Pac-12 volleyball season opens with big matches
• The 31st season of Pac-12 volleyball tips off this weekend and Conference teams are not taking it easy. In the first weekend of play, league teams face seven top-25 teams, including five in the top 10.
• OREGON hosts the Vert Challenge this weekend in Eugene, and take on second-ranked Texas and 10th-ranked Florida, while STANFORD hosts No. 3 Minnesota. All three of those matches kick off the Pac-12 Network broadcast schedule. Road challenges are also in store, as ARIZONA heads to No. 6 Hawai’i, also facing No. 4 Wisconsin in a three-match tournament. WASHINGTON STATE goes to the midwest for matches against No. 20 Purdue and No. 24 Kentucky.
• Defending co-Pac-12 Champions USC and WASHINGTON earned the highest preseason ranking in the Pac-12 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll that was released a couple of weeks ago. Both were tied for seventh in the polling, leading a contingent of four league teams in the top 25. STANFORD was 11th, receiving one first-place vote, and UCLA was 12th. OREGON, ARIZONA and ARIZONA STATE also received votes.
• STANFORD was voted the Pac-12 preseason favorite by the league’s 12 coaches. The Cardinal received nine first-place votes to finish ahead of UCLA, which received one first-place vote. UW was second in the polling with one first-place vote and Oregon was voted fourth.
• Three AVCA All-Americans return from last year, including Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Hayley Hodson of Stanford. She was a second team All-American last year. Also back from last year are third-team All-American and Pac-12 Libero of the Year Taylor Formico, as well as the Cardinal’s Merete Lutz.
• Nine of the 14 players named to the 2015 All-Pac-12 team return for 2016. Additionally, Stanford's Inky Ajanaku, a three-time All-American, also comes back after sitting out all of 2015 because of injury.
• Pac-12 teams have had early success in recent years, posting an impressive 332-81 (.804) record in the first weekend of play since 2002. Last season, league teams won a combined 27 matches while posting a .794 winning percentage.
• The Pac-12 welcomes three new coaches to the sidelines this season. Stevie Mussie took over at ARIZONA STATE after serving two seasons at volleyball powerhouse Penn State, helping the Nittany Lions win a national title in 2014. Jesse Mahoney did not have a long drive to get to Colorado. An alum, receiving his undergraduate and lay degree from CU, he returned to Boulder after spending four years as head coach at Denver. Oregon State will be led by Mark Barnard, who is no stranger to the Beavers. He spent the last 11 seasons in Corvallis under former head coach Taras Liskevych.
• FAB Freshman … Pac-12 volleyball continues to recruit marquee student-athletes. Four Pac-12 teams landed at least two Volleyball Magazine FAB 50 recruit with STANFORD pacing the Conference with five. USC also signed the No. 1 recruit in the nation in freshman Khalia Lanier.
• Once again, the Pac-12 will have the most comprehensive volleyball television coverage of any league in the country. 94 total matches will be broadcast live, with 91 being televised on the Conference’s Pac-12 Network. Another three more were selected to be televised on ESPNU. For the full television schedule, visit pac-12.com.
UPCOMING SCHEDULE (All Times Pacific)
|Friday, Aug. 26||TV/Stream||Time (PDT)|
|WASHINGTON STATE at #24 Kentucky||9 a.m.|
|Utah State at OREGON STATE (1)||Live Stream||10 a.m.|
|CALIFORNIA vs. TBD (2)||1 p.m.|
|ARIZONA STATE vs. Fairfield (3)||2 p.m.|
|#12 UCLA vs. Niagra (4)||4 p.m.|
|WASHINGTON STATE vs. #20 Purdue||4:30 p.m.|
|Idaho State at UTAH (5)||Live Stream||6 p.m.|
|COLORADO vs. Texas Tech (6)||6:30 p.m.|
|OREGON STATE vs. Portland (1)||Live Stream||7 p.m.|
|San Diego at #11 STANFORD (7)||Live Stream||7 p.m.|
|#2 Texas at OREGON (8)||P12O||7 p.m.|
|CALIFORNIA vs. Southern Utah (2)||Live Stream||7 p.m.|
|ARIZONA vs. Kansas State (9)||7:45 p.m.|
|New Mexico vs. ARIZONA STATE (3)||8 p.m.|
|Marquette at #7 USC||8 p.m.|
|Saturday, Aug. 27|
|Gonzaga at UTAH (5)||Live Stream||9 a.m.|
|COLORADO vs. Portlad State (6)||9:30 a.m.|
|#12 UCLA vs. Illinois State (4)||9:30 a.m.|
|Wyoming at WASHINGTON STATE||10 a.m.|
|Santa Clara at #7 USC||P12N||10 a.m.|
|TBD vs. CALIFORNIA (2)||12 p.m.|
|#7 WASHINGTON at James Madison||3 p.m.|
|Abilene Christian vs. ARIZONA STATE (3)||3 p.m.|
|#10 Florida at OREGON (8)||P12N||6 p.m.|
|Long Beach State vs. COLORADO (6)||6 p.m.|
|Butler at UTAH (5)||Live Stream||6 p.m.|
|Seattle at OREGON STATE (1)||Live Stream||7 p.m.|
|UC Riverside vs. CALIFORNIA (2)||Live Stream||7 p.m.|
|#12 UCLA at LMU (4)||7 p.m.|
|ARIZONA vs. Wisconsin (9)||7:45 p.m.|
|UC Irvine at #7 USC||P12N||8 p.m.|
|Sunday, Aug. 28|
|#7 WASHINGTON at American University||1 p.m.|
|#3 Minnesota at #11 STANFORD (7)||P12N||1 p.m.|
|ARIZONA at #6 Hawaii (9)||8 p.m.|
1 - Ultra Ankle Challenge, Corvallis, Ore.; 2 - Molten Classic, Albaquerque, NM.; 3 - UNM Tournament, Albaquerque, NM.; 4 - LMU Invitational, Los Angeles, Calif.; 5 - Utah Classic, Salt Lake City, Utah; 6 - Portland State Invitational, Portland, Ore.; 7 - Cardinal Classic, Palo Alto, Calif.; 8 - Vert Challenge, Eugene, Ore.; 9 - Wahine Invitational, Honolulu, Hawai’i
IN THE PRESEASON
- The Pac-12 has captured six of the last 15 NCAA crowns (2011 - UCLA, 2005 - Washington, 2004 - Stanford, 2003 - USC, 2002 - USC, 2001 - Stanford) and a record 14 NCAA titles overall.
- Pac-12 coaches have led NCAA Division I teams to 38 NCAA semifinal appearances and eight NCAA titles. In the last 14 years, seven different coaches have been named the ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Coach of the Year and/or the AVCA Coach of the Year - Arizona’s David Rubio (2001 ASICS), California’s Rich Feller (2007 ASICS, 2010 ASICS and AVCA), Stanford’s John Dunning (2001 AVCA), UCLA’s Mike Sealy (2011 AVCA), USC’s Mick Haley (2003 AVCA, 2015 AVCA), Washington’s Jim McLaughlin (2004 ASICS and AVCA), and UCLA’s Andy Banachowski (2006 ASICS and AVCA).
- The Pac-12 has had 10 or more All-Americans selections in seven of the last 10 years. This year, eight were named to the AVCA All-America squad, USC’s Samantha Bricio and Washington’s Lianna Sybeldon were named to the first team, Stanford had a pair of second-team selections in Hayley Hodson and Merete Lutz, with USC’s Alicia Ogoms joining them. On the third team, Stanford’s Madi Bugg and Brittany Howard, and UCLA’s Taylor Formico earned spots. Ten former Pac-12 players have earned All-America honors four times, while 18 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 six - 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 13 times, including Vansant in 2013.
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