Top 10 Above the Net

There is no movement this week in the five teams atop our national rankings, after the Huskers, Nittany Lions, Bruins, 'Horns and Huskies dropped nary a game in their matches. But making a move is Stanford, after the Cardinal thumped South Bay rival and highly ranked Santa Clara. This week is a big one to watch, with Pac-10 play starting - the conference currently owns five teams in the Top 10.

1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-0, 3-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking:  1

Results From Last Week:  Kansas (W, 3-0); at Oklahoma (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches:  Iowa State (W, 3-0); Texas Tech (Sat.)

Summary:  It was another ho-hum week for the Cornhuskers, as they dismantled Kansas and Oklahoma by identical 3-0 scores.  Dani Busboom has made the transition from setter to libero quite nicely, as the home-state girl leads the Big 12 in digs per game with 5.42 thus far in the season.  Sophomore Jordan Larson continues to establish herself as one of the top outside hitters in the country, providing Nebraska with a double-double of 17 kills and 11 digs in a 3-0 win over Oklahoma, the first match played outside of the NU Coliseum.  She also added a blistering five aces for good measure.  John Cook's crew had no trouble dispatching Iowa State in three games and should not face much of a challenge from Texas Tech or Creighton later in the week.

2. Penn State Nittany Lions (12-0, 1-0 Big 10)
Previous Ranking:  2

Results From Last Week:  Tennessee State (W, 3-0); West Virginia (W, 3-0); Miami, Ohio (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches:  Ohio State (W, 3-0); at Iowa (Fri.)

Summary:  One of the very few remaining teams to be undefeated this far into the season, Penn State concluded last weekend by capturing the Penn State Invitational with sweeps of Tennessee State, West Virginia, and Miami (Ohio).  Freshman setter Alisha Glass has exceeded expectations thus far, running the Nittany Lion offense without a hitch.  After averaging 12.11 assists and 1.00 blocks per game, the Michigan native was named the Most Valuable Player of the two-day event.  Fellow freshman outside hitter Megan Hodge and sophomore middle blocker Christa Harmotto also nabbed a spot on the All-Tournament team.  After taking out Ohio State in three straight to open up conference play, Penn State travels to Iowa Friday night.

3. UCLA Bruins (13-0, 0-0 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking:  3

Results From Last Week:  at Towson (W, 3-0); vs. Florida International (W, 3-0); vs. Long Island (W, 3-0); at Maryland (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches:  at Oregon (Thu.); at Oregon State (Fri.)

Summary:  Another tournament for UCLA, another MVP award for senior middle Nana Meriwether.  She picked up her third individual honor this past weekend, as UCLA won three matches in straights to take the Hilton Garden Inn Greenbelt Invitational, hosted by the University of Maryland.  Meriwether averaged 4.00 kills and 1.56 blocks per game, all while hitting above .500 for the weekend.  In addition, sophomores Nellie Spicer and Ali Daley also earned All-Tournament distinction for their efforts.  This week marks the beginning of the Pac-10 Conference, with the ever-improving Oregon and Oregon State first up for UCLA.

4. Texas Longhorns (7-2, 2-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking:  4

Results From Last Week:  Texas Tech (W, 3-0); at Kansas (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches:  Colorado (W, 3-0); at Missouri (Sat.)

Summary:  In the conference opener, senior bomber Dariam Acevedo lead the way for Texas, as her 15 kills powered her squad to an easy 3-0 triumph over visiting Texas Tech.  Freshman right side Ashley Engle chipped in 12 kills at a .473 clip and also added eight digs in the victory.  Against Kansas, setter Michelle Moriarty set up her teammates to the tune of a .458 hitting percentage, dishing out 43 assists in the process.  Four Longhorns had double digits in kills, lead by sophomore utility Lauren Paolini with 13, followed by Acevedo and Engle at 11 each.  Paolini also led the defensive effort up front with five blocks, while Alyson Jennings was her usual spectacular self in the back with 12 digs.  After dismantling Colorado Wednesday night, Texas faces a much stiffer test with Missouri on the road this Saturday.

5. Washington Huskies (10-1, 0-0 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking:  5

Results From Last Week:  at Fresno State (W, 3-0); at UC Davis (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches:  California (Thu.); Stanford (Fri.)

Summary:  The Huskies were not threatened this week when they traveled down to Northern California to take on Fresno State and UC Davis, respectively.  Both matches resulted in sweeps, with outside hitter Christal Morrison leading the way, making only three errors the entire weekend to go with an average of 4.5 kills per game at a .393 rate.  Junior middle blocker Alesha Deesing stepped up her game against the Bulldogs, downing 13 kills for a .750 clip and added four blocks to her game tally, while outside bomber Stevie Mussie had a game-high 17 kills against the Aggies.  Setter Courtney Thompson dished out 14.5 assists per game while enabling Washington to hit above .400 on both nights.  The real season for the Huskies begin on Thursday, when they open up Pac-10 competition.  The defending national champions first face a talented California team and then the title-contending Cardinal the following night.

6. Stanford Cardinal (9-1, 0-0 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking:  8

Results From Last Week:  Santa Clara (W, 3-0); Georgetown (W, 3-0); Saint Mary's (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches:  at Washington State (Thu.); at Washington (Fri.)

Summary:  Bryn Kehoe looked very impressive this past weekend after she helped guide the Cardinal to the Stanford Invitational title.  Her connection with middle blockers Foluke Akinradewo and Franci Girard is improving as the season progresses, and she made excellent decisions on her way to winning Co-MVP honors with sophomore outside hitter Cynthia Barboza.  Sophomore attacker Erin Waller showed off Stanford's depth at the antennas with an impressive performance against Georgetown, notching 12 kills at a .321 clip, while adding nine digs.  A victory over South Bay rival Santa Clara also did wonders for Stanford, as the Cardinal have appeared to have regrouped after the BYU loss a few weeks earlier.  Another tough test awaits the Cardinal & White, as Washington will host Stanford in one of the most anticipated matches in the opening weekend of conference action.

7. California Golden Bears (11-0, 0-0 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking:  9

Results From Last Week:  at Pacific (W, 3-2); Yale (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches:  at Washington (Thu.); at Washington State (Fri.)

Summary:  California found itself in deep trouble last Thursday against host Pacific.  After the first two games, the Golden Bears were in the position of getting swept by the home team, after dropping the first two games of the match.  However, California hit a combined .454 in the final three games to avoid the upset.  Angie Pressey and Hana Cutura once again led the offense with 23 and 20 kills, respectively, while senior playmaker Samantha Carter posted a season-high 61 assists.  The contest against Yale Saturday night was much less dramatic, with the Golden Bears attacking for a .430 hitting percentage while limiting the Bulldogs to just .160 overall.  Washington threatens California's unbeaten streak this Thursday, with Washington State waiting in the wings the following night.

8. Santa Clara Broncos (10-2, 0-0 WCC)
Previous Ranking:  6

Results From Last Week:  at San Jose State (W, 3-2); at Stanford (L, 3-0); vs. UC Irvine (W, 3-0); vs. Georgetown (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches:  Sacramento State (W, 3-1)

Summary:  After a disappointing three-game loss to rival Stanford on Thursday, Santa Clara bounced back nicely on Saturday by pulling double duty and defeating UC Irvine and Georgetown to finish off the Stanford Invitational.  Against the Anteaters, middles Anna Cmaylo and Megan Pura combined for 21 kills at an amazing .741 clip, all while sophomore outside Brittany Lowe chipped in with nine kills and nine digs in the easy victory.  Setter Crystal Matich handed out 38 assists on the way to having her team hit .427 against the Big West team.  In its only match of the week, Santa Clara outlasted visiting Sacramento State in four games, with senior Kim McGiven getting it done on the offensive end after her 27-kill performance.  Junior libero Caroline Walters had a match-high 24 digs for the SCU backline.

9. USC Trojans (11-0, 0-0 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking:  10

Results From Last Week:  at Pepperdine (W, 3-2); Purdue (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches:  at Oregon State (Thu.); at Oregon (Fri.)

Summary:  Asia Kaczor was named this week's Pac-10 Player of the Week after her recent performances against Pepperdine and Purdue.  She averaged 4.11 kills, 3.22 digs per game white attacking at a .351 clip.  Kaczor tallied a team-high 21 kills and 17 digs in the four-game victory over the Boilermakers, while chipping in 16 kills, second on the team only to Diane Copenhagen's 19 kills, against the Waves.  Middle blocker Bethany Johansen, who played last season for Kathy Gregory at UC Santa Barbara, had a solid week in the middle for the Trojans after averaging 2.44 kills and 1.44 blocks per game.  USC will open up Pac-10 play up in the Pacific Northwest, with matches against Oregon State and Oregon.

10. Florida Gators (9-2, 2-1 SEC)
Previous Ranking:  7

Results From Last Week:  at Florida State (W, 3-1); at Georgia (W, 3-0); at South Carolina (L, 3-1)
This Week's Matches:  Auburn (W, 3-0); Alabama (Sun.)

Summary:  While just a freshman, Elyse Cusack showed just how valuable she has become to the Gators.  The first-year libero has made a huge impact for Mary Wise and her team this season, making great defensive plays while stabilizing the passing rotation.  However, she was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her left foot, and without Cusack in the back passing nails for Florida, South Carolina took advantage of the situation and upset them in four games behind the Superwoman efforts of outside hitter Sholanda Cole.  Kisya Killingsworth, an All-American middle who is now manning the outside for the Gators, turned in an elite performance against the Gamecocks, posting 23 kills and 20 digs - the first time since the 2002 season that someone from the Florida program turned in a 20-kill, 20-dig outing.  Florida quickly bounced back with a swift victory over Auburn Wednesday night, with junior setter Angie McGinnis assisting on 34 kills while leading her team to an overall .303 attacking rate.  Alabama awaits Florida this Sunday.

11. Purdue Boilermakers (10-1, 0-0 Big 10)
Previous Ranking:  12

Results From Last Week:  at USC (L, 3-1); at Pepperdine (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches:  at Michigan State (Fri.); at Michigan (Sat.)

12. BYU Cougars (10-1, 2-0 MWC)
Previous Ranking:  14

Results From Last Week:  at Utah State (W, 3-0); Air Force (W, 3-0); Colorado State (W, 3-2)
This Week's Matches:  at San Diego State (Thu.); at UNLV (Sat.)

13. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1, 0-1 Big 10)
Previous Ranking:  15

Results From Last Week:  IPFW (W, 3-0); Youngstown State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches:  at Penn State (L, 3-0); at Iowa (Sat.)

14. Wisconsin Badgers (9-2, 0-0 Big 10)
Previous Ranking:  11

Results From Last Week:  vs. UC Santa Barbara (L, 3-0); vs. Brown (W, 3-0); at San Diego (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches:  at Illinois (Fri.); at Northwestern (Sat.)

15. Tennessee Lady Vols (10-2, 1-1 SEC)
Previous Ranking:  13

Results From Last Week:  LSU (L, 3-2); Arkansas (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches:  Louisville (W, 3-1); at Mississippi (Fri.); at Mississippi State (Sun.)

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