Get Ready For Some Volleyball

When volleyball analyst Mike Dodd was first contacted by Pac-12 Enterprises Director of Talent and Development Kristin Bredes to gauge his interest in broadcasting matches for the networks, he was shocked by how many contests he was offered to work.

When you have 82 time slots to fill, there seems to be a lot of work to go around.

There have been a handful of broadcasts to air so far, but tonight is when the real fun begins. Pac-12 Conference play commences with a pair of matches -- Arizona State at Arizona and Washington State at No. 5 Washington. Those are the first of nine matches to be televised this week, and the thorough coverage doesn't end until the completion of the regular season.

"Not just as a volleyball broadcaster and player, but just as a fan I'm really excited," said Dodd, a former beach volleyball star who won a silver medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics. "To have it happenining in a conference that is so rich in history and great in volleyball is very exciting.

Dodd is working tonight's ASU-Arizona game then will be in the Bay Area on Wednesday night for Cal at No. 6 Stanford. After the nine matches being aired on the Pac-12 Networks this week, there will be 10 more next week. And the beat will go on and on and on.

And the Pac-12 is off to its usual dominant start. Annually the strongest conference in the country, the Pac-12 has five teams ranked in the top-8 of this week's AVCA Coaches Poll. That includes UCLA and USC at Nos. 1-2. The Bruins and Trojans face off Wednesday on ESPNU.

In addition to Washington at No. 5 and Stanford at No. 6, Oregon is ranked No. 8 this week.

"Up and down the conference, there are quality volleyball teams in the conference," Dodd said. "There are quality volleyball players, coaches and programs. It's as tough as conference as there is, that's for sure."

In addition to the five teams ranked in the top-8, surprising Oregon State is first among others receiving votes this week, putting the Beavers at No. 26 nationally. Several other conference teams have had terrific nonconference seasons -- Arizona State is 11-2 while Colorado and Washington State are 10-2.

"It's going to be a matter of holding their own whwen playing at home and then going out and stealing big matches on the road," Dodd said. "You can't win the Pac-12 without some big wins on the road. There are a lot of tough games. The teams that can really dig down and pull it out on the road at tough locations will come out on top."


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