. Most recently, Colorado took a five-set decision in Eugene. WASHINGTON STATE also found itself on the winning side of a five-set battle, upsetting then-No. 13 UCLA at home. The last time WSU defeated UCLA in Pullman was in 2002 when current head coach Jen Greeny was an assistant.

A Long Time Coming … Oregon State has snapped a few significant streaks, each dating back to over a decade. In its road sweep last week, OSU posted its first sweep through the state of Washington since 1990. It was also the first win over the Huskies since 2001, which was also the last time the Beavs had won in Seattle. Most recently, Oregon State defeated both Arizona schools at home, the first time it had done that since 1996. Its five-match win streak from Oct. 13-27, is its longest win streak in league play since 1990. OSU has surpassed its Conference win total from last year (five wins) and its 16 overall wins, to date, is the most since 2014 (21) and bests its record from four of the last five years.

Notables … California has more overall wins and league wins to-date than each of the last three seasons. With 13 overall wins, the Bears reached double-digit wins for the first time since 2014 … Colorado has also surpassed its overall win total from last year (15) … Oregon State has more wins than last year (12) and more than in four of the last five seasons. It has also surpassed its total league wins from each of the last two seasons … Stanford picked up its 10th Pac-12 win of the season, marking the 32nd season the Cardinal has won double-digit league matches.

Pac-12 Players of the Week … Leading the Cardinal to a 12-0 league record, Kathryn Plummer was voted the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. WASHINGTON’s Tia Scambray was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, while COLORADO’s Brynna Deluzio is the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the third time this season.

• In the National Stats … The Pac-12 is the top blocking team in the nation, collectively averaging 2.46 blocks per set due, in part, to three of the top-10 blocking teams in the nation residing in Pac-12. The Huskies are third in the category (3.19), followed by WSU at No. 7 (3.05) and the Cardinal ranks 10th (2.97). Individually, Washington freshman Lauren Sanders leads the Conference with 1.56 blocks per set which is eighth in the country. WSU’s Jocelyn Urias is 13th with a 1.48 blocks average while Stanford teammates Tami Alade (1.42) and Audriana Fitzmorris (1.40) are 21st and 25th, respectively.

Three Pac-12 teams also appear in the top 25 in the nation in team kills per set, the Utes leading the way with a 14.53 kills average.

• Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer and Oregon State’s Mary-Kate Marshall are two of the nation’s highest point producers. Plummer is sixth averaging league-best 5.38 points per set, while also ranking 10th in kills per set (4.66), both tops in the Pac-12. Marshall’s 5.33 points per set are eighth in the country while her kills average of 4.61 is 12th. ARIZONA STATE’s Oluoma Okaro ranks 15th in points per set (4.48). CALIFORNIA’s Antzela Dempi is 15th in the nation in aces per set (0.47) while Stanford’s Jenna Gray’s 11.62 assists per set are good for ninth in the nation. Stanford teammate Tami Alade’s .429 hitting percentage is ninth-best in the nation.

• Six of the Pac-12’s top-10 assist producers are underclassmen, with Stanford sophomore Gray leading the way with an 11.62 average, followed by Colorado’s Brynna Deluzio ranking second behind her at 11.24. Though a senior, Also a freshman, OSU’s Kylee McLaughlin has the third-best assists average in the league at 10.96.

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 12-0 19-2
Washington  8-4 18-5
Utah  8-4 17-6
USC 8-4 16-7
Colorado  7-5 17-6
Oregon  7-5 14-6
Oregon State 6-6 16-8
UCLA  6-6 13-8
California  4-8 13-10
Washington State 3-9 14-10
Arizona  3-9 9-12
Arizona State 0-12 10-14

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Wednesday, Nov. 1    
Washington State at Colorado P12N 6 p.m. PT
Thursday, Nov. 2    
Washington State at #15 Utah    6 p.m. PT
Friday, Nov. 3    
#11 Washington at Colorado  P12N p.m. PT
Arizona at #18 UCLA    p.m. PT
Arizona State at #17 USC   p.m. PT
Oregon State at #2 Stanford    7 p.m. PT
#16 Oregon at California    7 p.m. PT
Saturday, Nov. 4    
#11 Washington at #15 Utah    6 p.m. PT
Arizona State at #18 UCLA   p.m. PT
Sunday, Nov. 5    
Arizona at #17 USC P12N 11 a.m. PT
#16 Oregon at #2 Stanford  P12N 1 p.m. PT
Oregon State at California    1 p.m. PT

2017 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive: Kathryn Plummer, Stanford  
Defensive: Tia Scambray, Washington 
Freshman: Brynna DeLuzio, Colorado 

ALSO NOMINATED
Offensive: 
Oluoma Okaro, ASU; Naghede Abu, COLO; Jolie Rasmussen, ORE; Mary-Kate Marshall, OSU; Brittany Abercrombie, USC; Carly DeHoog, WASH.
Defensive:Halle Harker, ASU; Gabby Carta-Samuels, COLO; Ronika Stone, ORE; Grace Massey, OSU; Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN; Jenna Adams, USC; Alexis Dirige, WSU.
Freshman: Kylee McLaughlin, OSU; Brooke Botkin, USC; Lauren Sanders, WASH. 

Date 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
Oct. 23 Mary-Kate Marshall, OSU Morgan Hentz, STAN Kylee McLaughlin, OSU 
Oct. 30  Kathryn Plummer, STAN Tia Scambray, WASH Brynna DeLuzio, COLO

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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