Top 10 Above the Net

The top seven held their ground, even after a weekend of tough matches. Stanford's Alix Klineman joins the ranks of the Players of the Week from around the country.

1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-0)
Previous Ranking: 1

Results From Last Week: Holiday Inn Downtown Classic – vs. Creighton (W, 3-0); vs. Penn State (W, 3-0); vs. Cal Poly (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Ameritas Players Challenge – vs. Duke (Fri.); vs. New Mexico State/Louisville (Sat.)

Summary: After dismantling two of the top squads in the country, Nebraska left no doubt in anyone's mind that they are the overwhelming favorite to repeat as national champions come December. After All-Americans Sarah Pavan and Jordan Larson combined for 33 kills to easily tame in-state rival Creighton, Nebraska was ready for a colossal showdown East Coast power Penn State. However, the Cornhuskers dominated the Nittany Lions in all facets of the game and came away with a convincing sweep of the defending Big 10 champions. While an underrated Nebraska defense held Penn State to an anemic .134 hitting percentage, it was its offense that overpowered the visitors. Four players hit double digits in kills, led by the duo of Pavan and Larson who combined for 23 kills. Outside hitter Christina Houghtelling and middle blocker Kori Cooper also chipped in with 10 kills apiece. What was supposed to be another difficult test for Nebraska turned out to be nothing more than a walk in the park against Cal Poly, as Pavan notched 17 kills in the surprisingly easy sweep over the Mustangs. Setter Rachel Holloway, Larson, and Houghtelling were all named to the All-Tournament squad, while Pavan took home the MVP honors. Nebraska returns to action on Friday at its own Ameritas Players Challenge, playing host to Duke, New Mexico State, and Louisville.

2. Stanford Cardinal (4-0)
Previous Ranking: 2

Results From Last Week: Diet Coke Classic – vs. San Diego (W, 3-0); at Minnesota (W, 3-1); vs. Ohio (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Stanford Invitational – vs. Saint Mary's (Thu.); vs. Cal Poly (Fri.); vs. BYU (Sat.)

Summary: With the exception of a one-game hiccup, the Cardinal came away from the weekend relatively unscathed, sporting a 3-0 record to capture the Diet Coke Classic. While her stats were not eye-popping, outside hitter Cynthia Barboza was named the Tournament MVP for her solid overall play, affecting the match from the service line, up at the net, and from the back row. Middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo and outside hitter Alix Klineman were also named to the All-Tournament team after dominating the competition at their respective positions. Akinradewo was the most efficient attacker for Stanford, hitting .483 in three matches, with a season-high .706 (13 kills) coming against Ohio, while Klineman had the most kills in all three contests, averaging 4.80 kills per game. Libero Gabi Ailes also made solid contributions on the defensive end for Stanford and was the difference maker in the victory over Minnesota with tough serving and instinctive backcourt defense. Stanford hosts its own tournament this week with tough matchups coming from Saint Mary's (Calif.), Cal Poly, and BYU.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1)
Previous Ranking: 3

Results From Last Week: Holiday Inn Downtown Classic – vs. Cal Poly (W, 3-0); at Nebraska (L, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Penn State Classic – vs. St. John's (Thu.); vs. Colgate (Fri.); vs. Virginia Commonwealth (Fri.)

Summary: Even though she earned AVCA First Team All-American honors last season, Nicole Fawcett seemed to live in the shadow of teammate Megan Hodge, the precocious outside hitter who was the first freshman to ever capture Big 10 Player of the Year honors. However, Fawcett reminded everyone what a dominant player she can be, as her career-high 31 kills helped Penn State overcome a feisty Cal Poly in five games last Friday in the Holiday Inn Downtown Classic. The 6-3 left-side hitter hit an amazing .414 clip and also tossed in four blocks and one ace. Middle blockers Christa Harmotto and Melissa Walbridge teamed up for 25 kills and 11 blocks out of the middle to help balance out the Nittany Lion attack, while libero Roberta Holehouse dug a season-high 22 attacks to pace the back-row efforts. Two days later, Penn State was overwhelmed by host Nebraska, dropping three games without much of a fight. Passing woes limited the offensive options for setters Alisha Glass and Jessica Yanz, as the ball was directed to the outside 65% of the time with minimal success. Hodge was the leading hitter for Penn State with 15 kills, while Harmotto chipped in 11 kills and six blocks. Harmotto was later named to the All-Tournament team for her solid play all weekend. Next up is the Penn State Classic, where victories over St. John's, Colgate, and Virginia Commonwealth are almost a guarantee.

4. USC Trojans (6-0)
Previous Ranking: 4

Results From Last Week: USC Classic Tournament – vs. Cal State Northridge (W, 3-0); vs. Duke (W, 3-2); vs. Mercer (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Pepperdine (Wed.); at Utah (Fri.)

Summary: With middle blocker Zoe Garrett unavailable to play for most of the weekend due to the flu, Southern California still came away with the championship crown of its own USC Classic Tournament, though it had to survive a tough five-set match against up-and-coming Duke. Without the offensive presence of Garrett, head coach Mick Haley relied solely on the attack on the antennas, as the trio of Asia Kaczor, Diane Copenhagen, and Jessica Gysin accounted for 78% of the kills against the Blue Devils. While the outsides were the main source of offensive output, the defense was a more balanced effort as five players registered double digits in digs with setter Taylor Carico leading the charge with 14 saves. In USC's two other tournament wins, freshman Kimmee Roleder established her position as a future star as she was the leading attacker against Cal State Northridge and Mercer, with 14 and 17 kills, respectively. Southern California continues its preseason schedule on Wednesday when it hosts Pepperdine before jetting off to Salt Lake City to take on Utah on Friday.

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

Results From Last Week: Campus USA Credit Union Invitational – vs. Georgia Southern (W, 3-0); vs. N.C. State (W, 3-0); vs. Santa Clara (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Florida State (Wed.); at Utah (Sun.)

Summary: The Gators hosted the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational this past weekend and thoroughly dominated the competition, sweeping all three matches. Led by MVP Angie McGinnis and her 12.42 assists per game average, Florida hit over .300 on the weekend, including a .420 clip against North Carolina State. Outside hitter Marci Hampton and libero Elyse Cusack joined McGinnis in garnering all-tourney accolades. Hampton, averaging 4.20 kills, 2.80 digs, and 0.80 aces per game, was a steadying force on the left side, making great hitting decision up at the net while playing a solid role in serve receive. Cusack was a consistent digging machine this weekend after compiling 50 saves in nine games, in addition to adding five aces to her stat line. Complementing Cusack up front was the big blocking presence of Kelsey Bowers, who rejected 1.57 attacks per game. Florida hosts in-state rival Florida State on Wednesday before heading to Salt Lake City to battle Utah on Sunday.

6. UCLA Bruins (4-1)
Previous Ranking: 6

Results From Last Week: Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic – vs. Louisville (W, 3-0); vs. Kansas State (W, 3-1); at Hawai'i (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: UC Irvine/Nike Challenge – at UC Irvine (Fri.); vs. Southern Mississippi (Sat.); vs. William and Mary (Sat.)

Summary: The Bruins proved this past weekend at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic that they are a team that can rely on any one player to step up to the plate at a moment's notice. Whether a kill is needed from the left, in the middle, or out of the back, someone will get it done. In a three-game sweep of Louisville, it was the left-side duo of Ali Daley and Kaitlin Sather who carried the offensive load, while it was middle blocker Rachell Johnson and opposite Emily Clement who put the ball away to help UCLA overcome Kansas State in four games. Against the host team, it was the trio of Clement, Daley, and Johnson that silenced the energetic crowd at the Stan Sheriff Center in a three-game sweep of Hawai'i. Of course, the one constant throughout the weekend was quarterback Nellie Spicer, who earned MVP honors after averaging 12.30 assists, 2.7 digs, and 1.8 kills per game while setting up her teammates in optimal hitting situations. Also voted to the All-Tournament team were Daley and Johnson. Next up for Andy Banachowski's troops is a quick jaunt into Orange County, where they'll participate in the UC Irvine/Nike Challenge beginning on Friday.

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

Results From Last Week: Houston Invitational – at Houston (W, 3-0); vs. New Mexico State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational – vs. Cal State Bakersfield (Thu.); vs. Pepperdine (Fri.)

Summary: Texas rebounded from its two losses to Penn State to easily capture the Houston Tournament this past weekend. Without the services of All-American Ashley Engle, who is still recovering from an ankle injury, sophomore Destinee Hooker was the weapon of choice for setter Michelle Moriarty. The 6-4 outside hitter led the Longhorns with 4.50 kills per game at a .407 clip and added six blocks and three aces on the weekend. Brandy Magee, coming back form a torn ACL injury, is slowly returning to her All-American form in the middle after the 6-2 redshirt senior pitched in 2.67 kills and 1.17 blocks per game while hitting .500 in the victories over host Houston and New Mexico State. While Texas should have no problem handling Cal State Bakersfield in the first match of the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational, it could receive a challenge from Pepperdine, the only other team in the country that can match the Longhorns height for height.

8. Washington Huskies (6-0)
Previous Ranking: 9

Results From Last Week: Gonzaga Tournament – at Gonzaga (W, 3-0); vs. Boise State (W, 3-0); vs. Morgan State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Long Beach State Tournament – at Long Beach State (Thu.); vs. Florida State (Fri.)

Summary: The youth movement continues to gain momentum in Seattle, as redshirt freshman Becky Perry was the leading attacker for Washington for the second consecutive week. Despite the lack of tough competition, the 6-2 outside hitter was still impressive after averaging 5.11 kills per game on a .418 clip, including a career high 22 kills against Morgan State. Reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year Christal Morrison played like a veteran and was solid in all phases of her game for head coach Jim McLaughlin. As a result, the 6-2 outside hitter was named the MVP of the Gonzaga Tournament and joining her on the all-tourney team were Perry and Jessica Swarbrick, who controlled the middle all weekend long with her great blocking skills. The competition gets slightly more difficult come this weekend, as Washington travels to Southern California to participate in the Long Beach State Tournament.

9. Wisconsin Badgers (5-1)
Previous Ranking: 8

Results From Last Week: BYU Molten Classic – at BYU (L, 3-2); vs. Northern Iowa (W, 3-0); vs. American (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Loyola Marymount Classic – vs. Columbia (Fri.); vs. Tulane (Sat.); at Loyola Marymount (Sat.)

Summary: Despite a match-high 22 kills from Britteny Dolgner, Wisconsin was not able to overcome host Brigham Young and dropped a five-game thriller to open up the BYU Molten Classic. Dolgner did her best to help her team overcome the hostile home crowd and the big BYU block, but the Badgers struggled to find offensive production out of the second outside hitter and opposite positions. Middles Taylor Reineke and Audra Jeffers had solid matches for head coach Pete Waite, combining for 25 kills and 12 blocks. Wisconsin bounced back nicely the following day with two wins over Northern Iowa and American. After a subpar match against the Cougars, Kathryn Dykstra reasserted herself on the right side, pitching in 16 kills and three blocks to go along with Dolgner's match-high 19 kills in a sweep against the Panthers, while Jeffers continued to have a solid weekend in the middle after posting team-highs of 11 kills and six blocks against the Eagles. Wisconsin continues its season on the road with the Loyola Marymount Classic in Los Angeles, Calif.

10. California Golden Bears (5-1)
Previous Ranking: 10

Results From Last Week: Colorado Invitational – vs. Central Florida (W, 3-0); vs. UNC-Wilmington (W, 3-0); at Colorado (L, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Golden Bear Invitational – vs. Utah State (Fri.); vs. Eastern Kentucky (Sat.); vs. Minnesota (Sat.)

Summary: California ended the weekend on a sour note, dropping its final game of the Colorado Invitational to the host team. Despite the best efforts of All-Tournament selections Angie Pressey and Kat Reilly, the Golden Bears were unable to overcome the heat, high altitude, and scrappy play of the Buffaloes. Pressey was her usual All-American self, posting 11 kills and seven blocks, while Reilly rejected seven attacks from the middle to pace the defensive end. Middle blocker Ellen Orchard also had a solid match in the losing effort after she downed 10 kills on a .444 clip to go along with five blocks. In California's earlier matches against Central Florida and UNC-Wilmington, opposite Morgan Beck carried her squad with 4.00 kills and 1.5 blocks per game, with outside hitter Hana Cutura pitching in 3.00 kills and 1.00 blocks per game. Rich Feller's troops will have a chance to redeem themselves at their own Golden Bear Invitational, where the main event will be a tussle with Big 10 power Minnesota.

11. Ohio Bobcats (4-1)
Previous Ranking: NR

Results From Last Week: Diet Coke Classic – at Minnesota (W, 3-2); vs. San Diego (W, 3-2); vs. Stanford (L, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Shamrock Invitational – vs. Alabama (Thu.); vs. College of Charleston (Fri.); at Notre Dame (Sat.)

12. Cal Poly Mustangs (3-3)
Previous Ranking: 12

Results From Last Week: Holiday Inn Downtown Classic – vs. Penn State (L, 3-2); vs. Creighton (W, 3-0); at Nebraska (L, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Stanford Invitational – vs. Brigham Young (Thur.); at Stanford (Fri.); vs. Saint Mary's (Sat.)

13. Michigan Wolverines (6-0)
Previous Ranking: 15

Results From Last Week: Miami (Ohio) University Invitational – at Miami (W, 3-0); vs. Pittsburgh (W, 3-0); vs. Wake Forest (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Michigan/Pepsi Challenge – vs. Eastern Michigan (Fri.); vs. Xavier (Fri.)

14. Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-2)
Previous Ranking: 11

Results From Last Week: Diet Coke Classic – vs. Ohio (L, 3-2); vs. Stanford (L, 3-1); vs. San Diego (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: Golden Bear Invitational – vs. Eastern Kentucky (Fri.); vs. Utah State (Sat.); at California (Sat.)

15. Brigham Young Cougars (5-0)
Previous Ranking: NR

Results From Last Week: BYU Molten Classic – vs. Wisconsin (W, 3-2); vs. American (W, 3-0); vs. Northern Iowa (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Stanford Invitational – vs. Cal Poly (Thu.); vs. Saint Mary's (Fri.); vs. Stanford (Sat.)

Dropped Out: San Diego (13); Purdue (14)


Player of the Week Honors

AVCA:

Mekana Barnes, Colorado State, 6-0, MB, Jr.

  • vs. Ohio State – 12 kills, .526 hitting percentage, eight blocks, and three aces
  • vs. Pacific – 16 kills, .609 hitting percentage, and six blocks
  • For the Week – 3.00 kills and 2.33 blocks per game; .667 hitting percentage

Big 10 Conference:

Brooke Dieter, Minnesota, 6-2, OH, Fr. (Offensive)

  • vs. Ohio – 22 kills, .375 hitting percentage, 10 digs, and two blocks
  • vs. Stanford – 15 kills, 14 digs, and five blocks
  • vs. San Diego – 20 kills, .370 hitting percentage, 13 digs, and two blocks
  • For the Week – 4.38 kills, 2.84 digs, and 0.69 blocks per game; .325 hitting percentage

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

  • vs. Miami (Ohio) – 25 digs
  • vs. Wake Forest – 20 digs
  • vs. Pittsburgh – 15 digs
  • For the Week – 6.67 digs per game

Big 12 Conference:

Nataly Korobkova, Kansas State, 6-3, OPP, Jr. (Offensive)

  • vs. Houston – eight kills, .417 hitting percentage, four digs, and three blocks
  • vs. Hawai'i – 24 kills, four digs, seven blocks, and one ace
  • vs. Louisville – 15 kills, .500 hitting percentage, three digs, four blocks, and two aces
  • vs. UCLA – 22 kills, .333 hitting percentage, four digs, three blocks, and four aces
  • For the Week – 5.31 kills, 1.15 digs, and 1.31 blocks per game; .318 hitting percentage

Anna Breyfogle, Baylor, 6-3, MB, Soph. (Defensive)

  • vs. Texas State – six blocks
  • vs. Stephen F. Austin – nine blocks
  • vs. Mississippi State – 11 blocks
  • vs. Oregon – five blocks
  • For the Week – 2.07 blocks per game

Pac-10 Conference:

Alix Klineman, Stanford, 6-4, OH, Fr.

  • vs. San Diego – 16 kills, .414 hitting percentage, five digs, and one block
  • at Minnesota – 17 kills, 14 digs, two aces, and one block
  • vs. Ohio – 15 kills, .333 hitting percentage, eight digs, and one ace
  • For the Week – 4.80 kills, 2.70 digs, and 0.30 aces per game; .301 hitting percentage

Southeast Conference:

Nicole Britenriker, Kentucky, 5-11, MB, Sr.

  • vs. Georgetown – 11 kills, .500 hitting percentage, six digs, and six blocks
  • vs. Austin Peay – 15 kills, .571 hitting percentage, nine digs, and one ace
  • vs. Cleveland State – 13 kills, .522 hitting percentage, 11 digs, and four blocks
  • vs. Eastern Kentucky – 11 kills and four blocks
  • For the Week – 4.17 kills and 1.16 blocks per game; .469 hitting percentage

Elena Martinez, LSU, 5-8, L, Jr.

  • vs. Illinois – 20 digs
  • vs. Texas A&M Corpus Christi – 19 digs
  • at Rice – 30 digs
  • For the Week – 5.75 digs

West Coast Conference:

Heather Hughes, Loyola Marymount, 6-2, OPP, Jr.

  • vs. Northwestern – 24 kills, .489 hitting percentage, 20 digs and one block
  • vs. UC Santa Barbara – 23 kills, .380 hitting percentage, 11 digs, and four blocks
  • vs. UNLV –31 kills, .370 hitting percentage, 15 digs, and 10 assists
  • For the Week – 7.80 kills, 4.60 digs, and 0.80 blocks per game; .405 hitting percentage

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