Pac-12 Volleyball Prepares for the Final Week of the Season

• The final week of volleyball season is here. While STANFORD has already clinched its 17th all-time Pac-12 crown, teams are still playing to impress the NCAA Division I Volleyball Selection Committee. The NCAA announces the field of 64 on Sunday, Nov. 26 on ESPNU at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET.

In the Rankings … Pac-12 Champion Stanford leads the way again in the AVCA Coaches poll this week, coming in at No. 4 and appearing in the top five every week of the season, including topping out at No. 1 on Aug. 28.

Five Pac-12 teams, in total, are in the poll this week. WASHINGTON, USC and UTAH in the top 15 at No. 12, 13 and 15, respectively. UCLA is No. 19 this week while OREGON is No. 24. 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 40, and 11 of the 12 teams are in the top 100. For the full RPI, visit ncaa.com.

Top-25 Matchups … Though the league crown has already been decided, there are still key matchups on the slate this week between teams still looking to earn a high seed or make a case they deserve an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. No. 13 USC travels to No. 24 OREGON on Wednesday. The Ducks were one of the 10 teams announced earlier this month to be a high seed for the NCAA Committee at the time. Meanwhile, the Trojans are looking to make a case for a top-16 seed in the postseason, as well. Also on Wednesday, No. 19 UTAH looks to knock off the league champions in Maples Pavilion. The Utes are looking to complete their best season since joining the Pac-12, already setting a team record for league wins and is just one win shy of matching its high in wins (21) over the last seven years. Meanwhile, the Cardinal look to make a case for a top-four seed in the Tournament. The final day of the regular season of the season, crosstown-rivals No. 19 UCLA and No. 13 USC go for the series finale. The Trojans won the first meeting to open league play in September.

Stanford wins Pac-12 crown … Stanford claimed its 17th Pac-12 crown, by far the most of any team in the Conference. It was the team’s first since 2014. The Cardinal clinched the outright title on Nov. 15, sweeping USC, 3-0, at home.

Upsets mount … With so many upsets this season, can it really be called an “upset” anymore? There have been 26 upsets (based on the weekly AVCA poll) by Pac-12 teams this season so far, 20 coming in league matches. USC has recorded the most with six, four against league opponents. Colorado had five wins over ranked opponents, four in Pac-12 play and Oregon has knocked off five higher-ranked opponents (three in league matchups). Nine Pac-12 teams have recorded at least one upset. Most recently, Oregon State took down the-No. 10 Washington, while Washington State defeated then-No. 20 Oregon last week.

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. 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. With wins over the Washington schools last week, OSU finished a season-sweep of the Washington schools for the first time in Pac-12 history and since 1984.

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 records its first 20-win season since 2014 and its 21 wins are the most since winning that many in 2003. Its 11 conference wins are the most since joining the Pac-12 in 2011 and are almost double its total from last year (6) … OREGON STATE is on the verge of recording its best season in team history. The Beavers currently tie for fifth in the Pac-12 standings heading into the final week. That would be its best showing since finishing fifth in 2001. The Beavs’ best finish ever was a third-place showing in 1990. OSU has posted a team record with 11 wins (tied with 11 in 1990) and its 21 wins are just the third time since the Pac-12 started sponsoring the sport that it has  had a 20-win campaign … 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). It has also had a 20-win campaign every year since 2000 … UCLA has recorded a 20-win season in each of the last four seasons and in 18 of the last 19 seasons … USC 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) … UTAH has recorded back-to-back 20-win campaigns for the first time since joining the Pac-12. Its 12 Pac-12 wins are a team record, also marking just the second time the Utes have recorded double-digit league wins since joining the Pac-12 … WASHINGTON has had a 20-win campaign every season since 2002. Only Stanford has had a longer streak.

Pac-12 Players of the Week … For the second time this season, Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer is the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week while teammate Audriana Fitzmorris was tabbed the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week. The duo led Stanford to clinch the Pac-12 crown last week. Oregon State’s Kylee McLaughlin earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors for the second-straight week and fourth time this season.

• 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-10 blocking teams in the nation residing in Pac-12. The Huskies are fifth in the category (3.07), followed by Stanford at No. 8 (3.01) and Washington State ranks ninth (3.00). Individually, Stanford sophomore Audriana Fitzmorris leads the Conference with 1.51 blocks per set which is 11th in the country. Washington freshman Lauren Sanders is 15th in the nation, collecting 1.46 bps, Jocelyn Urias is 20th with a 1.42 blocks average and Stanford’s Tami Alade (1.38) is listed at 23rd.

• 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 5.43 points per set, while also ranking ninth in kills per set (4.72). Marshall’s 5.08 points per set are 17th in the country while her kills average of 4.41 is 19th. ARIZONA STATE’s Oluoma Okaro ranks 19th in points per set (5.04), also averaging 4.42 kps, good for 17th in the nation. CALIFORNIA’s Antzela Dempi is ninth in the nation in aces per set (0.49) while Stanford’s Jenna Gray’s 12.07 assists per set is the third-best average in the NCAA.

• Collectively, the Conference leads the nation in three statistical categories, heading into the week. It is the top blocking conference, but also produces the most points per set, edging the Big Ten, 17.01-17.00. Pac-12 teams have also tied for the lead in assists per game (12.58), tying with the Big Ten. League teams are the second-most efficient hitters in the nation, ranking second with a .242 hitting percentage.

• Six of the top seven assist producers in the Pac-12 are underclassmen, with Stanford sophomore Jenna Gray leading the way with an 12.07 average. Though a senior, UCLA’s Sarah Sponcil is averaging 11.09 assists for second. It is her first season in the Pac-12, transferring to UCLA this season. Freshmen Brynna Deluzio (COLO) and Kylee McLaughlin (OSU) 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 17-1 24-3
USC 12-5 21-8
Washington  12-6 22-7
Utah 12-6 21-8
Colorado  11-7 21-8
Oregon State 11-7 21-9
UCLA 10-8 17-10
Oregon 9-9 16-10
Washington State 5-13 16-14
California 4-14 13-16
Arizona  4-14 10-17
Arizona State 0-18 10-20

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Wednesday, Nov. 22    
#19 UCLA at Oregon State   1 p.m. PT
#13 USC at #24 Oregon  P12N 2 p.m. PT
Colorado at California  P12N 3 p.m. PT
Arizona at #12 Washington  P12N p.m. PT
#15 Utah at #4 Stanford  P12N p.m. PT
Arizona State at Washington State   p.m. PT
Friday, Nov. 24    
#15 Utah at Colorado  P12M 7 p.m. PT
#24 Oregon at Oregon State  P12O p.m. PT
Washington State at #12 Washington  P12N 8 p.m. PT
Saturday, Nov. 25    
Arizona State at Arizona  P12A 6 p.m. PT
#19 UCLA at #13USC  P12LA 7 p.m. PT
#4 Stanford at California  P12N 7 p.m. PT

2017 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive: Kathryn Plummer, Stanford
Defensive: Audriana Fitzmorris, Stanford
Freshman: Kylee McLaughlin, Oregon State 

ALSO NOMINATED
Offensive: Alexa Smith, COLO: Taylor Agost, ORE; Kory Cheshire, OSU; Madeleine Gates, UCLA; Brittany Abercrombie, USC; Tawnee Luafalemana, UTAH; Kara Bajema, WASH; Taylor Mims, WSU.
Defensive: Naghede Abu, COLO; Alex Hojnar, ORE; Kayla Ellis, OSU; Zana Muno, UCLA; Victoria Garrick, USC; Berkeley Oblad, UTAH; Courtney Schwan, WASH; Alexis Dirige, WSU.
Freshman: Brynna Deluzio, COLO; Meghan McClure, STAN; Jenny Mosser, UCLA; Brooke Botkin, USC; Kenzie Koerber, UTAH; Lauren Sanders, WASH.

Date 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. 28 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, UCLA Brynna DeLuzio, COLO
Nov. 20 Kathryn Plummer, STAN Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN 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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