Six top-25 matches highlights Pac-12 volleyball opening weekend
• The 2017 season gets under way this week with six Pac-12 teams ranked in the AVCA’s Preseason top 25. Second-ranked defending NCAA Champion STANFORD begins its title defense at the Long Beach State Tournament this weekend.
• Six matchups features opponents ranked in the top 25. No. 3 WASHINGTON hosts the Husky Invitational and closes the weekend versus No. 9 Creighton. No. 18 OREGON travels to the Vert Challenge in Gainesville, Fla., where it will play top-ranked Texas on Saturday after opening the season on Friday with No. 5 Nebraska.
• No. 13 UCLA makes its annual trip to the Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Honolulu, Hawai’i, to take on a pair of ranked foes and No. 23 UTAH’s first campaign is at No. 14 Kentucky at the Bluegrass Battle.
• Washington kicks off the most comprehensive volleyball television coverage, with its home match vs. Pittsburgh televised on Pac-12 Network on Friday, Aug. 25. USC hosts No. 16 Michigan on the Conference’s Network that night, as well. This season, 90 total matches will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks or ESPNU.
• Joining the Cardinal, Huskies, Ducks, Utes and Bruins in the AVCA preseason poll is No. 24 ARIZONA. USC and WASHINGTON STATE received votes in the polling.
• 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 will roam 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.
|Friday, Aug. 25|
|Cincinnati vs. #23 UTAH (9)||10 a.m. PT|
|Idaho vs. OREGON STATE (5)||Live Stream||10 a.m. PT|
|Weber State vs. ARIZONA STATE (1)||11 a.m. PT|
|USC vs. Loyola Marymount (8)||11 a.m. PT|
|#2 STANFORD vs. Long Beach State (6)||12 p.m. PT|
|#5 Nebraska vs. #18 OREGON (4)||2 p.m. PT|
|Northwestern State vs. COLORADO (3)||3 p.m. PT|
|#23 UTAH vs. #14 Kentucky (9)||SEC||6 p.m. PT|
|Pittsburgh vs #3 WASHINGTON (10)||P12N||6 p.m. PT|
|North Dakota State vs. ARIZONA STATE (1)||7 p.m. PT|
|University of the Pacific vs. OREGON STATE (5)||Live Stream||7 p.m.PT|
|UC Irvine vs. CALIFORNIA (2)||7 p.m.PT|
|#22 San Diego vs #13 UCLA (7)||7:45 p.m. PT|
|#16 Michigan vs. USC (8)||P12N||8 p.m. PT|
|Saturday, Aug. 26|
|East Tennessee State vs #24 ARIZONA (1)||8 a.m. PT|
|Seton Hall vs. COLORADO (3)||8 a.m. PT|
|Iowa vs. #2 STANFORD (6)||10 a.m. PT|
|Loyola Chicago vs. CALIFORNIA (2)||10 a.m PT|
|Saint Mary's (Calif.) vs WASHINGTON (10)||12 p.m. PT|
|Albany vs. USC (8)||1 p.m. PT|
|Arkansas State vs. #23 UTAH (9)||2 p.m. PT|
|Wright State vs. #2 STANFORD (6)||4 p.m. PT|
|#18 OREGON vs. #1 Texas (4)||4:30 p.m. PT|
|COLORADO VS. Oklahoma (3)||5 p.m. PT|
|Boise State vs. ARIZONA STATE (11)||5 p.m. PT|
|ARIZONA vs. Lipscomb (1)||5:30 p.m. PT|
|Kansas State vs. OREGON STATE (5)||Live Stream||7 p.m. PT|
|#9 Creighton vs. #3 WASHINGTON (10)||P12N||7 p.m.PT|
|Seattle vs. CALIFORNIA (2)||7:30 p.m. PT|
|Marquette vs. #13 UCLA (7)||7:45 p.m. PT|
|Sunday, Aug. 27|
|Middle Tennessee vs. #24 ARIZONA (1)||10 a.m. PT|
|WASHINGTON STATE vs. American||1 p.m. PT|
|#13 UCLA vs. #20 Hawai'i (7)||8 p.m. PT|
1 - Sun Devil Volleyball Classic, Tempe Ariz.; 2 - Cal Molten Classic, Berkeley, Calif.; 3 - Oklahoma Invitational, Norman, Okla.; 4 - Vert Challenge, Gainesville, Fla.; 5 - Oregon State Tournament, Corvallis, Ore.; 6 - LBSU Tournament, Long Beach Calif.; 7 - Texaco Rainbow Wahine Invitational, Honolulu Hawai'i.; 8 - USC/LMU Tournament, Los Angeles, Calif.; 9 - Bluegrass Battle, Lexington, KY.; 10 - Husky Invitational, Seattle, Wash.; 11 - LUV Invitational, Nashville, Tenn.
IN THE PRESEASON
• 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.