Pac-12 Volleyball Crown on the line this week

• Second-ranked STANFORD is undefeated in league play and could lock up the Pac-12 title this week. With a 14-0 Conference record, the Cardinal need just two matches to clinch at least a tie for the league crown. Stanford kicks off the action this week traveling to No. 13 WASHINGTON for Spike Night on Wednesday on Pac-12 Network. It then travels to face WASHINGTON STATE on Saturday for, potentially, first try at the title, while the Cougars look to strengthen their case for a postseason bid.

In the Rankings … For the third time this season, the Pac-12 has seven teams ranked in the AVCA Coaches poll, following seven ranked teams on Sept. 19 and Oct. 2. Stanford continues to lead the way at No. 2, followed by No. 13 Washington. UTAH, OREGON, USC and UCLA are Nos. 15, 16, 17 and 18, respectively. COLORADO is back in the poll after another upset over the weekend, coming in at No. 25. OREGON STATE is receiving votes.

NCAA RPI … Four Pac-12 teams appear in the top 11 of the NCAA’s RPI and eight are in the top 28. Additionally, nine are in the top 42, and 11 of the 12 teams are in the top 100. For the full RPI, visit ncaa.com.

NCAA Tournament Selections … The NCAA announces the 64-team volleyball national championship on Sunday, Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT on ESPNU.

Top-25 Matchups … In addition to the Cardinal and Huskies facing off on Spike Night, other clashes between ranked teams include No. 15 Utah traveling to No. 17 USC, and No. 25 Colorado taking on No. 18 UCLA on Thursday. The follow up matches pit the Utes at the Bruins on Friday, and the Buffs going up against the Trojans on Saturday.

Conference Champions History … Stanford is looking to claim its 17th Pac-12 crown, by far the most of any team in the Conference. Washington is the back-to-back defending champion. Six league teams can claim at least one Pac-12 title all-time. Stanford’s last title win was in 2014. The last time a team went undefeated to claim the Conference crown was when USC went 18-0 in 2003, marking the eighth time a team has gone through the league slate unblemished.

Upsets Mount … Colorado is becoming synonymous with “upset” this season, going 5-5 in matches vs. ranked opponents. The then-unranked Buffs knocked off then-No. 11 Washington over the weekend in straight sets. Two weeks ago, WSU found itself on the winning side of a five-set battle, upsetting then-No. 13 UCLA at home on Oct. 27. 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 14 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 its 17 wins are the most since 2002 with the exception of winning 21 in 2014. 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. The Cardinal has also won at least 13 league wins every year since the Pac-12/10 became sponsoring women’s athletics (dating back to 1986).

Pac-12 Players of the Week … Leading the Cardinal to a 14-0 league record, Merete Lutz was voted the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. UCLA’s Madeleine Gates was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, while COLORADO’s Brynna Deluzio is the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the second-straight week and the fourth time this season.

• In the National Stats … The Pac-12 is the top blocking conference in the nation, collectively averaging 2.43 blocks per set due, in part, to three of the top-15 blocking teams in the nation residing in Pac-12. The Huskies are fourth in the category (3.13), followed by WSU at No. 8 (2.99) and the Cardinal ranks 13th (2.92). Individually, Washington freshman Lauren Sanders leads the Conference with 1.51 blocks per set which is ninth in the country. WSU’s Jocelyn Urias is 14th with a 1.48 blocks average while Stanford’s Audriana Fitzmorris (1.43) is listed at 20th. UW’s Marion Hazelwood is at 25th with an 1.39 average.

• 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 14.61 kills average to rank seventh.

• Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer and Oregon State’s Mary-Kate Marshall are two of the nation’s highest point producers. Marshall is seventh averaging league-best 5.33 points per set, while also ranking 11th in kills per set (4.60). Plummer’s 5.33 points per set are eighth in the country while her kills average of 4.57 is 13th. ARIZONA STATE’s Oluoma Okaro ranks 18th in points per set (4.98). CALIFORNIA’s Antzela Dempi is 12th in the nation in aces per set (0.48) while Stanford’s Jenna Gray’s 11.91 assists per set are good for sixth in the nation. Stanford teammate Tami Alade’s .451 hitting percentage is fifth-best in the nation.

• Seven of the top eight assist producers in the Pac-12 are underclassmen, with Stanford sophomore Gray leading the way with an 11.91 average. Freshmen Colorado’s Brynna Deluzio (11.05) and Oregon State’s Kylee McLaughlin (10.92) are second and third in the league, respectively. Though a senior, UCLA’s Sarah Sponcil is averaging 10.86 assists for fourth. It is her first season in the Pac-12, transferring to UCLA this season.

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 14-0 21-2
USC 10-4 18-7
Washington 9-5 19-6
Colorado 9-5 19-6
Utah  9-5 18-7
Oregon  8-6 15-7
UCLA 8-6 15-8
Oregon State  7-7 17-9
California  4-10 13-12
Washington State 3-11 14-12
Arizona  3-11 9-14
Arizona State 0-14 10-16

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Wednesday, Nov. 8    
#2 Stanford at #13 Washington  P12N 7 p.m. PT
Thursday, Nov. 9    
#16 Oregon at Arizona State  P12N 5 p.m. PT
#15 Utah at #17 USC P12N  p.m. PT
California at #13 Washington  P12W p.m. PT
Oregon State at Arizona  P12N p.m. PT
#25 Colorado at #18 UCLA  P12N p.m. PT
Friday, Nov. 10    
California at Washington State    p.m. PT
#15 Utah at #18 UCLA    p.m. PT
Saturday, Nov. 11    
#25 Colorado at #17 USC    1 p.m. PT
Oregon State at Arizona State    p.m. PT
#2 Stanford at Washington State  P12N p.m. PT
Sunday, Nov. 12    
#16 Oregon at Arizona    11 a.m. PT

2017 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive: Merete Lutz, Stanford  
Defensive: Madeleine Gates, UCLA 
Freshman: Brynna DeLuzio, Colorado 

ALSO NOMINATED
Offensive:
 Oluoma Okaro, ASU; Alexa Smith, COLO; Taylor Agost, ORE; Mary-Kate Marshall, OSU; Mac May, UCLA; Khalia Lanier, USC; Adora Anae, UTAH; Courtney Schwan, WASH.
Defensive: Halle Harker, ASU; Gabby Carta-Samuels, COLO; Grace Massey, OSU; Tia Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN; Victoria Garrick, USC; Scambray, WASH.
Freshmen: Griere Hughes, ASU; Haylie Bennett, OSU; Mac May, UCLA; Brooke Botkin, USC. 

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
Nov. 6 Merete Lutz, STAN Madeleine, UCLA 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
Oct. 10: Adora Anae, Utah, Sports Imports/AVCA Division I Women Player of the Week
Oct. 10: Adora Anae, Utah, ESPNW Player of the Week
Nov. 2: Kathryn Plummer, Stanford, ESPNW Player of the Week


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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