Top 10 Above the Net

The top three held their ground, while preseason #4 Texas lost twice. We also get our first look at the Players of the Week from around the country.

1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-0)
Previous Ranking: 1

Results From Last Week: AVCA College Volleyball Showcase – vs. Tennessee (W, 3-0); vs. UCLA (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: Holiday Inn Downtown Classic – vs. Creighton (Fri.); vs. Penn State (Sun.); vs. Cal Poly (Mon.)

Summary: The defending national champions began their title defense in fine fashion this past weekend, capturing the AVCA Showcase in Omaha, Neb. First up, Nebraska used visiting Tennessee as target practice, holding them to a dismal 0.088 hitting percentage and never letting them earn more than 19 points in the three-game sweep. In winning the program's 1,000th match overall, the Cornhuskers had five players hitting over .400, led by AVCA Player of the Year Sarah Pavan and AVCA First Team All-American Jordan Larson with 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Against the Bruins, Rachel Holloway continued to set a diverse attack, dishing out 61 assists while enabling five hitters to tally at least 10 kills. Again, Pavan was the top weapon of choice, hammering out 25 kills from the right side while also pitching in 12 digs. While former AVCA Player of the Year Christina Houghtelling struggled to find her hitting groove, she averaged an impressive 5.00 digs per game over the weekend. Nebraska next hosts the Holiday Inn Downtown Classic beginning on Friday, featuring an in-state rival Creighton, national power Penn State, and 2006 Big West Champion Cal Poly.

2. Stanford Cardinal (1-0)
Previous Ranking: 2

Results From Last Week: at Long Beach State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Diet Coke Classic – vs. San Diego (Fri.); at Minnesota (Sat.); vs. Ohio (Sun.)

Summary: Playing in front of hometown family and friends, outside hitter Cynthia Barboza helped Stanford sweep Long Beach State to open up the 2007 season. Barboza's powerful swings from the outside left the 49ers on their heels, as she racked up 18 kills on a .484 hitting percentage to go along with her team-leading 10 digs, one block, and one service ace. In addition to dishing out 45 assists and setting the team to a .427 clip, senior Bryn Kehoe played incredible defense to the tune of 10 digs and three blocks. Heralded freshman Alix Klineman had a solid outing for the Cardinal, with seven kills, seven digs, two blocks, and one service ace and will only get stronger as the season forges on. Next week, Stanford heads to the Midwest to compete against some stiff competition, highlighted by Minnesota and its fabulous freshman class.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions (2-0)
Previous Ranking: 3

Results From Last Week: vs. Texas (W, 3-1); vs. Texas (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: Holiday Inn Downtown Classic – vs. Cal Poly (Friday); at Nebraska (Sunday)

Summary: In one of the most anticipated matchups this season, Penn State hosted Texas not once, but twice this weekend and came away victorious both times. In both matches, outsides Nicole Fawcett and Megan Hodge did a majority of the damage, throwing down 59% of the Nittany Lions kill tally for the weekend. While Fawcett and Hodge were the main offensive outlets for setter Alisha Glass, middle blocker Christa Harmotto was as impressive putting the ball away as she was protecting the net. She averaged 3.50 kills on a .535 clip, while also turning away 1.25 attacks per game. While neither team played particularly well in the two heavyweight matchups, Penn State was able to gain the upper hand thanks to good passing and the integration of Harmotto into the offensive scheme. While Cal Poly will be a tough matchup for Penn State next weekend at the Nebraska Labor Day, the marquee match-up for volleyball fans everywhere will be Nebraska on Sunday.

4. USC Trojans (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 7

Results From Last Week: Trojan Invitational – vs. Michigan State (W, 3-0); vs. St. John's (W, 3-1); vs. Loyola Marymount (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: USC Classic Tournament – vs. Cal State Northridge (Thu.); vs. Duke (Fri.); vs. Mercer (Sat.)

Summary: Last season, Southern California had a powerful lineup at the antennas, but lacked a true presence in the middle to contend for a Final Four berth. Enter Zoe Garrett, a 6-2 product out of nearby Laguna Beach (Calif.) who was the starting middle blocker for the U.S. Junior National Team and with good reason – she's a shut-down blocker and a terminal hitter. For the weekend, she averaged 2.60 kills and 1.10 blocks per game while putting up a team-high .368 hitting percentage and she will only get stronger as the season goes on. Asia Kaczor picked up where she left off last year, as the 2006 AVCA All-American racked up 4.10 kills per game at a .366 clip in guiding the Trojans to a 3-0 start and the tournament title at the Trojan Invitational. USC again hosts its own tournament this weekend, with a showdown with 2006 ACC Champions Duke as the featured match.

5. Florida Gators (2-0)
Previous Ranking: 5

Results From Last Week: at Illinois State (W, 3-0); at Notre Dame (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: Campus USA Credit Union Invitational – vs. Georgia Southern (Fri.); vs. N.C. State (Fri.); vs. Santa Clara (Sat.)

Summary: With a four-member senior class leading the way, this is the time for Florida to shine and deliver head coach Mary Wise a much-deserved national title. However, the Gators will need to turn up their intensity quite a bit after a lackluster performance on opening weekend. After an easy win against Illinois State to open the season, Florida had difficulty against Notre Dame. Passing issues caused problems throughout the night and setter Angie McGinnis found it difficult to connect with her middle blockers Kelsey Bowers, Kristina Johnson, and Kisya Killingsworth. On a positive note, outside hitter Marci Hampton was a rock at the antennas for Florida, registering a double-double of 20 kills and 16 digs, while Elyse Cusack had a match-high 25 digs. The good news for Gator fans is there is plenty of time to work out the kinks before December, starting with their own tournament this weekend.

6. UCLA Bruins (1-1)
Previous Ranking: 6

Results From Last Week: AVCA College Volleyball Showcase – vs. Utah (W, 3-0); at Nebraska (L, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic – vs. Louisville (Fri.); vs. Kansas State (Sun.); at Hawai'i (Mon.)

Summary: With the graduation of All-Americans Nana Meriwether and Katie Carter, many wondered if the Bruins would be able to continue to compete with the elite programs this season. The fact that UCLA was able to take a game off of Nebraska, the defending national champions, proved that this team is still a formidable opponent. Missing some main components from its lineup, the Bruins still displayed some great floor defense and pinpoint passing that enabled setter Nellie Spicer to showcase her impressive skills and make the case that she is the best setter in the nation. For the weekend, the 5-11 junior averaged 13.00 assists, 4.14 digs, and 1.00 blocks per game to led the Blue and Gold. Junior outside hitter Ali Daley stepped up her production from the previous season to give notice that she is looking for All-American recognition, averaging 4.29 kills and 4.43 digs per game. UCLA looks to defend its title on the Islands, as it competes in the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic for the 20th straight year.

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

Results From Last Week: at Penn State (L, 3-1); at Penn State (L, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: Houston Invitational – at Houston (Fri.); vs. New Mexico State (Sat.)

Summary: No one will dispute that Texas is talented. No one will argue that the Longhorns are tall – very tall. What people will debate is just how well Jerritt Elliot & Co. will fare in the NCAA Tournament. Although offense can be generated at any moment when you have the likes of 6-4 Destinee Hooker on one end and 6-3 Ashley Engle on the other, defense is surprisingly non-existent and the number of balls hit out or into the net can rack up in a hurry. For a team with such height, Texas is maddeningly inconsistent with its block; in the first match of the season against Penn State, the Longhorns averaged a respectable 3.13 blocks per game; the following night, they only managed a measly 1.75 blocks per game. While there are still pieces to the championship puzzle that need to be worked out, the offensive abilities of Hooker will always be a highlight. She averaged a team-leading 4.00 kills per game this past week, followed closely by freshman wunderkind Julianne Faucette who had 3.50 kills per. Texas will try to bounce back when it participates in the Houston Invitational over Labor Day Weekend.

8. Wisconsin Badgers (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 8

Results From Last Week: InnTowner Invitational – UW-Milwaukee (W, 3-0); Gardner-Webb (W, 3-0); Syracuse (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: BYU Molten Classic – at BYU (Fri.); vs. Northern Iowa (Sat.); vs. American (Sat.)

Summary: The competition might not have been top-notch, but Wisconsin was still able to receive a quality workout on its way to winning its own InnTowner Invitational for the 13th time in 16 tries. AVCA All-American Jackie Simpson was awarded the MVP crown after distributing the ball so well this weekend, as seven Badgers averaged at least 2.00 kills per game in three victories. The 6-0 senior notched 14.00 assists, 3.00 digs, and 1.00 blocks per game. Outside hitter Brittney Dolgner was the leading attacker, powering down 4.88 kills per game on her way to a berth on the all-tournament team. Senior Jocelyn Wack also found her way onto the all-tourney squad after defending the back row to the tune of 5.44 digs per game, including a weekend-high 20-dig performance against Syracuse. The competition only gets stiffer from here on out, starting with the BYU Molten Classic beginning this Friday.

9. Washington Huskies (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 9

Results From Last Week: Husky Classic – vs. San Francisco (W, 3-0); vs. Fresno State (W, 3-0); vs. Cal State Northridge (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Gonzaga Tournament – at Gonzaga (Fri.); vs. Boise State (Sat.); vs. Morgan State (Sat.)

Summary: While head coach Jim McLaughlin is going to depend a lot on his All-American superstar Christal Morrison this season, he can take comfort in the fact that he'll have plenty of players to turn to after the 2006 Pac-10 Player of the Year graduates. Redshirt freshman Becky Perry and true freshman Kindra Carlson lit up the competition, combing for 57 kills and 16 blocks in three matches, while hitting at a combined .490 clip. While the two youngsters were getting it done offensively, redshirt sophomore Tamari Miyashiro made sure that the Huskies floor defense did not suffer, averaging 5.56 digs per game, including a match-high 25 digs in a three-game victory against Fresno State. Washington continues its cupcake preseason schedule with an instate trip to Spokane (Wash.) to participate in the Gonzaga Tournament.

10. California Golden Bears (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 11

Results From Last Week: California Molten Classic – vs. Idaho (W, 3-0); vs. Northeastern (W, 3-0); vs. Florida International (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Colorado Invitational – vs. Central Florida (Fri.); vs. UNC-Wilmington (Sat.); at Colorado (Sun.)

Summary: California started off its season with a bang, hosting and winning the California Molten Classic. Senior Angie Pressey captured MVP honors after putting together an efficient performance over the weekend, hitting .441 while downing a team-leading 3.88 kills per game. Middle blocker Ellen Orchard and setter Carli Lloyd earned spots on the All-Tournament team, but for different reasons. Orchard was an absolute wall for the Golden Bears, turning away 2.69 attacks per game, highlighted by a 10-block effort against Florida International. Lloyd, who showed no nerves stepping into the position vacated by four-year starter Sam Carter, ran the Cal offense to perfection, averaging 11.00 assists per game while guiding her squad to a .270 hitting percentage. California will look to win its second straight tournament when it travels to Colorado next weekend to compete in the Colorado Invitational.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-0)
Previous Ranking: 12

Results From Last Week: at Notre Dame (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Diet Coke Classic – vs. Ohio (Fri.); vs. Stanford (Sat.); vs. San Diego (Sun.)

12. Cal Poly Mustangs (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 10

Results From Last Week: Shocker Volleyball Classic – vs. Kansas State (L, 3-2); vs. North Texas (W, 3-0); at Wichita State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Holiday Inn Downtown Classic – vs. Penn State (Fri.); vs. Creighton (Sun.); at Nebraska (Mon.)

13. San Diego Toreros (1-0)
Previous Ranking: NR

Results From Last Week: at Long Beach State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Fairfield (W, 3-0); Diet Coke Classic – vs. Stanford (Fri.); vs. Ohio (Sat.); at Minnesota (Sun.)

14. Purdue Boilermakers (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 13

Results From Last Week: Duke Invitational – vs. Winthrop (W, 3-1); vs. East Carolina (W, 3-0); at Duke (L, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: Mortar Board Premier – vs. Dayton (Fri.); vs. North Carolina (Sat.); vs. Utah (Sat.)

15. Michigan Wolverines (3-0)
Previous Ranking: NR

Results From Last Week: ASICS Rainbow Wahine Invitational - at Hawai'i (W, 3-2 ); vs. Oregon State (W, 3-0); vs. Colorado State (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: Miami (Ohio) University Invitational – at Miami (Fri.); vs. Pittsburgh (Sat.); vs. Wake Forest (Sat.)

Dropped Out: Hawai'i (14); Long Beach State (15)

Player of the Week Honors


Sarah Pavan, Nebraska, 6-5, OPP, Sr.

  • vs. Tennessee – 14 kills, .417 hitting percentage, four blocks two aces, and two digs
  • vs. UCLA – 25 kills, 12 digs, three blocks, and one ace
  • For the Week – 5.57 kills, two digs, and one block per game; .382 hitting percentage

Big 10 Conference:

Christa Harmotto, Penn State, 6-2, MB, Jr.

  • vs. Texas – 15 kills, .545 hitting percentage, and six blocks
  • vs. Texas – 13 kills, .534 hitting percentage, four blocks and two digs
  • For the Week – 3.50 kills and 1.25 blocks per game; .535 hitting percentage

Anne Mastandrea, Purdue 5-5, L, Sr. (Co-Defensive)

  • vs. Winthrop – 31 digs
  • vs. East Carolina – 23 digs
  • vs. Duke – 29 digs
  • For the Week – 7.55 digs per game

Stesha Selsky, Michigan, 5-10, L, Sr. (Co-Defensive)

  • vs. Hawai'i – 24 digs and five aces
  • vs. Oregon State – 20 digs
  • vs. Colorado State – 25 digs
  • For the Week – 5.75 digs and 0.42 aces per game

Big 12 Conference:

Sarah Pavan, Nebraska, 6-5, OPP, Sr. (Offensive)

Christina Houghtelling, Nebraska, 6-2, OH, R-Sr. (Defensive)

  • vs. Tennessee – Eight kills and 12 digs, four blocks, and two aces
  • vs. UCLA – 10 kills, 23 digs, two blocks and one ace
  • For the Week – 2.57 kills, 5.00 digs, 0.86 blocks, and 0.43 aces per game.

Big West Conference:

Lauren McLaughlin, UC Santa Barbara, 5-11, OH, Jr.

  • vs. San Diego State – 22 kills, 12 digs, and one block
  • vs. Long Island – 19 kills, 10 digs, six blocks, and one ace
  • vs. Fairfield – 27 kills, 11 digs, and six blocks
  • For the Week – 5.23 kills, 2.54 digs, and 1.00 blocks per game

Pac-10 Conference: Did not announce

Southeast Conference:

Jessica Dorrell, Arkansas, 6-1, OH, Sr. (Offensive)

  • vs. Georgia Tech – 19 kills, .300 hitting percentage, six digs, and one block
  • vs. Pittsburgh – 13 kills, .400 hitting percentage, eight digs, three blocks, and one ace
  • vs. Pepperdine – 26 kills, .340 hitting percentage, 14 digs, four blocks, and three aces
  • For the Week – 4.83 kills, 2.33 digs, and 1.00 block per game; .339 hitting percentage

Leah Hinkley, Tennessee, 6-1, MB, Sr. (Defensive)

  • vs. Nebraska – Six kills and one dig
  • vs. Utah – Eight kills, 13 blocks, and six digs
  • For the Week – 1.62 kills and 1.62 blocks per game

West Coast Conference:

Amy DeGroot, San Diego 6-2, OH, Soph.

  • vs. Long Beach State – 17 kills, .389 hitting percentage, 10 digs, and two blocks

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