Pac-12 volleyball regular season finishes with rivalry matches

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Percy Anderson

SAN FRANCISCO - With just one week remaining in the regular season, Pac-12 teams battle for postseason positioning against their rivals. No. 2 STANFORD has already claimed its second-straight and 18th all-time Pac-12 crown and boasts the top RPI in the country. It is looking to become the first undefeated league champion since 2003. The rest of the Pac-12 looks to boost their postseason resumes with two final matches, closing out the regular season against traditional Conference rivals.

All six rivalry matchups on Friday, Nov. 23, and Saturday, Nov. 24, are televised on Pac-12 Networks. Following the conclusion of the regular season, Pac-12 teams will await their postseason fate as the NCAA selection show airs on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 5:30 p.m. PT on ESPNU.

WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK
• Before the rivalry matches, No. 17 OREGON travels to No. 19 WASHINGTON for a pivotal top-20 matchup on Wednesday, Nov. 21 on Pac-12 Network. Oregon looks to maintain its third-place spot in the league standings, which would be its best Conference finish since 2012, while Washington looks for its ninth victory over a ranked team this season.
• No. 15 USC and UCLA kick off the rivalry games on Friday, Nov. 23. The Trojans beat the Bruins earlier this season and attempt to sweep the season series for the first time since 2013. UCLA is prepared to battle defensively as the league’s digs leader averaging 17.70 dpg against a USC squad that has scored the second-most points in the Conference this season.
• No. 19 Washington and No. 20 WASHINGTON STATE fight for the Apple Cup on Saturday, Nov. 24 on Pac-12 Networks. UW’s setter Ella May Powell, who ranks fifth in assists per set (10.79) in the Pac-12, looks to guide the Huskies offensively against a tough Cougars defense that ranks third in blocks per set (2.56).

UPCOMING SCHEDULE (All Times Local to Site)

Wednesday, Nov. 21 TV/Stream Time
Colorado at UCLA* P12N 1 p.m. PT
California at #23 Arizona* Live Stream 4 p.m. MT
Utah at #15 USC* Live Stream 3 p.m. PT
#2 Stanford at Arizona State* Live Stream 5 p.m. PT
#17 Oregon at #19 Washington* P12N  6 p.m. PT
Oregon State at #20 Washington State* Live Stream 7 p.m. PT
Friday, Nov. 23 TV/Stream Time
Colorado at Utah* P12N 12 p.m. MT
#15 USC at UCLA* P12N 5 p.m. PT
Saturday, Nov. 24 TV/Stream Time
#19 Washington at #20 Washington State* P12W 4 p.m. PT
#23 Arizona at Arizona State* P12A 7 p.m. MT
California at #2 Stanford* P12BA 7 p.m. PT
#17 Oregon at Oregon State* P12O 7 p.m. PT

* Pac-12 Conference Match

STANFORD CLAIMS 18TH PAC-12 CROWN
• STANFORD clinched back-to-back Pac-12 regular-season titles and its 18th all-time on Nov. 9. Under the direction of second-year head coach Kevin Hambly, the Cardinal have yet to drop a match in league play this season and have four matches left before postseason action begins.
• The Cardinal look to become the ninth team in Pac-12/10 history, and first since 2003, to run the table in league play. Stanford has posted undefeated league seasons in 1991, 1995 and 1997. UCLA (1988, 1989, 1990) and USC (2003) are the only other programs to accomplish the feat.
• USC is the only team to win 20 Pac-12 matches, going 20-2 in 2011, the year the Pac-12 expanded to include Colorado and Utah.

IN THE RANKINGS
• Six Pac-12 teams are ranked this week in the AVCA Coaches poll with Pac-12 Champion STANFORD coming in at No. 2 with 15 first place votes. The Cardinal has been in the top two every week but one, including spending the first two weeks of the season in the top spot of the polling.
• USC is next on the list, coming in at No. 15, followed by No. 17 OREGON, No. 19 WASHINGTON, No. 20 WASHINGTON STATE and No. 23 ARIZONA. COLORADO, UCLA and UTAH are receiving votes.
• At least seven teams have been ranked every week except two, including the preseason.
• 11 different teams have earned a top-25 ranking or have received votes this season with nine teams appearing in the ranking on Sept. 24.
• Stanford also maintains the top RPI in the country with USC (No. 8) also in the top 10. WSU (No. 12), Washington (No. 19) and Oregon (No. 21) are in the top 25. The Pac-12 also boasts nine teams with a RPI of 50 and better, and all but one are in the top 100.

WHAT’S TRENDING
• A pair of Buffs earned Pac-12 weekly honors this week, with senior Naghede Abu taking home Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and Jenna Ewert claiming her second Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honor this season. It was a record-setting weekend for the Buffs in wins over Oregon and Oregon State. Abu set a school record with 17 total blocks in a match and Ewert became only the second CU setter to tally 10 blocks in a match.
• Arizona State’s Alyse Ford earned her first-career Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week nod after helping tallying a match-high 25 kills to lead ASU to defeat USC for the first time since 2014, marking its third win over a top-15 team this year.
• Stanford’s No. 2 national ranking can easily be justified by looking at the team’s statistical numbers. It has found success with a balanced offensive attack and a staunch defense leading the nation in blocks per set (3.37) while ranking second in assists per set (14.13), hitting percentage (.305), and kills per set (15.0).
• The Pac-12 boasts some of the best setters in the nation, with three student-athletes ranked in the top-15 in assists per set. Stanford’s Jenna Gray is second in the country with 12.47 aps and Oregon’s August Raskie ranks third at 11.99 aps. USC’s Raquel Lázaro has the highest assists average among freshmen in the country and ranks 15th among all players with 11.29 aps.
• The Pac-12 is also home to four of the top-20 attack producers in the country with Arizona’s Kendra Dahlke leading all Pac-12 student-athletes with 4.91 kills per set, good enough for fourth in the nation. Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer ranks sixth (4.82), and USC’s Brooke Botkin (4.47) and Khalia Lanier (4.34) are 16th and 20th, respectively.
• The Pac-12 also boasts four of the most high-powered offenses in the country with Stanford (15.0) and Oregon (14.83) ranking second and sixth in the country, respectively, in kills per set. Additionally, USC (14.04) is 24th and Arizona (14.0) is 26th.
• Washington State is looking to continue to boost its postseason resume and make a third-consecutive NCAA Tournament, a feat it has not accomplished since 2000-02. The Cougs, who advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year, have already surpassed its Pac-12 win total from all of last season (6) and its overall win total from 2017 (18), logging its 19th victory with two weeks left in the regular season. WSU is fourth in the Conference before hosting Oregon State and rival Washington this week, which would be its highest finish since 2002 if it stays in that position.
• Arizona’s Dave Rubio joined an elite company after claiming his 500th victory while at Tucson on Sept. 14. In his 27th season at the Wildcat helm, he is only the second head coach in Pac-12 history to reach the milestone. Rubio has led his squad to more league and overall wins than all of last season when the Wildcats were 11-18 and 5-15 in the Pac-12.
• Pac-12 Champion Stanford recorded its 18th-consecutive 20-win season with its victory over UCLA on Oct. 28. The Cardinal have won 24 in a row, as of Nov. 18. Going a perfect 10-0 to start league, making it the first time since 1997 and 1998 that the Cardinal has had back-to-back seasons of 10-0 starts in league play.
• CALIFORNIA has defeated four ranked opponents this season, its latest take down coming against then-No. 18 WSU on Nov. 18. It marks the first time Cal has knocked off more than two ranked Conference opponents in the same season since 2016. The victory also marks the first time Cal has swept three Pac-12 teams in the same season since 2013 when the Bears swept UCLA, Colorado and Oregon State. The Bears have more league wins and total wins from last year (7 Pac-12, 15 overall)
• ARIZONA STATE broke a lengthy losing streak, picking up its first Pac-12 win since 2016 and the first under head coach Sanja Tomasevic on Sept. 23 over then-No. 12 Oregon. The win over the Ducks was the first over a ranked team since 2016 and was also the first sweep of UO since 2005. The Sun Devils have notched three wins over top-15 opponents this season with a win over then-No. 15 Washington and No. 15 USC, as well. It was ASU’s first win over Washington since 2012 and its first win over USC since 2014, including its largest margin of victory over the Trojans since 1990. The Sun Devils have surpassed their overall win total from all of last season.
• Pac-12 teams opened the season in dominant fashion, going 25-5 (.833) in the first weekend of play. League teams have posted a 385-91 (.809) record in the opening week of play dating back to 2002.

NCAA TOP 10 REVEAL 
• On Sunday, Nov. 4, the NCAA revealed its top-10 seeds for the NCAA Tournament if the season ended on Wednesday, Oct. 31, using the selection criteria and results through that date. STANFORD was picked the No. 2 overall seed while USC would be the No. 7 seed.
• The reveal is based on the criteria used to select and seed the 64 teams for the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship and includes strength of schedule, Rating Percentage Index, head-to-head competition, results versus common opponents, and significant wins and losses. The announcement is part of the continued team evaluations that will culminate with the final bracket, revealed during the selection show on Sunday, November 25, at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL BROADCASTS
• In 2018, 91 Pac-12 regular-season volleyball matches will be televised this season, by far the most of any conference in the nation. Of those, 88 appear on the Pac-12 Networks beginning with the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge Friday, Aug. 31 doubleheader featuring Colorado and Washington taking on Illinois and Iowa.
• ESPN will also televise three Pac-12 matches, including the UCLA-USC rivalry matchup on Wednesday, Sept. 19 on ESPNU. ESPN2 will be the home of two Pac-12 matches: USC at STANFORD on Friday, Sept. 28 and Stanford at OREGON on Sunday, Oct. 21.
• For a full television schedule, visit pac-12.com.


STANDINGS (as of 11/19/18)

Teams Pac-12 Record Overall Record
Stanford 18-0 26-1
USC 12-6 20-9
Oregon 11-7 18-10
Washington State 10-8 19-9
Washington 10-8 18-10
Arizona 9-9 20-10
Colorado 9-9 17-12
Utah 8-10 16-13
UCLA 8-10 13-12
California 7-11 15-14
Arizona State 5-13 14-16
Oregon State 1-17 11-19

PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

THIS WEEK:
Offensive:
 Alyse Ford, ASU
Defensive: Naghede Abu, COLO
Freshman: Jenna Ewert, COLO

ALSO NOMINATED:
Offensive:
Devyn Cross, ARIZ; Mima Mirkovic, CAL; Alexa Smith; COLO; Willow Johnson, ORE; Amy Underdown, OSU; Tami Alade, STAN; Jenny Mosser, UCLA; Dani Drews, UTAH. 
Defensive: Makenna Martin, ARIZ; Courtney Leffel, ASU; Brooke Nuneviller, ORE; Grace Massey, OSU; Tami Alade, STAN; Zana Muno, UCLA; Kenzie Koerber, UTAH.
Freshman: Brooke Nuneviller, ORE; Maddie Sheehan, OSU; Emily Ryan, UCLA; Megan Yett, UTAH.

2018 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

 

Offensive

Defensive

Freshman

Aug. 27 Brooke Botkin, USC Grace Massey, OSU Raquel Lázaro, USC
Sep. 3 Mac May, UCLA Claire Martin, WSU Raquel Lázaro, USC
Sep. 10 Kathryn Plummer, STAN Morgan Hentz, STAN Brooke Nuneviller, ORE
Sep. 17 Kathryn Plummer, STAN Morgan Hentz, STAN Maddie Sheehan, OSU
Sep. 24 Ronika Stone, ORE Lindsey Vander Weide, ORE Raquel Lázaro, USC
Oct. 1 Kendra Dahlke, ARIZ Morgan Hentz, STAN Holly Campbell, STAN 
Oct. 8 Taylor Borup, ORE Morgan Hentz, STAN Brooke Nuneviller, ORE
Oct. 15 Kathryn Plummer, STAN Morgan Hentz, STAN Raquel Lázaro, USC
Oct. 22 Jocelyn Urias, WSU Devyn Cross, ARIZ Lauren Forte, CAL
Oct. 29 Penny Tusa, WSU Tami Alade, STAN Brooke Nuneviller, ORE
Nov. 5 Claire Hoffman, WASH Tami Alade, STAN Jenna Ewert, COLO
Nov. 12 Samantha Drechsel, WASH Avie Niece, WASH Holly Campbell, STAN
Nov. 19 Alyse Ford, ASU Naghede Abu, COLO Jenna Ewert, COLO 

NATIONAL HONORS

AVCA National Player of the Week:
Sep. 11 - Kathryn Plummer, Stanford
Oct. 9 - Taylor Borup, Oregon

ESPNW Player of the Year Watch: 
Kathryn Plummer keeps elevating
Khalia Lanier hitting and knitting her way to Stanford showdown
After rocky introduction, Ronika Stone is crushing it at Oregon
Stanford setter Jenna Gray is no joke

Senior CLASS Award Nominees: 
Alexa Smith, COLO

Tami Alade, STAN

Senior CLASS Award Finalists:
Tami Alade, STAN


IN THE PRESEASON

Pac-12 Preseason Coaches Poll & All-Pac-12 Team | AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll


2018-19 IN A NUTSHELL

• Stanford returns as the defending Pac-12 Champion, also advancing to the NCAA semifinal. The Cardinal were also picked to win the 2018 league crown, followed by USC in second and Oregon in third. For a complete listing of the poll, click on the link below.
• Seven AVCA All-Americans return from last year, including 2017 AVCA National Player of the Year and Pac-12 Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer. Four of the seven are first team honorees and all are juniors, including USC’s Lanier, and Cardinal teammates Morgan Hentz and Jenna Gray. Plummer became the first player to win the national player of the year honor a year after garnering the AVCA National Freshman of the Year award.
• Nine of the 14 players named to the 2017 All-Pac-12 team return for 2018, including Stanford’s Morgan Hentz, the Pac-12 Libero of the Year last year, and Jenna Gray, the 2017 Pac-12 Setter of the Year.
• The Pac-12 welcomes new coaches to the sidelines, including California mentor Jennifer Dorr and USC’s Brent Crouch. Dorr has been with the Golden Bears program since 2009 when she joined the squad as the director of operations before moving to the role of assistant coach in 2011. Crouch was named the 2016 West Coast Conference Coach of the Year while with Portland.
• Pac-12 volleyball continues to attract marquee student-athletes. Five Pac-12 teams landed at least one Volleyball Magazine FAB 50 recruit with Oregon and UCLA pacing the league with four each. Thirteen named to the list will be donning a Pac-12 uniform this season.


HISTORICALLY SPEAKING

• The Pac-12 has captured seven of the last 15 NCAA crowns (2016- Stanford, 2011 - UCLA, 2005 - Washington, 2004 - Stanford, 2003 - USC, 2002 - USC, 2001 - Stanford) and 15 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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