Volleyball Crown Still Up for Grabs with Stanford Leading the Pac-12

• Two weeks of Pac-12 play remains and the hardware for the Conference title is still up for grabs. While No. 4 STANFORD dropped its first opportunity to claim the crown last week, it is still in control, boasting a three-match lead over second-place and No. 14 USC. The teams go head-to-head at Stanford for the league crown on Wednesday night for Pac-12 Networks’ Spike Night. A Cardinal victory gives it the title outright. A Trojan win keeps three teams still in the mix, including USC, WASHINGTON and Stanford.

In the Rankings … Six Pac-12 teams are ranked in the AVCA Coaches poll this week, led by fourth-ranked Stanford. The Cardinal have been in the top five of the poll every week, including topping the poll at No. 1 on Aug. 28.

Washington is at No. 10 this week and USC is at No. 14. Also in the poll are No. 17 UTAH, No. 18 UCLA and No. 20 OREGON. COLORADO and OREGON STATE are receiving votes.

NCAA RPI … Four Pac-12 teams appear in the top 15 of the NCAA’s RPI and eight are in the top 30. Additionally, nine are in the top 45 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 … There is a lot at stake on Wednesday night when the fourth-ranked Cardinal host 14th-ranked USC. If the Cardinal wins, the Cardinal shut out the rest of the league for the Pac-12 crown. If the Trojans win, three teams still remain in the race for at least a share of the Conference trophy. While Stanford has the overwhelming lead in the series since the league began sponsoring volleyball in 1986, owning the series, 52-19, the series has been closer since 2010 with Stanford still holding the edge, but by a small 8-6 margin. Another top-25 tilt ends the week of matches with the No. 14 Huskies traveling to No. 20 Oregon.

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.

Upsets mount … With so many upsets this season, can it really be called an “upset” anymore? There have been 24 "upsets" (based on the weekly AVCA poll) by Pac-12 teams this season so far, 18 coming in league matches. USC has recorded the most with six, four against league opponents. Colorado has five wins over ranked opponents, four in Pac-12 play, and Oregon has knocked off four higher-ranked opponents (two in league matchups). Nine Pac-12 teams have recorded at least one upset. Most recently, the Huskies knocked off Stanford to defer an undefeated league campaign and ARIZONA was on the winning side of a five-set thriller against then-No. 16 Oregon.

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. The desert schools were on the wrong side of another significant streak buster when the Beavs swept the Arizona schools for the complete season-sweep since 1990.

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) and is on the brink of its first 20-win campaign in three years. It also has more league wins this season … Oregon State has more wins than last year (12) and its 19 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. The Beavers are looking for just their third 20-win season since the Conference began sponsoring volleyball in 1986 … 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) … USC just posted its 20 win campaign, making it more wins than all of last season (18). The Trojans have also won more league games than last year (10).

Pac-12 Players of the Week … USC’s Khalia Lanier led the Trojans to a pair of wins over ranked foes, keeping the Trojans in the Pac-12 title hunt. OREGON STATE’s Grace Massey and Kylee McLaughlin were tabbed the Defensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week, respectively, after the Beavers swept the Arizona schools in the desert for the first time since 1990.

• 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 fifth in the category (3.11), followed by WSU at No. 7 (3.00) and the Cardinal ranks 12th (2.92). Individually, Washington freshman Lauren Sanders leads the Conference with 1.49 blocks per set which is 11th in the country. WSU’s Jocelyn Urias is 13th with a 1.48 blocks average, Stanford’s Audriana Fitzmorris (1.44) is listed at 17th while UW’s Marion Hazelwood is at 25th with an 1.39 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 5.42 points per set, while also ranking seventh in kills per set (4.70). Marshall’s 5.26 points per set are ninth in the country while her kills average of 4.55 is 14th. ARIZONA STATE’s Oluoma Okaro ranks 18th in points per set (5.02). CALIFORNIA’s Antzela Dempi is ninth in the nation in aces per set (0.49) while Stanford’s Jenna Gray’s 12.03 assists per set are good for fourth in the NCAA. Stanford teammate Tami Alade’s .433 hitting percentage is sixth-best in the nation.

• Collectively, the Conference is second among all leagues in hitting percentage (.243), assists per set (12.57) and points per set (17.02).

• Six of the top seven assist producers in the Pac-12 are underclassmen, with Stanford sophomore Gray leading the way with an 11.91 average. Though a senior, UCLA’s Sarah Sponcil is averaging 10.97 assists for second. It is her first season in the Pac-12, transferring to UCLA this season. Freshmen Kylee McLaughlin (OSU) and Brynna Deluzio (COLO) are third and fourth in the league, respectively.

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 15-1 22-3
USC 12-4 20-7
Washington  11-5 21-6
Utah  10-6 19-8
Colorado  9-7 19-8
Oregon State 9-7 19-9
Oregon 9-7 16-8
UCLA  9-7 16-9
Washington State 4-12 15-13
California 4-12 13-14
Arizona  4-12 10-15
Arizona State 0-16 10-18

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Wednesday, Nov. 15    
#14 USC at #4 Stanford P12B 7 p.m. PT
Thursday, Nov. 16    
#18 UCLA at #4 Stanford  P12N 8 p.m. PT
Friday, Nov. 17    
Washington State at #20 Oregon  P12N p.m. PT
Arizona at Colorado    p.m. PT
Arizona State at #17 Utah  P12M p.m. PT
#10 Washington at Oregon State    6 p.m. PT
#14 USC at California    6 p.m. PT
Saturday, Nov. 18    
Arizona at #17 Utah    6 p.m. PT
Arizona State at Colorado    p.m. PT
Sunday, Nov. 19    
#10 Washington at #20 Oregon  P12N 1 p.m. PT
#18 UCLA at California  P12N 2:30 p.m. PT
Washington State at Oregon State P12N 3 p.m. PT

2017 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive: Khalia Lanier, USC
Defensive: Grace Massey, Oregon State
Freshman: Kylee McLaughlin, Oregon State  

ALSO NOMINATED
Offensive: Kendra Dahlke, ARIZ; Oluoma Okaro, ASU; Taylor Agost, ORE; Maddie Goings, OSU; Madeleine Gates, UCLA; Adora Anae, UTAH; Kathryn Plummer, STAN; Crissy Jones, WASH; Taylor Mims, WSU.

Defensive: Kendra Dahlke, ARIZ; Makenna Martin, ARIZ; Halle Harker, ASU; Alex Hojnar, ORE; Morgan Hentz, STAN; Madeleine Gates, UCLA; Victoria Garrick, USC; Tia Scambray, WASH; Alexis Dirige, WSU.

Freshman: Candice Denny, ARIZ; Griere Hughes, ASU; Meghan McClure, STAN; Jenny Mosser, UCLA; Brooke Botkin, USC; Lauren Sanders, WASH.

  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. 18 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 Gates, UCLA Brynna Deluzio, COLO
Nov. 13 Khalia Lanier, USC  Grace Massey, OSU Kylee McLaughlin, 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
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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