Top 10 Above the Net

The top ten teams remained unchanged, and Stanford scored huge wins vs. rival #10 Cal at Berkeley last Friday and fourth-ranked USC on Thursday. The Cardinal face another top-ranked team, #5 UCLA on Friday at Maples Pavilion.

1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-0, 4-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 1

Results From Last Week: vs. Texas A&M (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Kansas (W, 3-0.); vs. Baylor (Sat.)

Summary: Nebraska made quick work out of Texas A&M last Saturday in its only match of the week, as the outside hitter Jordan Larson and opposite Sarah Pavan picked up double-doubles in the winning effort. Larson led the way with a match-leading 15 kills and 10 digs, while Pavan pitched in 12 kills and 10 digs. Redshirt senior Christina Houghtelling was also very effective from the pins, hitting a team-high .450 on her way to 11 kills and eight digs. Middle blocker Amanda Gates stepped into a starting role after Kori Cooper came down with the flu, and the 6-2 sophomore responded by putting away a career-high eight kills. One of the most efficient attacking teams in the nation, the Aggies could only muster a paltry .124 hitting percentage as the Huskers' defense, led by libero Rachel Schwartz' 16 digs, frustrated the visitors all throughout the night. Look for Nebraska to continue to roll through the Big 12 season, with a win vs. Kansas on Wednesday and a contest with Baylor (Sat.) on the horizon.

2. Stanford Cardinal (13-0, 2-0 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 2

Results From Last Week: at California (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: vs. USC (W, 3-0); vs. UCLA (Fri.)

Summary: Alix Klineman may just be a freshman, but the Pac-10 is already counting down the days until she will graduate from The Farm, as her 22 kills spearheaded Stanford to a four-game victory over host California last Friday. The 6'5" outside hitter was virtually unstoppable on the left or in the back, as she finished with an outstanding .415 hitting percentage against the country's top blocking team. Junior Cynthia Barboza was another integral piece in the Cardinal's survival out of Haas Pavilion, notching her seventh double-double of the season with 14 kills and 18 digs. Classmate Erin Waller also proved to be an indispensable weapon for head coach John Dunning against the Golden Bears, especially behind the service line. Tied one game apiece and trailing 23-28 in the pivotal third stanza, Waller served six straight points to forge a 29-28 lead; ironically, the 6'1" opposite hitter had a serving miscue on game point to tie it up at 29-29. However, the visitors escaped with the Game Three victory four points later after a Hana Cutura hitting error. The quest for a Pac-10 crown doesn't get much easier for Stanford, as it welcomes the always difficult one-two punch of USC and UCLA to Maples Pavilion on Thursday and Friday, respectively, but Stanford swept the fourth-ranked USC and looks to continue to roll.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2, 2-0 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 3

Results From Last Week: vs. Michigan State (W, 3-0); vs. Northwestern (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Indiana (Fri.); at Purdue (Sat.)

Summary: It was a rather uneventful week for Penn State, as it opened up Big Ten play with sweeps over Michigan State and Northwestern. Middle blocker Christa Harmotto led the winning effort against the Spartans, as she posted 11 kills on a career-high .919 hitting percentage, in addition to rejecting a season-high 11 attacks. With the victory, Russ Rose became only third head coach in Division I history to record 900 wins and he tacked on another mark in the "W" column with a triumph over the visiting Wildcats the following night. Outside hitter Nicole Fawcett bombarded the Northwestern defense with her hard-driven attacks and ended the match with 21 kills on a stellar .436 hitting percentage; the 6'3" junior also clamped down up at the net with a match-high seven blocks. Alisha Glass set up the offense well, assisting on 45 kills and propelled the team to a .322 hitting percentage. Libero Roberta Holehouse and outside hitter Megan Hodge led the way in the back row, coming up with 14 digs apiece. Away matches with Indiana and Purdue await, but it is almost with certainty that Penn State will end up with two more wins by the end of the weekend.

4. USC Trojans (12-1, 2-1 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 4

Results From Last Week: vs. Arizona State (W, 3-0); vs. Arizona (W, 3-2)
This Week's Matches: at Stanford (L, 3-0); at Cal (Fri.)

Summary: In a freshman class littered with such strong players, outside hitter Kimmee Roleder is proving to be one of the top performers in the 2007 season and Arizona State saw first hand just how good she can be up close. The 6'2" native out of Pasadena (Calif.) demonstrated her all-around skills after filling her stat line with 18 kills, a .469 hitting percentage, eight digs, three blocks, and one ace in an easy sweep over the Sun Devils. Arizona State's travel partner, Arizona, provided a much stiffer challenge for USC to tackle, but thanks to 25 kills from opposite Asia Kaczor, head coach Mick Haley came away from the Galen Center with another win. The 6'4" senior also showed she was more than a killing machine, showcasing her defensive presence with 16 digs and a team-leading six blocks. Lending support on the left side were Diane Copenhagen and Roleder, as the duo combined for 28 kills, 17 digs, and five blocks in the come-from-behind thriller. Southern California doesn't get a chance to catch its breath in the tough Pac-10, as it travels up to the Bay Area to battle Stanford (Thursday) and California (Friday), with Stanford already easily sweeping the Trojans, 30-21, 30-27, 30-21. 

5. Florida Gators (11-0, 4-0 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 5

Results From Last Week: at Mississippi (W, 3-0); at LSU (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: at Mississippi State (Fri.); at Alabama (Sun.)

Summary: Florida is off to its third-best start in school history after road victories at Mississippi and LSU and is well on its way to another SEC title. Against the Rebels, the Gators defense carried them to victory, holding the home team to a -.0.25 hitting percentage thanks to team totals of 50 digs and 10 blocks. Libero Elyse Cusack spearheaded the back-row defense with 15 digs, while middle blockers Kisya Killingsworth and Kelsey Bowers defended the net with four blocks apiece. Offense carried Florida against LSU, as Angie McGinnis set up three of her teammates to finish the match in double-digit kills. Outside hitter Marcie Hampton did a lot of damage on the left side, crafting up the Tigers' defense for 20 kills, while Kisya Killingsworth was a menace in the middle with 14 kills. Attacking from the right side was Amber McCray, who pounded 13 balls into the floor. The deadly combination of offense and defense will serve Florida well as it continues with run through the SEC with upcoming matches against Mississippi State and Alabama.

6. UCLA Bruins (12-1, 2-0 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 6

Results From Last Week: vs. Arizona (W, 3-1); vs. Arizona State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at California (W, 3-2); at Stanford (Fri.)

Summary: Last week, freshman Dicey McGraw stepped up in place of injured starter Emily Clements, helping out the Bruin offense on the left side. This week, it was classmate Juliane Piggott's turn to shine for UCLA. The 6'2" outside hitter gave setter Nellie Spicer yet another reliable option up at the net, putting down 10 kills at a .364 rate against visiting Arizona. Kaitlyn Sather, moved to the right side in place of Clements, led the team with 17 kills, while Ali Daley totaled yet another double double with 13 kills and 13 digs to go along with her seven stuffs. Rachell Johnson took care of things in the middle, denying a match-high eight Wildcat attacks; the senior also chipped in 13 kills in the four-game victory. In a three-gave triumph over Arizona State, UCLA's block was working at maximum efficiency, rejecting a season-high 14.5 spike attempts. Heading up the Bruin Wall was Johnson, who established a career high with 11 blocks, while Daley and Sather were next in line with six and five blocks, respectively. The contest also saw Sather and Spicer achieve double doubles, with Sather gathering 14 kills and 13 digs, while Spicer dished out 45 assists while picking up 10 digs. Daley was the top attacker for head coach Andy Banachowski with 15 kills on the night. UCLA now turns its attention to its Nor Cal opponents - the Bruins defeated California on Thursday, and face Stanford on Friday.

7. Texas Longhorns (7-3, 3-1 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 7

Results From Last Week: vs. Iowa State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Texas Tech (W, 3-1); vs. Colorado (Fri.)

Summary: Outside hitter Juliann Faucette is living up to her billing as one of the top newcomers in the collegiate game, proving to be a quite handful for opponents to deal with up at the net. Missouri had no defense that could slow down the 6-2 freshman, as she pounded 23 kills at an impressive .583 rate. This is the third consecutive match where she has hit above .300 and collected at least 20 kills. Junior Destinee Hooker was also a threat on the left side, collecting 15 kills, 12 digs, five blocks, and two aces. Redshirt senior Brandy Magee was the third Longhorn to end up with double-digit kills, finishing the match with 11 spikes on a .500 hitting percentage. Michelle Moriarty did a spectacular job running the offense, dishing 46 assists while leading the team to a .357 clip. Big 12 play continues for Texas this week, with a win Wednesday at Texas Tech followed by a home contest against Colorado on Friday.

8. Washington Huskies (13-0, 2-0 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 8

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

Summary: Washington continues to be one of the few teams in the country to be undefeated, but encountered difficulties maintaining its status among the elite when it matched up with Oregon last Friday. The Ducks got off to a hot start on their homecourt after taking the first two games from the Huskies and was on their way to a sweep behind the play of Gorana Maricic, who finished with a match-high 33 kills. However, outside hitter Stevie Mussie stepped up to the plate and supplied her teammates with the necessary offense to avoid a shocking loss. Behind her career-tying 27 kills, Mussie was the go-to hitter for the Huskies and terminated when called upon. Feeding the redshirt senior was freshman setter Jenna Hagglund, who ended the match with 61 assists, nine digs, and six blocks, used Christal Morrison (17 kills), Jessica Swarbrick (12 kills), and Becky Perry (11 kills) to diversify the attack. The following night, Mussie continued her strong play up front against Oregon State, putting down a match-high 20 kills at a .390 rate. Morrison helped out on the offense end by collecting her sixth double double of the season with 13 kills and 10 digs, while Swarbrick held up the defensive effort with a match-high six blocks. Washington continues its Pac-10 schedule on the road, facing in-state rival Washington State on Friday.

9. Wisconsin Badgers (10-1, 2-0 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 9

Results From Last Week: at Illinois (W, 3-1); at Michigan (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Northwestern (Fri.); at Michigan State (Sat.)

Summary: Facing an injury-depleted team usually would amount to an easy win for Wisconsin, but Illinois and its boisterous home crowd made it as hard as possible to pick up the victory. In the first stanza alone, the Badgers participated in the second-longest game in school history, falling 41-39 after an attack error gave the Fighting Illini the game. Outside hitter Brittney Dolgnar made sure there was no repeat of the first game for the rest of the contest, as she was the leading attacker with 17 kills. Outside hitter Alison Wack and middle blocker Audra Jeffers each chipped in 13 kills. Senior Taylor Reineke teamed up with Jeffers to control the middle, finishing with nine and eight blocks, respectively, while libero Jocelyn Wack posted a match-high 17 digs to organize the back-row defense. Three nights later, Wisconsin stormed onto Michigan's home court and promptly took care of business to earn the sweep, ruining the Wolverines perfect season. Jackie Simpson piloted the offense to a smooth .347 hitting percentage while handing out 39 assists in the process. Reineke continued her strong play out of the middle, boasting a team-high 11 kills on a .643 clip to go along with her four kills. Next up for Wisconsin are road matches against Northwestern (Friday) and Michigan State (Saturday).

10. California Golden Bears (10-3, 0-2 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 10

Results From Last Week: vs. Stanford (L, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: vs. UCLA (L, 3-2); vs. USC (Fri.)

Summary: For a game-and-a-half, California had Stanford on its heels and the fans at Haas Pavilion were sensing a huge upset in the making. Outside hitter Hana Cutura was absolutely hammering balls from the left, while opposite Morgan Beck was getting it down from all over the court. And than, the Cardinal began to assert its offense and block and the Golden Bears were unable to respond, going down in four tough games. Cutura was the leading hitter for California with 21 kills, while setter Carli Lloyd did a great job distributing the ball and three other teammates picked up at least 10 kills on the night. Beck filled up her box score with 10 kills, a team-leading 14 digs, and five blocks. Recovering from tendonitis in her left knee, senior Angie Pressey was only able to put down the ball at a .171 rate on her way to 11 kills, but she did manage to dig 11 digs to end the contest with a double double. Middle blocker Kat Reilly was the most efficient attacker for head coach Rich Feller and ended up hitting .500 with 10 kills in the losing effort. California will look to redeem itself and prove that it still belongs among the country's elite after another Pac-10 loss to UCLA on Thursday, when it hosts USC on Friday.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-3, 3-0 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 12

Results From Last Week: vs. Purdue (W, 3-0); vs. Indiana (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Iowa (W, 3-0); vs. Michigan (Sun.)

12. San Diego Toreros (10-4)
Previous Ranking: 13

Results From Last Week: vs. San Diego State (W, 3-1); vs. UC Irvine (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: vs. New Mexico (W, 3-1); vs. San Francisco (Sat.)

13. Michigan Wolverines (13-1, 1-1 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 11

Results From Last Week: vs. Illinois (W, 3-2); vs. Wisconsin (L, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Iowa (Fri.); at Minnesota (Sun.)

14. Ohio Bobcats (10-3, 2-0 MAC)
Previous Ranking: 15

Results From Last Week: at Buffalo (W, 3-0); at Akron (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Miami, Ohio (Fri.); vs. Bowling Green (Sat.)

15. Duke Blue Devils (8-3, 3-0 ACC)
Previous Ranking: NR

Results From Last Week: vs. Wake Forest (W, 3-0); vs. Maryland (W, 3-1); vs. Boston College (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Florida State (Fri.); at Miami (Sun.)

Dropped Out: BYU (14)


Player of the Week Honors

AVCA:

Melissa Griffin, Ohio University, 6-2, MB, Sr.

  • vs. Buffalo – 14 kills, .480 hitting percentage, three digs, and one block
  • vs. Akron – 18 kills, .727 hitting percentage, and three blocks
  • For the Week – 5.33 kills, .67 blocks, and .50 digs per game; .597 hitting percentage

Big Ten Conference:

Christa Harmotto, Penn State, 6-2, MB, Jr. (Offensive)

  • vs. Michigan State – 11 kills, .917 hitting percentage, and 11 blocks
  • vs. Northwestern – Six kills and three blocks
  • For the Week – 2.83 kills and 2.33 blocks per game; .556 hitting percentage

Audra Jeffers, Wisconsin, 6-2, MB, Jr. (Defensive)

  • vs. Illinois – Seven blocks
  • vs. Michigan – Eight blocks
  • For the Week – 2.14 blocks per game

Big 12 Conference:

Emily Brown, Kansas, 6-2, OH/S, Sr. (Offensive)

  • vs. Missouri – 29 assists, 12 kills, seven digs, and six blocks
  • vs. Texas Tech – 25 assists, 11 digs, 10 kills, and one block
  • For the Week – 6.75 assists, 2.75 kills, 2.57 digs and 1.00 blocks per game

Anna Breyfogle, Baylor, 6-0, MB, Soph. (Defensive)

  • vs. Colorado – 13 blocks
  • vs. Oklahoma – Seven blocks
  • For the Week – 2.22 blocks per game

Pac-10 Conference:

Stevie Mussie, Washington, 5-9, OH, Redshirt Sr.

  • vs. Oregon – 27 kills, .310 hitting percentage, nine digs, and one block
  • vs. Oregon State – 20 kills, .390 hitting percentage, nine digs, and one block
  • For the Week – 5.58 kills and 2.25 digs per game; .343 hitting percentage

Southeast Conference:

Crystal Hudson, Alabama, 5-9, MB, Sr. (Offensive)

  • vs. Mississippi State –18 kills and .517 hitting percentage
  • vs. Arkansas – 16 kills and .438 hitting percentage
  • For the Week – 5.66 kills and .477 hitting percentage

Elyse Cusack, Florida, 5-9, L, Soph. (Defensive)

  • vs. Mississippi – 15 digs
  • vs. LSU – 27 digs
  • For the Week – 6.00 digs per game

West Coast Conference:

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

  • vs. San Diego State – 14 kills and five blocks
  • vs. UC Irvine – 14 kills, .419 hitting percentage, and five blocks
  • For the Week – 3.50 kills and 1.25 blocks per game; .353 hitting percentage

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