Top-seeded Stanford in NCAA Volleyball title hunt

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SAN FRANCISCO - Top-seeded and top-ranked STANFORD is making its third-straight NCAA Tournament semifinal appearance and 22nd all-time when it heads to Minneapolis and the Target Center this week. The Cardinal’s trip to the national semifinal marks the Pac-12’s 34th appearance among the final four teams.

• Pac-12 Champion Stanford faces fourth-seeded BYU, the only team this season to have defeated Stanford. The two teams clashed on Aug. 31 with the Cougars claiming a 3-2 victory in Provo, Utah. The teams have a lot more at stake when they play on Thursday, Dec. 13 on ESPN in Minneapolis. The winner of this match goes on to play the winner of the third-seeded Illinois vs. seventh-seeded Nebraska on Saturday, Dec. 15 on ESPN2 in the national championship match.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE (All times local to site) 

NCAA Semifinal • Dec. 13, Target Center, Minneapolis
#1 STANFORD vs. #2 BYU ESPN 4 p.m. PT/6 p.m. CT
#3 Illinois vs. #7 Nebraska ESPN 6 p.m. PT/8 p.m. CT

NCAA Championship • Dec. 15, Target Center, Minneapolis
Semifinal winners ESPN2 6 p.m. PT/8 p.m. CT

• Eight Pac-12 teams earned NCAA Tournament bids, the most of any conference in the country. It marks the 19th-consecutive year at least six teams have participated in the “Big Dance.” Joining the Cardinal in the postseason were No. 11-seed USC, No. 15-seed OREGON and No. 16-seed WASHINGTON STATE, as well as ARIZONA, COLORADO, UTAH and WASHINGTON. League teams went 10-4 in the first two rounds, placing at least one team in the regional semifinals in all 38 years of the NCAA Tournament (including 2018). The Pac-12 has had at least one team in the regional final every year dating back to 1999.

• Seven of the eight Pac-12 teams were making a return trip to the tournament after earning bids last season. The Wildcats were back after snapping a four-year run. Stanford is one of two teams in the nation to have participated in the event all 38 years, including 2018, and is tied for the most NCAA Tournament titles with seven after winning in 2016. Four Cardinals who played in the 2016 national championship match are juniors on this season’s squad.

• Conference teams have been involved in some of this year’s tournament’s  most exciting matches, including WASHINGTON upsetting Big East Champion and No. 9-seed Creighton on the road to get to the regional semifinal. The Ducks took down second-seeded Minnesota for the second time this season, winning an epic 41-39 second set, which led to a 3-1 victory in Minneapolis to claim a sport in the regional final.

• Stanford won its 18th all-time Pac-12 crown going a perfect 20-0. Junior Kathryn Plummer was tabbed the Pac-12 Player of the Year for the second-straight year. Teammates and classmates Jenna Gray and Morgan Hentz were also voted the Pac-12 Setter and Libero of the Year, respectively, for the second-straight year. Stanford’s Kevin Hambly was tabbed the Pac-12 Coach of the Year and USC’s Raquel Lázaro was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

• The Pac-12 has won a NCAA-record 15 of 37 NCAA titles awarded.

PAC-12 IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT… The Pac-12 has captured 15 out of 37 NCAA titles, including 13 of the last 27. With Stanford winning its seventh crown in 2016, it put the Cardinal in a tie for the most in the nation by a program. Four different Pac-12 teams have claimed the NCAA titles and has had at least six tournament berths for 19-consecutive years. Pac-12 teams have compiled an impressive 470-251 (.652) record in NCAA play. Toss out the 23 postseason matches between Conference teams and the league’s NCAA Tournament record against non-conference foes stands at 266-110 (.708) since 2001 and an overall mark of 402-188 (.681). Over the last 17 years, Pac-12 teams are 117-29 (.801) in the first round, including posting a NCAA-record 10-0 in 2015 after a NCAA-record 10 league teams earned bids that season. With eight bids in 2018, the Pac-12 has had at least that many teams go to the postseason in five of the last six years.

• The Pac-12 has placed at least one Conference team in the regional semifinal every year of the tournament. 18 times in the history of the Conference, the Pac-12 has had at least three teams advance to the regional final and every year but four has there been at least one team advance to the national semifinal (exceptions are 1993, 1998, 2009, 2015). Subsequently, a Pac-12 tean has made it to the championship game 27 times.

• Every Pac-12 member has earned a NCAA Tournament berth since 2013 and seven different teams have reached the national semifinal all-time.

STANFORD IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT … Stanford is the No. 1-overall seed in the NCAA Tournament after going a perfect 20-0 in league play and posting just one loss all season to earn the top seed. The Cardinal are the first undefeated Pac-12 Champion since 2003 and the ninth all-time. Stanford is one of just two teams to have earned a berth to all 38 NCAA Tournaments along with Penn State. After winning the national championship in 2016, tied with the Nittany Lions for the most NCAA titles all-time at seven. The Cardinal are the winningest team in tournament history, becoming the first to 100 postseason wins (123-31, .799). Stanford heads to the national semifinal after defeating Alabama State and Loyola Marymount in the first two rounds by a score of 3-0 each, taking down Washington State and knocking out Penn State in the regional tournament by identical 3-1 scores. Stanford (32-1) extended the nation’s longest home winning streak to 36 after winning its first four tournament matches at home and has eclipsed the 30-win plateau for the 19th time in program history and pushed its season win streak to 30 matches, a school record. Stanford is making its third-straight semifinal appearance and 22nd all time. It faces No. 4-seed BYU, the only team this season to beat Stanford.

STANFORD CLAIMS 18TH PAC-12 CROWN … Stanford dominated league play, claiming its second-straight and 18th all-time Pac-12 crown with two weeks left in the regular season. Under the direction of second-year head coach Kevin Hambly, became the first Pac-12/10 team since 2003 to go undefeated in league play and ninth all-time. Stanford has also 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. Stanford also became the second team in Conference history to post 20 league victories. USC did it first, going 20-2 in 2011, the year the Pac-12 expanded to include Colorado and Utah.

REGIONAL NODS ... The AVCA announced its regionl honorees and, as per usual, the Pac-12 was heavily represented. Eleven were named to the AVCA Pacfic North Region, including six Stanford starters (Tami Alade, Audriana Fitzmorris, Jenna Gray, Morgan Hentz, Megan McClure). Four different teams were represented (Oregon, Washington and Washington State). On the Pacific South team, a combined seven hailed from Arizona, Colorado, USC and Utah. The Pac-12 swept the major region honors with Plummer being named the region’s Player of the Year, and UO’s Brooke Nuneviller was the region Freshman of the Year and Stanford’s Kevin Hambly was Pacific North Coach of the Year.

AVCA POLL NOTES ... In the final regular-season AVCA Coaches Poll, six Pac-12 teams are ranked with Pac-12 Champion STANFORD reclaiming the No. 1 spot. The Cardinal has been in the top two every week but one, including spending the first two weeks of the season at No. 1. OREGON moved up three spots to No. 14, USC is No. 17, WASHINGTON STATE is tied for No. 19, WASHINGTON is No. 22 and ARIZONA is No. 23. COLORADO and UTAH are receiving votes. At least seven teams were ranked in 13 weeks of the polling this season, including the preseason. Eleven different teams have earned a top-25 ranking or have received votes with a season-high nine appearing in the ranking on Sept. 24.

IN THE NATIONAL STATS … The Pac-12 has been killing it in the NCAA Tournament, literally. The Conference leads tournament teams with 14.14 kills per set, including six teams in the top 25. Stanford leads the postseason with 15.36 kills per set, Oregon is 14th with 14.50 and Utah landed at 19th with 14.17. Rounding out the top 25 is Washington at 20th (13.90 kps), USC at 21st (13.67 kps) while Washington State has the 24th best average (13.58 kps). Individually, Utah’s Dani Drews was a big producer in the postseason, ranking fifth in kills per set at 5.17 and Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer is right behind at sixth with 5.15 ...The Conference boasts some of the best defensive talent in the nation with three teams rankef in the top 10 in total team blocks while Stanford leads the nation with a 3.39 blocks per set average. Stanford’s Tami Alade has been a blocking machine, leading the nation with 1.79 blocks per set. Meanwhile, Colorado’s Naghede Abu ranks 22nd with 1.4 blocks per set becoming CU’s all-time leader in the category, finishing her career with 572 blocks ... On the offensive side, the Pac-12’s dominant setters have led the way with Pac-12 Setter of the Year Stanford’s Jenna Gray ranking second in the nation with 12.41 aps. Oregon’s August Raskie is sixth (11.79 aps) and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Raquel Lázaro landed at 21st (11.22). Lázaro is one of just two freshmen in the country in the top 20 in the statistical category, boasting the second-best average among the nation’s freshman class.

UPSETS MOUNT… There have been 38 total upsets this season (based on the weekly AVCA poll) by Pac-12 teams this season so far, 26 coming in league matches. The most recent upset came in the regional semifinals when No. 14 Oregon upset No. 2 Minnesota on the Gopher’s home court for the second time this season. The Ducks previously defeated then-No. 1 Minnesota, 3-1, on Sept. 7. Washington leads the league in upsets this season with six, three in non-conference play and three in Conference matchups. Washington State and Utah are tied for second with five each, with all five of the Utes upsets coming in league matches while the Cougs had two upsets against non-conference opponents and three against league teams.

• AROUND THE LEAGUE ... 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 UA to double the win total from last season (11) and also more than doubled its Pac-12 win total (5). It posted three upset-wins this season, all coming in league play … 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. They posted three wins over ranked opponents this season, including ASU’s first over UW since Nov. 21, 2012 and the first sweep of the Huskies since Sept. 22, 2000. The Sun Devils have surpassed their overall win total from all of last season … California defeated four ranked opponents this season marking the first time the Bears have beaten four ranked teams since 2011. The Bears have more Pac-12 wins and total wins from last year (6 Pac-12, 14 overall) … Colorado posted its fourth double-digit Pac-12 win season in five years … Oregon records its second 20-win season in three years, surpassing its Pac-12 win total from a season ago. It’s second-place finish in the Pac-12 ties for the program’s best-ever showing, last time coming in 2012 …Oregon State recorded its second-straight 10-win non-conference season going 10-2, including a win over then-No. 23 San Diego … Stanford posted its second-straight 30-win campaign, which would be the program’s first back-to-back since going three years with 30 victories from 2006-2008. The Cardinal had 19 30-win campaigns in program history … All but one of UCLA’s losses this season were to teams who have earned bids to the 2018 NCAA Tournament … Utah posted double-digit league wins the last three seasons and was one shy of the 20-win mark … Washington has reached the 20-win threshold every year since 2002. That streak includes three-straight 30-win campaigns from 2013-15 … Washington State posted its second 20-win season in three years and just its second since 2002. Its 12 Pac-12 wins ties a program record set in 1997.

STANDINGS (as of 12/10/18)

Teams Pac-12 Record Overall Record
Stanford 20-0 32-1
Oregon 13-7 23-11
USC 13-7 22-11
Washington State 12-8 23-10
Arizona 11-9 22-11
Washington 10-10 20-13
Utah 10-10 19-14
Colorado 10-10 18-14
UCLA 8-12 13-14
California 7-13 15-16
Arizona State 5-15 14-18
Oregon State 1-19 11-21






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 
Nov. 26 Dani Drews, UTAH Alexis Dirige, WSU Brooke Nuneviller, ORE


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

AVCA Pacific North All-Region Team:
Tami Alade, STAN
Kara Bajema, WASH
Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN
Jenna Gray, STAN
Morgan Hentz, STAN
Meghan McClure, STAN
Taylor Mims, WSU
Kathryrn Plummer, STAN
August Raskie, ORE
Ronika Stone, ORE
Lindsey Vander Weide, ORE

Honorable Mention:
Willow Johnson, ORE
Brooke Nuneviller, ORE
Jocelyn Urias, WSU
McKenna Woodford, WSU

AVCA Pacific North Player of the Year:
Kathryn Plummer, STAN

AVCA Pacific North Freshman of the Year:
Brooke Nuneviller, ORE

AVCA Pacific North Player of the Year:
Kevin Hambly, STAN

AVCA Pacific South All-Region Team:
Naghede Abu, COLO
Brooke Botkin, USC
Kendra Dahlke, ARIZ
Dani Drews, UTAH
Khalia Lanier, USC
Raquel Lázaro, USC
Alexa Smith, COLO

Honorable Mention:
Devyn Cross, ARIZ
Kenzie Koerber, UTAH
Mac May, UCLA
Zana Muno, UCLA

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

Academic All-District 8 (CoSIDA)
First Team
Tami Alade, STAN
Halle Johnson, ASU
Meghan McClure, STAN
Mima Mirkovic, CAL
McKenna Woodford

Second Team
Carmen Annevelink, CAL
Isabel Potter, CAL
Sidney Wilson, STAN

Academic All-America (CoSIDA)
Second Team
Tami Alade, STAN


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


• 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.


• 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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