Eight Pac-12 volleyball teams ranked in the AVCA poll
Half of this week’s league matches will be top-25 showdowns, including a top-10 clash between No. 9 STANFORD at No. 7 WASHINGTON on Wednesday for Spike Night on Pac-12 Network. Eight Pac-12 teams enter the week ranked in the AVCA top-25 with WASHINGTON STATE and UTAH entering the polling for the first time this season. It is the most teams ranked for the Conference since the 2015 preseason poll.
This week’s showcases featuring the Cardinal, Huskies and Cougars pits three of the top-10 blocking teams in the nation. Stanford is the country’s top blocking team. But WSU is third in the category and UW is 10th. All three teams started league play at 2-0.
With eight teams ranked this week, three of the four matches on Friday’s slate are between top-25 teams.
• THIS WEEK’S AVCA POLL … After an exciting opening week of Conference play, a season-high eight Pac-12 teams earned a ranking in this week’s AVCA Coaches poll, the most teams since eight were ranked on Sept. 17 of last season. It is the second-most of any Conference in the country, with the Big Ten boasting nine top-25 teams.
Washington leads the Conference with a No. 7 national ranking, followed by No. 9 Stanford. UCLA is ranked No. 12, Washington State is No. 17, COLORADO is No. 20, OREGON is No. 21, USC is No. 23 and Utah is No. 25. It is the first time this season Utah and WSU make an appearance in the polling. The Utes had not been in the polling since the preseason ranking last season. The Cougars are in the poll for the first time since Nov. 9, 2009 and it is the highest since being ranked No. 7 in the 2002 polling.
• NCAA STATS LEADERS … Three of the nation’s top-10 blocking teams reside in the Pac-12. Stanford is the nation’s leader in blocks per set (3.49) with Washington State coming in at No. 3 (3.34) and Washington is recording a 3.00 bps average to rank 10th. Colorado is also No. 19 in the category (2.84).
UCLA can also be found near the top of four statistical categories, posting the second-best digs average in the nation (18.36), while ranking sixth in kills per set (14.69), fifth in assists per set (13.86) and 10th in opponent hitting percentage (0.137).
Oregon’s 15.06 kills per set ranks second in the country and leads five Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 25 of the category. Four league teams also ranked in the top 25 in hitting percentage with the Ducks leading the way at .321, which is third-best in the country.
WSU’s presence at the net limits opponents to just a .126 hitting percentage, which is the fourth-lowest in the country and best in the Pac-12.
Individually, Stanford’s Inky Ajanaku appears to be bouncing back from a season-long injury last season. She ranks seventh in the nation in hitting percentage (.427) and 14th in blocks per set (1.53). CALIFORNIA’s Alyssa Jensen is 11th in assists per set (11.43) and Utah’s Adora Anae is ninth in the country in kills per set (4.76).
Stanford freshman Audriana Fitzmorris is fifth in the country in blocks (1.70), leading a contingency of six Pac-12 players in the category, including two from WSU — Claire Martin (11th, 1.59) and Taylor Mims (20th, 1.46), which join the pair from Stanford.
• COUGS LOOKING GOOD … The last five years under head coach Jen Greeny, Washington State has recorded strong outings during the non-conference slate, last year going 11-1. However, WSU has struggled to carry that momentum into Conference play. If the first weekend of league play is any indication, the Cougs have broken through last weekend posting a pair of road top-10 wins, going 2-0 for the first time since 2003. Their win in Seattle was their first since 2001 and the win at UCLA was the team’s first victory on the Bruin campus since 1997. WSU is 3-1 in matches vs. top-25 opponents this season.
• UTES POST UPSET … The Utes are also off to a historic start in league play, going 2-0 to start Pac-12 play for the first time in school history. Utah upended Colorado in Boulder in a five-set thriller. It is Utah’s second win over a top-20 opponent this season.
• NCAA’S ACTIVE CAREER LEADERS … The Conference’s active leader in kills, 2015 All-Pac-12 honoree Washington State’s Kyra Holt ranks fourth in the NCAA in career kills among active players and is coming up on 1,500 kills which would put her in the top 53 in Pac-12 history (1,482). ARIZONA’s Penina Snuka also hit a significant milestone in this short season, going over the 4,000-assist mark, ranking third in total assists among the NCAA’s active leaders (4,252). Snuka is the 28th player in Pac-12 history to go over the 4,000-assist mark.
• USC is just three wins from reaching the 1,000-win threshold. The Trojans helped head coach Mick Haley post his 400th victory at USC (400-98) earlier this season.
• 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.
CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded standings)
|Teams||Pac-12 Record||Overall Record|
UPCOMING SCHEDULE (All Times Pacific)
|Wednesday, Sep. 28|
|#9 STANFORD at #7 WASHINGTON||P12N||7 p.m. PT|
|Thursday, Sep. 29|
|CALIFORNIA at #7 WASHINGTON||Live Stream||7 p.m. PT|
|Friday, Sep. 30|
|#12 UCLA at #25 UTAH||P12N||5 p.m. PT|
|#21 OREGON at ARIZONA STATE||P12N||6 p.m. PT|
|#23 USC at #20 COLORADO||P12N||7 p.m. PT|
|#9 STANFORD at #17 WASHINGTON STATE||P12N||7 p.m. PT|
|OREGON STATE at ARIZONA||P12N||8 p.m. PT|
|Saturday, Oct. 1|
|#23 USC at #25 UTAH||Live Stream||6 p.m. PT|
|#21 OREGON at ARIZONA||Live Stream||6 p.m. PT|
|Sunday, Oct. 2|
|#12 UCLA at #20 COLORADO||P12N||11 a.m. PT|
|CALIFORNIA at #17 WASHINGTON STATE||Live Stream||11 a.m. PT|
|OREGON STATE at ARIZONA STATE||P12N||7 p.m. PT|
2016 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive: Kyra Holt, Sr., Washington State
Defensive: Claire Martin, So., Washington State
Freshman: Bailey Choy, Fr., Utah
Offensive: Katarina Pilepic, ARIZ; Gabby Simpson, COLO; Lindsey Vander Wiede, ORE; Kathryn Plummer, STAN; Reily Buechler, UCLA; Adora Anae, UTAH; Courtney Schwan; WASH.
Defensive: Naghede Abu, COLO; Amanda Benson, ORE; Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN; Taylor Formicio, UCLA; Tawnee Laufalemana, UTAH; Kara Bajema, WASH.
Freshman: Ronika Stone, ORE; Kathryn Plummer, STAN; Kylie Miller, UCLA; Kara Bajema, WASH; Alexis Dirige, WSU.
2016 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
- 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 14 NCAA titles overall.
- The current group of Pac-12 volleyball coaches finished the 2015 season with over 5,000 Division I victories to its credit, having compiled 5,040 wins in a combined 230 years of head coaching experience. That averages out to nearly 22 wins a season for each coach per season.
- In addition, these coaches have guided 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. 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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