Pac-12 volleyball teams put to the test in final week of non-conference play

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SAN FRANCISCO - Going into the final weekend of non-conference play, Pac-12 teams rev up the slate for some final tests before heading into the gauntlet of league action where six teams are currently ranked in the top 25. No. 2 STANFORD looks to try to regain the top spot in the national polls traveling to face No. 1 Nebraska (Big Ten Network) in the first of two top-15 showdowns. It also hosts No. 12 BYU after the Cougars make a stop to face intra-state rival No. 18 UTAH. Both those matches will be televised on Pac-12 Networks. No. 10 WASHINGTON plays a home-and-home with No. 9 Wisconsin (FS1 and Pac-12 Networks).

AVCA RANKINGS
• Starting the season with an 8-0 record, CALIFORNIA enters the AVCA Coaches Poll for the first time since Nov. 18, 2013, rankings No. 24, as six teams are ranked this week.
• STANFORD falls to No. 2 after suffering its first loss of the season, but is still receiving 23 first-place votes. WASHINGTON enters the top 10 (No. 10) after picking up a big road win over a top-20 opponent. OREGON stays in the top 15 at No. 14, UTAH is No. 18 and USC is No. 20. Colorado and Washington State are also receiving votes.
• Stanford was the overwhelming No. 1 pick in the AVCA Preseason Coaches poll released on Aug. 13. The defending NCAA Champion garnered 62 of a possible 64 first-place votes. It was the second-straight year the Cardinal were No. 1 in the preseason and the 74th all-time No. 1 ranking for the program.
• Since 2003, the Pac-12 has had at least five teams in the preseason poll with the exception of 2014 and 2007 when four teams were ranked.

WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK
• Stanford wraps up a six-match stretch facing top-15 foes (five in the top eight) this week, traveling to No. 1 Nebraska on Wednesday. The Cardinal remain in Big Ten country after participating in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge last weekend in Happy Valley, splitting a pair of matches, defeating host and No. 4 Penn State (3-1) before falling to then-No. 8 Minnesota (3-1).
• No. 18 BYU takes on a pair of league teams in the Pac-12 footprint, traveling to No. 18 UTAH on Thursday, then to the Bay Area to face Stanford on Saturday. Having faced each other for 44-consecutive seasons, the Utes are very familiar with the Cougars as the series includes over 100 matchups. The Cardinal also have familiarity with BYU after facing each other last season. BYU won the regular-season meeting in Provo, Utah, handing Stanford its only loss of the season. But the Cardinal returned the favor, defeating Utah in the national semifinal before winning it all. Both matches will be on Pac-12 Networks.
• Washington is 3-0 vs. top 25 teams this season, taking its first top-10 ranking of the season to No. 9 Wisconsin (FS1) on Thursday. The Badgers return the favor, heading to Seattle for a Pac-12 Networks match on Saturday.

PAC-12 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
• Leading Washington to three wins last week, senior Kara Bajema earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career. She was named MVP of the Bluejay Invitational after averaging 4.00 kills per set with a .316 attack percentage and 4.6 points per set. She needs just six more kills for 1,000 in her career
• USC’s Jasmine Gross and Kalen Owes also earned weekly nods after leading their squad to a 3-0 week. Gross claimed the weekly defensive honor, posting 16 blocks in three matches. She is the nation’s blocking leader at 2.06. Owes is the freshman weekly honoree after tallying 4.00 kills and 4.3 points per set, on .313 hitting.

WHAT’S TRENDING
• Pac-12 teams have compiled a 71-23 non-conference record through the first three weekends of the season. Nine of those wins have come against top-25 foes including Utah posting a pair of upsets in the opening weekend when it was unranked, Colorado’s top-five win against Illinois on Sept. 6 when it was unranked, Stanford winning three matches against top-seven teams, and Washington going 3-0 against top 25 teams so far.
• California is one of just 10 remaining undefeated teams in the country. The Bears are 8-0 for the first time since 2011. Heading into their home opener against Saint Mary’s (Calif.) this week, they have won five of the eight matches by 3-0.
• 28th-year head coach Dave Rubio has his Wildcats riding a five-match win streak after losing back-to-back contests on Aug. 31 and Sept. 6, which also included a 3-1 loss to then-No. 2 Nebraska. Since then, UA has lost just one set.
• Grad student Kory Cheshire missed all of last season because of an injury. This season, she has played in every match, starting in six, and is averaging 3.3 points and 0.93 blocks per set.
• Stanford’s first loss of the season came after the Cardinal put together a school-record 37-match win streak, which dated back to Sept. 1, 2018 and included a 6-0 run in last season’s NCAA Tournament to claim the national championship.
• With the return of senior middle blocker Berkeley Oblad who missed last season because of injury, Utah is the top blocking team in the country, averaging 3.36 stuffs per set, A big improvement over last season when the Utes averaged 2.26 bps.
• The No. 3 active career leader in the NCAA, Stanford senior and two-time AVCA National Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer is the Pac-12’s active career kills leader with over 1,500 kills (1,652), entering the top 40 in league history. USC senior Khalia Lanier is just over the 1,500-kills threshold (1,516) and is fifth among the NCAA’s active leaders in the category. They are two of just six active NCAA players with 1,500-career kills.
• Five from the Conference have over 1,000-career digs, all of which are seniors. Two-time Pac-12 Libero of the Year Morgan Hentz of Stanford has collected over 1,700 in her three seasons (1,811) to rank in the top 20 Pac-12 history and ranks eighth among the NCAA’s active leaders this season. Washington State’s Alexis Dirige, Washington’s Shayne McPherson, Utah’s Brianna Doehrmann and Arizona State’s Courtney Leffel have reached the threshold.
• Stanford’s Audriana Fitzmorris recorded her 500th block against Duke on Aug. 31 becoming just the 28th all-time in league history to hit the mark. She is one of three active in the NCAA have recorded 500-career blocks, ranking below USC’s Jasmine Gross, who has tallied 521 in her career, over 300 of those coming in her two years at Pepperdine.
• Eight AVCA All-Americans return from last year, including two-time AVCA National Player of the Year and Pac-12 Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer. She is one of just three Cardinal to earn multiple national player of the year nods and the first in the Conference since 2001 and 2002 (Logan Tom). Also back are 2018 first-team All-Americans Jenna Gray and Morgan Hentz (STAN). Second-team All-Americans on the court in 2019 are Brooke Botkin (USC), Dani Drews (UTAH), Audrianna Fitzmorris (STAN) and Ronika Stone (ORE), as well as third-team All-American Kara Bajema (WASH).
• 10 of the 14 players named to the 2018 All-Pac-12 team return for 2018, including two-time Pac-12 Setter of the Year Jenna Gray. 2018 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Raquel Lázaro was named to the Preseason All-Pac-12 team as voted on by the league’s coaches.
• The Pac-12 welcomes back California head coach Sam Crosson who comes to Berkeley after turning around a Cal Poly squad that made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2017 and 2018. Twice voted Big West Coach of the Year, he was an assistant coach on the 2010 team that made its only national championship match appearance in 2010.
• The most tenured coach in the Pac-12 is Arizona’s David Rubio who enters his 28th season and who’s contract was extended through 2023. He is just the second coach in league history to have recorded 500-career wins. Head coach Beth Lanier enters her 30th season at the Utah helm, recently leading her team to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
• Pac-12 volleyball continues to attract marquee student-athletes. Five Pac-12 teams landed at least one Volleyball Magazine FAB 50 recruit with Stanford leading the nation with five top-50 recruits. The Ducks landed three, which ties for second-most in the country. Twelve named to the list will be donning a Pac-12 uniform this season.

PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL BROADCASTS
• In 2019, 93 Pac-12 regular-season volleyball matches will be televised this season, by far the most of any conference in the nation. Of those, 90 appear on the Pac-12 Networks.
• ESPN will also televise three Pac-12 matches, a pair of Cardinal road contests at Oregon (Oct. 4, ESPN2) and at UCLA (Oct. 25, ESPNU). ESPN2 will also televise UCLA at Colorado on Oct. 13.
• For a full television schedule, visit pac-12.com.


UPCOMING SCHEDULE (All Times Specific to Site)

Tuesday, Sept. 17 TV/Stream Time
#14 OREGON at Princeton   7 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Sept.18    
#2 STANFORD at #1 Nebraska BTN 7 p.m. CT
UCLA at UC Santa Barbara   6 p.m. PT
Thursday, Sept. 19    
ARIZONA STATE at UNLV (1)   6:30 p.m. PT
Saint Mary's (Calif.) at #24 CALIFORNIA P12N 7 p.m. PT
#14 OREGON vs. St. John (N.Y.) (2)   7 p.m. ET
OREGON STATE at Northern Colorado (3)   7 p.m. MT
#20 USC at San Diego (4)   7 p.m. PT
#12 BYU at #18 UTAH P12N 6 p.m. MT
#10 WASHINGTON at #9 Wisconsin FS1 8 p.m. CT
Friday, Sept. 20    
Alabama State at ARIZONA (5) Live Stream 10 a.m. MT
New Mexico State at ARIZONA (5) Live Stream 7 p.m. MT
ARIZONA STATE vs. Kansas (1)   3:30 PT
Oakland at COLORADO (6) Live Stream 7 p.m. MT
#14 OREGON vs. Duke (2)   1 p.m. ET
#14 OREGON at Hofstra (2)   7 p.m. ET
OREGON STATE at Northern Colorado (3)   7 p.m. MT
#20 USC vs. Long Beach State (4)   4 p.m. PT
WASHINGTON STATE vs. Houston Baptist (7)   10 a.m. CT
WASHINGTON STATE at Texas Rio Grande Valley (7)   7 p.m. CT
Saturday Sept. 21    
Sacramento at ARIZONA (5) Live Stream 12 p.m. MT
#24 CALIFORNIA at Saint Mary's (Calif.)   5 p.m. PT
UMBC at COLORADO (6) Live Stream 12 p.m. PT
Campbell at COLORADO (6) Live Stream 7:30 p.m. PT
OREGON STATE vs. Cal Poly (3)   10 a.m. MT
#12 BYU at #2 STANFORD P12N 12 p.m. PT
#9 Wisconsin at #10 WASHINGTON P12N 6 p.m. PT
WASHINGTON STATE vs. Texas Southern (7)   11 a.m. CT

P12N indicates Pac-12 Networks; BTN indicates Big Ten Network; FS1 indicates Fox Sports 1.
1 - Rebel Challege, Las Vegas, Nev.; 2 - Hofstra Invitational, Hempstead N.Y.; 3 - Homewood Suites UNC/CSU Classic, Greeley, Colo.; 4 - USD Invitational, San Diego, Calif.; 5 - Wildcat Classic, Tucson, Ariz.; 6 - Colorado Classic, Boulder, Colo.; 7 - UTRGV Tournament, Edinburg, Texas


CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded standings)

Teams Pac-12 Record Overall Record
California 0-0 8-0
Washington State 0-0 8-1
Washington 0-0 7-1
Stanford 0-0 5-1
Utah 0-0 8-2
Arizona 0-0 7-2
Oregon State 0-0 6-2
Colorado 0-0 5-2
Arizona State 0-0 6-3
UCLA 0-0 5-3
USC 0-0 5-3
Oregon 0-0 2-3

PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

THIS WEEK: 
Offensive: Kara Bajema, Washington
Defensive: Jasmine Gross, USC
Freshman: Kalen Owes, USC

ALSO NOMINATED:
Offensive: Devyn Cross, ARIZ; Andrea Mitrovic, ASU; Mima Mirkovic, CAL; Jenna Ewert, COLO; Kory Cheshire, OSU; Audriana Fitzmorris, STAN; Mac May, UCLA; Raquel Lazaro, USC; Dani Drews, Utah; Pia Timmer, WSU.
Defensive: Kamaile Hiapo, ARIZ; Courtney Leffel, ASU; Emma Smith, CAL; Sterling Parker, COLO; Lindsey Schell, OSU; Morgan Hentz, STAN; Kelli Barry, UCLA; Phoebe Grace, Utah; Avie Niece, WASH; Magda Jehlarova, WSU.
Freshman: Kamaile Hiapo, ARIZ; Kennedi Boyd, ASU; Sterling Parker, COLO; Lexi Hadrych, UCLA; Magda Jehlarova, WSU.

2019 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

  Offensive Defensive Freshman
Sept. 2 Savannah Rennie, CAL Courtney Leffel, ASU Kylie Robinson, ORE
Sept. 9 Kathryn Plummer, STAN Meegan Hart, COLO Jill Schneggenburger, COLO
Sept. 16 Kara Bajema, WASH Jasmine Gross, USC Kalen Owes, USC

IN THE PRESEASON

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