Top 10 Above the Net

The top ten teams remained unchanged, but a big showdown looms for Stanford vs. Penn State on Saturday. Stanford's Foluke Akinradewo joins the ranks of the Players of the Week from around the country this week.

1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-0)
Previous Ranking: 1

Results From Last Week: Ameritas Players Challenge – vs. Duke (W, 3-0); vs. New Mexico State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Texas (Wed., W, 3-0); at Texas Tech (Sat.)

Summary: If this past weekend was any indication, Christina Houghtelling is back and in fine form. The outside hitter, voted the AVCA Player of the Year in 2006, dominated Duke and New Mexico State in leading Nebraska to the Ameritas Players Challenge title. The 6'2" redshirt senior averaged 4.17 kills, 3.00 digs, and 0.67 blocks per game while hitting an incredible .534 clip. For her outstanding efforts, Houghtelling was named the tournament MVP. Also grabbing tournament accolades were setter Rachel Holloway and middle blocker Tracy Stalls. Holloway directed the Cornhusker offense to a .371 hitting percentage and recorded 12.83 assists, 2.33 digs, and 1.17 blocks per game. Stalls had only one hitting error over the weekend on her way to a .654 clip and ended up with 3.00 kills and 1.00 blocks per game against the Blue Devils and Aggies. Nebraska opened up Big 12 play on Wednesday, defeating Texas, and will follow that by a trip to Lubbock (Texas) to face off against Texas Tech.

2. Stanford Cardinal (8-0)
Previous Ranking: 2

Results From Last Week: Stanford Invitational – vs. Saint Mary's (W, 3-0); vs. Cal Poly (W, 3-0); vs. BYU (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: at Cincinnati (Wed., W, 3-0); Courtyard by Marriott Yale Classic – vs. Delaware State (Fri.); at Yale (Sat.); vs. Penn State (Sat.)

Summary: The Cardinal hosted three solid teams this past weekend at the Stanford Invitational and came away with three more wins. Middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo was named the tournament MVP, thanks to her unstoppable attacks out of the middle and her superior blocking skills. The 6'3" junior hit .547 on the weekend and averaged 4.70 kills and 1.9 blocks per game, including a season-high 21 kills and eight blocks in a four-game triumph over Brigham Young. Junior Cynthia Barboza was selected to the All-Tournament squad for another solid effort on the left side, posting 4.60 kills and 4.10 digs per game while putting the ball down at a .339 clip. Setter Bryn Kehoe earned her spot on the all-tourney team by directing the Cardinal offense to a .306 mark and handing out 15.2 assists per game. Against Cal Poly, Kehoe also took sole possession of second place on the school's all-time career assists list, bypassing Carrie Feldman's mark of 4,461 assists; currently the senior has 4,550 assists to her credit, needing only 454 assists to break Wendy Rush's school record. Stanford faces another tough test this weekend, with a much-anticipated showdown with Penn State as the marquee matchup at the Courtyard by Marriott Yale Classic.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions (6-1)
Previous Ranking: 3

Results From Last Week: Penn State Classic – vs. St. John's (W, 3-0); vs. Colgate (W, 3-0); vs. Virginia Commonwealth (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Courtyard by Marriott Yale Classic – at Yale (Fri.); vs. Delaware State (Sat.); vs. Stanford (Sat.)

Summary: After a difficult weekend in Nebraska, the Nittany Lions returned home to Happy Valley where they thoroughly dominated the competition at the Penn State Classic. Sophomore Jessica Yanz, after riding the pine for much of her career, got the starting nod this weekend over classmate Alisha Glass and ran the offense beautifully. The team hit a blistering .426 clip over the two-day tournament and Yanz dished out 12.00 assists per game. Head coach Russ Rose was able to unload his bench, giving valuable experience to redshirt freshman Blair Brown on the right side and true freshman Arielle Wilson in the middle. Junior Christa Harmotto hit over .500 in all three of her matches, putting down 2.8 kills per game while also rejecting 1.22 attacks per game. As usual, outside hitters Nicole Fawcett and Megan Hodge were the main threats for the Nittany Lions, combining for 85 kills over the course of the tournament. Penn State next travels to Connecticut to participate in the Courtyard by Marriott Yale Classic, where a huge battle with Stanford awaits.

4. USC Trojans (8-0)
Previous Ranking: 4

Results From Last Week: vs. Pepperdine (W, 3-0); at Utah (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: Sports Imports Classic – at Ohio State (Fri.); vs. Purdue (Sat.)

Summary: In a rare mid-week match, Southern California swept Pepperdine thanks to the efforts of All-American Asia Kaczor. The 6'4" Polish import collected a match-leading 20 kills on a .486 hitting percentage to pace the Trojan attack. Senior outside hitter Diane Copenhagen tossed in 14 kills and hit .355 to lend support to Kaczor. Copenhagen continued to perform superbly on the left for head coach Mick Haley Friday night, recording a match-high 19 kills on a .366 clip. Fellow outside hitter Kimmee Roleder had a fine all-around match, posting 14 kills, seven digs, three blocks and one ace, while Kaczor contributed 11 kills to round the top attackers for USC. Freshmen Geena Urango and Zoe Garrett showed that the future is bright for the Trojans, especially on the defensive end as the duo had team highs in digs and blocks with 21 and seven, respectively. A week before Pac-10 action begins, Southern California travels to the Midwest to take on the Big Ten – more specifically, Ohio State and Purdue.

5. Florida Gators (7-0)
Previous Ranking: 5

Results From Last Week: vs. Florida State (W, 3-1); at Utah (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: vs. Georgia (Fri.); vs. Auburn (Sun.)

Summary: Florida struggled in its last two remaining pre-conference matches, beating both Florida State and Utah in four games. Against the Seminoles, the Gators came out flat and dropped the first game. However, the next three games saw the home team dominate, as outside hitter Marcie Hampton led a balanced attack against the Seminoles with 16 kills, followed closely by Kelsey Bowers (12), Kisya Killingsworth (11) and Amber McCray (10) who all registered double digits in kills. Reeling from an off-season ACL tear from All-American Emily Toone and the transfers of setter Sydney Anderson and outside hitter Airial Salvo, Utah was severely understaffed and yet gave Florida all it could handle. Poor passing continued to plague the Gators, but luckily McCray was at the top of her game with a match-leading 18 kills. Bowers was a defensive animal in the middle, clamping down on the Utah attack and finishing with 10 blocks. Florida opens up conference play this week, with Georgia and Auburn visiting Gainesville on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

6. UCLA Bruins (7-1)
Previous Ranking: 6

Results From Last Week: UC Irvine/Nike Challenge – at UC Irvine (W, 3-1); vs. Southern Mississippi (W, 3-0); vs. William and Mary (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: USD Tournament – vs. Cal State Northridge (Fri.); vs. Pittsburgh (Sat.); at San Diego (Sat.)

Summary: UCLA didn't have to travel far this week to capture another preseason tournament. After traveling across the Pacific to partake in the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic the previous week, the Bruins only had a short drive up I-5 to partake in the UC Irvine/Nike Challenge. Middle blocker Rachel Johnson and outside hitter Kaitlyn Sather were the go-to hitters for head coach Andy Banachowski, putting away 4.50 and 4.25 balls per game, respectively. Ali Daley also came up huge on the left side, averaging 3.71 kills, 3.57 digs and 1.17 blocks per game. The Bruins were able to clear their bench during the tournament, giving valuable playing time to youngsters Dicey McGraw, Katie Mills, and Juliane Piggott. UCLA finishes its preseason schedule with a two-day tournament down South and could face a challenge from host team San Diego at the USD Tournament.

7. Texas Longhorns (4-3)
Previous Ranking: 7

Results From Last Week: Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational – vs. Cal State Bakersfield (W, 3-0); vs. Pepperdine (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: at Nebraska (Wed., L, 3-0); vs. Missouri (Sat.)

Summary: Ashley Engle is still recovering from an ankle injury she suffered at the 2007 Under-19 World Championships, but Texas still forged on this past weekend to pick up two more victories. In the first showdown of the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational, Cal State Bakersfield was simply no match for the home team. Destinee Hooker and Juliann Faucette controlled the antennas and combined for 28 kills to pace the Longhorn attack. The following day, the dynamic duo continued their assault from the left side, amassing 46 kills in a four-game victory over Pepperdine. Middle blockers Lauren Paolini and Brandy Magee managed to put down 10 and nine kills, respectively, to keep the Waves' block honest. Setter Michelle Moriarty was one of the main reasons why Texas dominated the two-day tournament, averaging 13.85 assists per game while guiding the Longhorns to a stellar .339 clip. The ladies in Burnt Orange also dominated the post-tourney awards, as Hooker was named the MVP and Faucette, Magee, Moriarty and libero Alyson Jennings all got nods on the All-Tournament squad. Texas opened up its Big 12 Conference season with a loss against top-ranked Nebraska on Wednesday, and will follow with a date against Missouri on Saturday night.

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

Results From Last Week: Long Beach State Tournament – at Long Beach State (W, 3-1); vs. Florida State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Northern Florida/Jacksonville Classic – vs. North Florida (Thur.); at Jacksonville (Fri.); vs. New Orleans (Sat.)

Summary: Venturing out of the state of Washington for the first time this season, the Huskies struggled to find their rhythm against Long Beach State and was pushed to four games. Despite making a season-high 15 serving errors, UDub pulled out the "W" thanks to All-American Christal Morrison's 17 kills, 13 digs, and five blocks. Redshirt freshman Becky Perry contributed 13 kills and four blocks, while freshman Kindra Carlson and senior Alesha Deesing each had 11 kills and four blocks. The next night, Washington played much better and throttled Florida State in three games, led by outside hitter Stevie Mussie's match-high 12 kills. Deesing continued to play strong out of the middle, posting a .471 hitting percentage to go along with her 10 kills and one block. Libero Tamari Miyashiro led the defensive efforts with a game-leading 17 digs. Washington's creampuff schedule continues this Thursday, as it treks to Jacksonville, Fla. to take part in the three-day Northern Florida/Jacksonville Classic.

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

Results From Last Week: Loyola Marymount Classic – vs. Columbia (W, 3-0.); vs. Tulane (W, 3-0); at Loyola Marymount (W, 3-2)
This Week's Matches: Bye

Summary: Another tournament, another five-match thriller with the host school. Just the other week, Wisconsin went the distance with Brigham Young at the BYU Molten Classic, falling 15-13 in the final stanza. History looked to repeat itself this past weekend, as home team Loyola Marymount was on the brink of a huge upset, tied 13-13 with Wisconsin in Game Five. However, kills from Katherine Dykstra and Brittney Dolgner ended the threat of another heartbreaker for the Badgers, securing the championship crown of the Loyola Marymount Classic. In addition to producing the final two kills of the match, Dolgner and Dykstra were among the top hitters for head coach Pete Waite, slamming down 22 and 13 kills, respectively. Alison Wack added extra firepower on the left side with 18 kills. In the two earlier victories against Columbia and Tulane, outside hitter Caity DuPont put down 10 and 13 kills, respectively, as the leading attackers for the Badgers. Setter Jackie Simpson was named the Tournament MVP, while Dykstra and Wack also earned nods on the all-tourney team. Wisconsin is taking this week off, resting its players before heading into Big Ten play and starting off with road trips to Illinois and Michigan beginning on September 19.

10. California Golden Bears (8-1)
Previous Ranking: 10

Results From Last Week: Golden Bear Invitational – vs. Utah State (W, 3-0); vs. Eastern Kentucky (W, 3-0); vs. Minnesota (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Santa Clara Tournament – at Santa Clara (Fri.); vs. Notre Dame (Sat.)

Summary: After its shocking loss to Colorado, California proved that last weekend was just a fluke after blocking Big Ten power Minnesota off the court in the championship match of the Golden Bear Invitational. Middle blocker Kat Reilly covered the pins well and made sure that every Gopher attack was contested; she finished with a match-high eight blocks, while opposite Morgan Beck trailed closely with seven rejections. Beck and All-American Angie Pressey led the Golden Bear attack with 11 kills apiece on an identical .333 hitting percentage. In its two earlier matches, Tournament MVP Ellen Orchard was a threat out of the middle, averaging 4.00 kills and 1.00 blocks per game while hitting at a .600 clip in victories over Utah State and Eastern Kentucky. In addition to Orchard's hardware, the Golden Bears earned quite of few tournament accolades, as Beck and Pressey were named to the All-Tournament team and freshman Carli Lloyd was honored as the Outstanding Setter. This week, Cal stays in the Bay Area to take part in the 2007 Santa Clara Tournament, facing off with host Santa Clara and Big East power Notre Dame.

11. Michigan Wolverines (9-0)
Previous Ranking: 13

Results From Last Week: Michigan/Pepsi Challenge – vs. Eastern Michigan (W, 3-0); vs. Xavier (W, 3-2)
This Week's Matches: at Oakland (W, 3-0); Michigan/Nike Challenge – vs. Utah Valley State (Fri.); vs. Temple (Fri.); vs. Georgia Tech (Sat.)

12. Cal Poly Mustangs (5-4)
Previous Ranking: 12

Results From Last Week: Stanford Invitational – vs. Brigham Young (W, 3-1); at Stanford (L, 3-0); vs. Saint Mary's (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: USF Tournament – vs. Xavier (Fr.); vs. Sacramento State (Sat.); at University of San Francisco (Sat.)

13. Ohio Bobcats (6-2)
Previous Ranking: 11

Results From Last Week: Shamrock Invitational – vs. Alabama (L, 3-2); vs. College of Charleston (W, 3-1); at Notre Dame (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Denver Pioneer Classic – at Denver (Fri.); vs. Washington State (Fri.); vs. Long Beach State (Sat.)

14. San Diego Toreros (5-3)
Previous Ranking: NR

Results From Last Week: USD Invitational – vs. UC Santa Barbara (W, 3-1); vs. Virginia (W, 3-1); vs. Oklahoma (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: USD Tournament – vs. Pittsburgh (Fri.); vs. Cal State Northridge (Sat.); vs. UCLA (Sat.)

15. Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-3)
Previous Ranking: 14

Results From Last Week: Golden Bear Invitational – vs. Eastern Kentucky (W, 3-0); vs. Utah State (W, 3-0); at California (L, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Gopher Invitational – vs. Charlotte (Fri.); vs. Wisconsin-Green Bay (Sat.); vs. Creighton (Sat.)

Dropped Out: BYU (15)


Player of the Week Honors

AVCA:

Megan Hodge, Penn State, 6-3, OH, Soph.

  • vs. Saint John's – 18 kills, .556 hitting percentage, nine digs, three blocks, and two aces
  • vs. Virginia Commonwealth – 12 kills, .381 hitting percentage, 12 digs, and three blocks
  • vs. Colgate – 15 kills, .583 hitting percentage, six digs, five blocks, and two aces
  • For the Week – 5.00 kills, 3.30 digs, and 1.20 blocks per game; .514 hitting percentage

Big 10 Conference:

Megan Hodge, Penn State, 6-3, OH, Soph. (Offensive)

Jenilee Rathje, Michigan State, MB, Fr. (Defensive)

  • vs. Wofford – Five blocks
  • at Boston College – Five blocks
  • vs. Delaware State – Eight blocks
  • vs. Harvard – 11 blocks
  • For the Week – 2.23 blocks per game

Big 12 Conference:

Destinee Hooker, Texas, 6-4, OH, Soph. (Offensive)

  • vs. Cal State Bakersfield – 16 kills, .438 hitting percentage, and two blocks
  • vs. Pepperdine – 23 kills, five blocks, and one service ace
  • For the Week – 5.57 kills, 1.00 blocks, and 0.57 aces per game; .322 hitting percentage

Mariana Blum, Oklahoma, 5-10, OH, Sr. (Defensive)

  • vs. Virginia – 18 digs and three blocks
  • vs. UC Santa Barbara – 22 digs
  • vs. San Diego – 14 digs and three blocks
  • For the Week – 5.40 digs and 0.60 blocks per game

Pac-10 Conference:

Foluke Akinradewo, Stanford, 6-3, MB, Jr.

  • vs. Saint Mary's – 11 kills, .368 hitting percentage, and five blocks
  • vs. Cal Poly – 15 kills, .636 hitting percentage, and six blocks
  • vs. Brigham Young – 21 kills, .588 hitting percentage, and eight blocks
  • For the Week – 4.70 kills and 1.9 blocks per game; .547 hitting percentage

Southeast Conference:

Kyna Washington, LSU, 5-10, OH, Jr.

  • vs. Iowa State – 19 kills and five blocks
  • vs. Drake – 16 kills, .361 hitting percentage, three aces, and one block
  • vs. Iowa – 28 kills and one ace
  • For the Week – 5.25 kills and .50 blocks per game; .290 hitting percentage

Tara Langley, Ole Miss, 5-8, L, Sr.

  • vs. Prairie View A&M – 15 digs
  • vs. Southern Methodist – 21 digs
  • vs. Baylor – 19 digs
  • vs. Sam Houston State – 16 digs
  • For the Week – 5.92 digs per game

West Coast Conference:

Laurel Abrahamson, San Diego, 6-4, MB, Sr.

  • vs. UC Santa Barbara – 17 kills, .438 hitting percentage, and five blocks
  • vs. Virginia – 16 kills, .333 hitting percentage, and six blocks
  • vs. Oklahoma – 25 kills, .413 hitting percentage, and four blocks
  • For the Week – 4.83 kills and 1.25 blocks per game; .395 hitting percentage

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