Stanford still atop Pac-12 volleyball standings as big matchups are slated this week
SAN FRANCISCO - With just three weeks left before the NCAA makes its selections announcement, every team in the Pac-12 is looking to make moves and impress the committee. No. 4 STANFORD welcomed back two-time AVCA National Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer last week as the Cardinal continue to sit in first place in the Pac-12 standings. No. 20 CALIFORNIA, No. 15 UTAH, No. 13 WASHINGTON and No. 22 WASHINGTON STATE are deadlocked in second place behind the Cardinal. The Bay Area teams stay home to host the LA schools who are tied for sixth in the Pac-12. The Huskies and Cougars host COLORADO and Utah this week and will try to break up log jam. The Buffs have begun to turn things around since getting off to a slow start to open the season, winning three their last four matches. Each of these teams will be on Pac-12 Networks at least once this weekend.
ARIZONA heads to OREGON for a match on Pac-12 Networks, as well, for a rematch of the Oct. 27 meeting which had the Wildcats claiming a 3-1 victory.
• There are five teams ranked in the AVCA Coaches poll this week with the Cardinal (No. 4, one first-place vote), WASHINGTON (No. 13) and UTAH (No. 15). CALIFORNIA is at No. 20 for the second-straight week and WASHINGTON STATE moved up two positions to No. 22. UCLA and USC are receiving votes.
• At least five teams have been ranked in the AVCA poll every week this season with 10 different schools earning at top-25 ranking at some point during the season.
• 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.
• NCAA RPI: The Pac-12 has seven teams in the top 40 RPI, the most of any conference. Eleven of the teams area also have RPI in the top 100. The Cardinal (#5), Washington (#9), Utah (#16), USC (#20) and UCLA (#23) all boast RPI in the top 25 (as of Nov. 11).
WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK
• Stanford is looking for its 19th Pac-12 title and heads into the week with a two-match cushion. Looking to solidify its spot, it hosts the LA schools which sit in a tie for sixth. UCLA and USC are looking to boost their resumes for NCAA Committee considerations, which also includes seeding prospects.
• As has been the case the last few weeks, it has been tight in second place with four teams locked up for that spot. With matches between Utah and the Pacific Northwest teams, there is guarantee for some shake up. Both those matches will be top-25 clashes with national implications, as well.
NCAA’S TOP 10 REVEAL
• The NCAA DI college volleyball committee revealed its top 10 on Sunday, Nov. 3. The reveal gives a first glance at potential teams competing for top seed positions in the upcoming 2019 Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship tournament. Despite playing without two-time national player of the year Kathryn Plummer, Stanford was tabbed No. 4 and Washington appeared at No. 7 with big wins over that Cardinal and twice versus Wisconsin.
• With still four weeks remaining in the regular season, the committee will continue deliberations until the NCAA Tournament selection show which is scheduled for Sunday, December 1 at 8:30 pm ET/5:30 p.m. PT on ESPNU.
WHERE THEY RANK
• Stanford and California rank in the top five in the country in two statistical categories. The Cardinal are the third-ranked team in the country in assists per set (13.82), led by senior setter Jenna Gray’s 11.61 assists per set which ranks sixth in the NCAA. The Cardinal also boast the fourth-best kills per set in the country at 14.68. Winning more overall and league matches than all of last season, California has the fourth-best hitting percentage in the nation at .297.
• The Pac-12 has five of the top-30 blocking teams in the country. The Cardinal (12th, 2.80), Washington (15th, 2.77) and Washington State (18th, 2.67) rank in the top 20, leading the way for the Conference, with USC (27th, 2.57) and Utah (28th, 2.56) appearing in the top 30.
• USC’s Khalia Lanier is the only student-athlete in the Conference to rank among the top 10 in two statistical categories in the NCAA. She is sixth and eighth in kills per set (5.07) and points per set (5.52), respectively, also leading the Pac-12 in both those categories. Gray, Washington State’s Magda Jehlarova (4th, 1.56 bps) and Arizona’s Devyn Cross (7th, .420) also appear in the top 10 in there respective categories.
• The Conference also boasts four of the nation’s offensive producers with Lanier leading the way. UCLA’s Mac May is 11th in the country with a 5.32 points average, followed by Utah’s Dani Drews (15th pps, 15th), and Washington’s Kara Bajema (23rd, 4.96 pps).
• As a Conference, the Pac-12 boasts the best hitting percentage of any league at .242. Collectively, the 12 teams also lead the nation in kills per set (13.21), assists per set (12.21), blocks per set (2.36), and second in points per set (16.04).
PAC-12 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
• For the second-consecutive week, USC’s Khalia Lanier is voted Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after she recorded the first 40-kill match in the 25-point rally-scoring era of women's volleyball while also hitting an incredible .390 hitting in a five-set loss to Utah. The 40 kills is also fifth-most in Pac-12 history. She helped the Trojans bounce back with 33 kills in a win over Colorado.
• Senior Alexis Dirige cracked the top 10 of the Pac-12 career digs records, en route to helping the Cougs sweep Oregon for the first time since 2003.
• Utah’s Zoe Weatherington had back-to-back double-figure kill nights to help the Utes to a pair of road victories.
• After missing all of October and five weeks in total due to injury, Stanford’s two-time National and Pac-12 Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer returned to the court on Nov. 7 at Arizona State, then put up 15 kills on 22 swings at Arizona two days later. Plummer missed matches from Oct. 4-Nov. 3, before returning. During her absence, the Cardinal still went 9-1 and took control of first place in the Pac-12.
• Arizona's Julia Patterson became the first Power 5 Conference player to record a triple-double this season in a hard-fought five-set loss at No. 17 Utah. The senior setter had 46 assists, 13 digs and a career-most 10 kills in the match. The triple-double was the first in her career and the first by a Wildcat in at least 10 years.
• With five teams in the AVCA poll this week, and 10 teams in all receiving rankings at one point or another during the season, the potential for upsets are great. So far this season, league teams have registered 16 upsets (based on national polling at the time of the meeting). The first week of league action was explosive, with five of those upsets. Nov. 1 was a thrilling evening with unranked Oregon upending No. 20 California; then-No. 25 UCLA taking down then-No. 22 Washington State; and unranked USC defeating then-No. 12 Washington.
• California has eclipsed its overall wins and league wins from a year ago when it went 15-16 and 7-13 in the Pac-12, posting its first 20-win campaign since 2011.
• Washington State continues to produce significant milestone, its most recent is recording its first sweep of USC since 1986. Earlier this season, WSU’s home sweep of the Oregon schools was the first time it had knocked off both teams since 2002 at Bohler Gym. It completed the regular-season sweep of both the Oregon teams, marking the first time WSU has accomplished that since 2002. WSU has posted back-to-back 20-win campaigns for the first time since 1996 and 1997.
• After starting league play at 2-0 for the first time since 2004, Oregon State doubled its league win total from last year after going 1-19 in 2018, and has three wins so far this season.
• 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. Its second loss of the season to Washington on Sept. 29 snapped a 26-match winning streak against Pac-12 teams.
• Utah’s pair of top-25 wins to open the season is the first time it had beaten two AVCA ranked teams in the opening weekend in program history, with wins over then-No. 7 Kentucky (3-0) and then-No. 23 Cal Poly (3-2). It also beat Saint Mary’s (3-0)in the true season opener for the season’s first match.
• Stanford’s Jenna Gray hit the 5,000-career assists milestone, the only active player in the NCAA to hit the milestone. She also became just the 15th player in Pac-12 history and the fourth Cardinal to record 5,000 career assists.
• USC’s Khalia Lanier became the 26th player in Pac-12 history, and just the third at USC, to record 1,800 career kills. She is third among active NCAA leaders this season with 1,880 kills and is on the verge of becoming just the 15th player in league history with 1,900 kills. Two-time AVCA National Player of the Year Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer was back on the court after missing action for five weeks. She is in the top 35 in Pac-12 history in career kills with 1,743.
• Two-time Pac-12 Libero of the Year, Stanford’s Morgan Hentz ranks currently sits seventh in Pac-12 history in career digs with 2,104. She also ranks seventh among the NCAA’s active leaders and needs just 43 digs to break the Stanford record. Washington State’s Alexis Dirige cracked the top 10 in the Pac-12 record books, ranking 10th all-time with 2,047. She became just the 14th player in league history to reach over 2,000 digs and ranks ninth among the NCAA’s active career leaders.
• 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, breaking into the all-time top 20 (566) and currently tying for 16th. She is one of five active in the NCAA have recorded 500-career blocks, ranking below USC’s Jasmine Gross, who has tallied 607 in her career, over 300 of those coming in her two years at Pepperdine. She is one of just two in the NCAA actively on the court with 600 career blocks. Utah’s Berkeley Oblad ranks eighth among the NCAA’s active leaders with 474 career blocks, ranking in the top 40 in the Pac-12 record book.
• Pac-12 teams compiled a 89-32 non-conference record and a 73.6 winning percentage. Thirteen of those wins came 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; Washington sweeping Wisconsin who was ranked in the top 10 and going 5-0 against top 25 teams; and Stanford winning four matches against top-seven teams.
• 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 welcomed back California head coach Sam Crosson who came 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. He has led the Golden Bears to their best start since 2011.
• The most tenured coach in the Pac-12 is Arizona’s David Rubio who is in 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 Launiere is in 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.
• ESPN also televised 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)
|Friday, Nov. 15||TV/Stream||Time|
|Arizona at Oregon||P12A, P12O||7 p.m. PT|
|Arizona State at Oregon State||Live Stream||7 p.m. PT|
|Colorado at #13 Washington||P12M, P12W||8 p.m. PT|
|UCLA at #20 California||Live Stream||2 p.m. PT|
|USC at #4 Stanford||P12LA||6 p.m. PT|
|#15 Utah at #22 Washington State||P12W||6 p.m. PT|
|Sunday, Nov. 17|
|Arizona at Oregon State||P12O||12 p.m. PT|
|Arizona State at Oregon||Live Stream||1 p.m. PT|
|Colorado at #22 Washington State||Live Stream||12 p.m. PT|
|UCLA at #4 Stanford||P12BA||12 p.m. PT|
|USC at #20 California||P12LA||12 p.m. PT|
|#15 Utah at #13 Washington||Live Stream||1 p.m. PT|
P12N/P12A/P12BA/P12LA/P12M/P12O/P12W - Indicates live broadcast on Pac-12 Network.
PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive: Khalia Lanier, USC
Defensive: Alexis Dirige, Washington State
Freshman: Zoe Weatherington, Utah
Offensive: Andrea Mitrovic, ASU; Maddie Haynes, CAL; Jenna Ewert, COLO; Haylie Bennett, OSU; Meghan McClure, STAN; Mac May, UCLA; Dani Drews, UTAH; Kara Bajema, WASH.
Defensive: Courtney Leffel, ASU; Gabby Bellizzi, CAL; Rachel Whipple, COLO; Grace Massey, OSU; Morgan Hentz, STAN; Sabrina Smith, UCLA; Raegan LeGrand, USC; Brianna Doehrmann, UTAH; Avie Niece, WASH.
Freshman: Elissa Alcantara, COLO; Lexi Hadrych, UCLA; Emilia Weske, USC; Alexcis Lusby, WSU.
2019 PAC-12 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK