Top 10 Above the Net

The top ten welcomed a new entrant this week and said goodbye to a Bay Area team that got swept at home last week. The Cardinal had a great weekend sweeping the LA schools and Foluke Akinradewo was recognized as the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the second time this season.

1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-0, 6-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 1

Results From Last Week: at Kansas (W, 3-0); vs. Baylor (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Kansas State (W, 3-0); at Colorado (Sat.)

Summary: Baylor had no chance with the way Rachel Holloway was running the offense. In an absolute slaughter, the 5'10" redshirt sophomore dished out 39 assists while leading her squad to a .500 hitting percentage. Yup, you read that correctly. The Cornhuskers were on their game thanks to senior Sarah Pavan, who put down a match-leading 13 kills at a .476 clip. Middle blocker Kori Cooper hit .706 while chipping in 12 kills, while outside hitter Christina Houghtelling matched the sophomore's kill total but also produced a team-high 16 digs in the winning effort. Earlier in the week, Kansas also discovered that scoring against Nebraska took a Herculean effort, finding the floor only seven percent of the time thanks to great blocking from middle blocker Tracy Stalls and excellent back-row play from outside hitter Jordan Larson. The pair of Larson and Pavan from the antennas was also too much for the Wildcats to handle, as they combined for 29 kills, four blocks, and four aces. While Kansas State was hoping not to get steamrolled on Wednesday night, they got swept.  Meanwhile, Colorado is hoping for some repeat magic on Saturday, as it was the only team to hand Nebraska a loss last year.

2. Stanford Cardinal (14-0, 3-0 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 2

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

Summary: When the Stanford juggernaut is running on all cylinders, it's lights out for its opponents as USC and UCLA found out last week after each was swept in Maples Pavilion. Foluke Akinradewo led the Cardinal offense with a .680 hitting percentage and 18 kills, followed by outside hitters Cynthia Barboza and Alix Klineman's combined 27 kills. Barboza was particularly effective from the back row, especially in the second game when she scored three of the last six points from behind the 3-meter line. Freshman Gabi Ailes did a great job defending the ‘SC hitters, racking up 18 digs in the winning effort. Against the Bruins, Klineman scored her third career double-double with 19 kills and 19 digs in the straight-set triumph. Akinradewo was again effective at the net, pounding down 12 kills and rejecting six attacks to hold down the middle. For the weekend, the real hero was Bryn Kehoe, as the senior averaged 16.17 assists, 4.00 digs, and 1.67 blocks per game this weekend, all while leading the Cardinal to a stellar .318 hitting percentage. Stanford gets somewhat of a breather against Oregon State on Thursday, though it'll have to be back on its game against Oregon the following evening.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions (12-2, 4-0 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 3

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

Summary: Megan Hodge was the first player to ever be named the Big Ten Player of the Year as a freshman and she's making sure that the term "sophomore slump" doesn't apply to her in 2007. In Big Ten play, she is the leading attacker for Penn State and her play on the outside ensured straight-set victories over Indiana and Purdue. In the win over the Hoosiers, Hodge was the only Nittany Lion to reach double figures in kills, putting down 15 kills at a .312 rate. Opposite Blair Brown and middle blocker Arielle Wilson stifled the home team, notching eight blocks apiece, while quick hitter Christa Harmotto pitched in six stuffs. Against the Boilermakers, Hodge was once again a favorite target of setter Alisha Glass, finishing with 13 kills and a .357 hitting percentage. Outside hitter Nicole Fawcett picked up a match-high 14 kills, but was only able to convert on .162 of her swings. Wilson was again a major factor for head coach Russ Rose, providing a nice stat line of 10 kills and eight blocks. Penn State should have no problems with a visiting Iowa, but will have to keep an eye out on Minnesota's fabulous freshmen Lauren Gibbemeyer and Brooke Dieter come Saturday.

4. USC Trojans (13-1, 3-1 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 4

Results From Last Week: at Stanford (L, 3-0); at Cal (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: vs. UC Irvine (W, 3-2); at UCLA (Fri.)

Summary: Southern California had its 12-game winning streak snapped after experiencing a straight-set loss to host Stanford. Team captain Diane Copenhagen did not start thanks to a strained abdominal, but it wouldn't have made much of a difference. Setter Taylor Carico couldn't get the Trojan offense started, quarterbacking her hitters to just a .179 hitting percentage. Asia Kaczor did her best to lift her teammates up with 11 kills and two blocks, while local girl Jessica Gysin gave her fans something to cheer about by collecting 10 kills and seven digs. The following night, it looked as if USC would suffer a similar fate to California, dropping the first game 30-17. However, freshman Kimmee Roleder stepped up her game in a hostile environment and finished with 18 kills, seven digs, and two blocks to complement the combined 33 kills of Kaczor and Gysin. Bethany Johansen led the Trojan defense up at the net with six blocks, while Gysin had a match-high 16 digs in the back row. After surviving a pesky UC Irvine squad earlier in the week, USC takes on heated cross-town rival UCLA Friday night. 

5. Florida Gators (13-0, 6-0 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 5

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

Summary: Florida scored two more victories last week to up its SEC record to a perfect 6-0. Mississippi State was not able to handle Kisya Killingsworth and Marcie Hampton, as the senior duo combined for 28 kills, 13 digs, five blocks and a .578 hitting percentage. Classmate Angie McGinnis dished out 40 assists as the Gators hit a season-high .505 clip, unstoppable at the pins and in the middle. The defense wasn't too shabby either, as the Bulldogs only hit .150 thanks in part to Killingsworth's five blocks and libero Elyse Cusack's match-high 14 digs. Alabama proved to be a more difficult opponent, pushing Florida for most of the match. Hampton was the go-to attacker once again, with 15 kills and added eight digs and one block. Freshman outside hitter Callie Rivers registered her first career double double with 13 kills and 10 digs, while Killingsworth chipped in 12 kills and four blocks to man the middle. Florida has a chance to distance itself in the SEC, as it matches up with second-place Kentucky on Friday, with Tennessee lurking on Sunday.

6. Texas Longhorns (9-3, 5-1 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 7

Results From Last Week: at Texas Tech (W, 3-1); vs. Colorado (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Texas A&M (W, 3-0); at Kansas State (Sat.)

Summary: This week marked the return of All-American Ashley Engle, as the sophomore right side helped Texas overcome Texas Tech on the road, thanks to her 15 kills, career-high nine blocks, and seven digs. Unblockable from the pins was Destinee Hooker, as the sophomore saw half her attempts go down for a kills and ended the night with 21. Michelle Moriarty handed out 52 assists and directed a balanced offense that saw a total of four players finish with 10 or more kills. Against Colorado, Moriarty once again set up four of her teammates to finish with at least 10 or more kills, though it was freshman outside hitter Juliann Faucette who made the most noise with her match-high 18 kills and nine digs. Hooker hammered down 17 kills while middles Lauren Paolini and Brandy Magee pitched in 11 and 10 kills, respectively. As a team, Texas hit a spectacular .400, thanks to Moriarty's great decision making and 52 assists. As great as its offense was against the Buffaloes, the Longhorns' defense also held up its end of the bargain with Paolini rejecting a match-high six blocks and libero Alyson Jennings corralling 10 digs. A dangerous Kansas State squad await Texas on Saturday, as the Wildcats are led by Russian implant Nataly Korobkova.

7. UCLA Bruins (13-2, 3-1 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 6

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

Summary: It wasn't pretty, but UCLA somehow managed to claw its way back from a 2-0 deficit on the road against California to snatch an improbable 15-9 triumph in the fifth stanza. Ali Daley terminated at a dismal .185 rate, but she did collect a team-high 18 kills in the process to go with a match-high 21 digs and six blocks. Freshman Katie Mills chipped in 11 kills, including the final point of the crucial 31-29 Game Four victory, in addition to stuffing eight balls. Libero Jade Machado and defensive specialist Jessica Fine were solid in the back line for head coach Andy Banachowski, picking up career highs in digs with 20 and 18, respectively. The next night, UCLA traveled across the Bay in hopes of a repeat performance, but Stanford was too physical up at the net and held the Bruins to a dismal .160 hitting percentage. The lone bright spot for the Blue and Gold was the excellent defensive play of Machado and Fine, who combined for 35 digs in just three games. Daley was once again the leading attacker with 12 kills, while opposite Kaitlyn Sather and Rachell Johnson each produced 10 kills. UCLA's lack of a dynamic offense could undermine its superior defense in its annual battle for volleyball supremacy with heated foe USC this Friday.

8. Washington Huskies (14-0, 3-0 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 8

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

Summary: This week did not provide much of a test for Washington, as it went up against cellar-dweller Washington State. Christal Morrison had no problems with the Cougar defense, powering her way past the block for a match-high 15 kills on a .406 hitting percentage. Freshman Jenna Hagglund played beyond her class status and directed UW to an impressive .322 rate while handing out 46 assists. The Huskies' defense frustrated the host team, as libero Tamari Miyashiro dug up everything in sight, ending the contest with 21 digs, while opposite Becky Perry tagged a match-leading six blocks up at the net. Contributions out of the middle came from Alesha Deesing and Jessica Swarbrick, tallying five blocks apiece and a combined 15 kills. While Arizona State should be a rollover for Washington, visiting Arizona could prove to be a handful, especially after taking USC to five games.

9. Wisconsin Badgers (12-1, 4-0 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 9

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

Summary: Wisconsin hasn't played in the comfy confines of the Field House since late August, and after last week's gritty victories over Northwestern and Michigan State, the home court advantage will be something that Pete Waite's troops will look forward to next week when Big Ten action picks up again. Against the Wildcats and their loud student cheering section, sophomore Brittney Dolgner carried her squad across the finish line, ending with a whopping 23 kills on a .375 clip. Whenever the Badgers' passing broke down, it was the 6'1" outside hitter that setter Jackie Simpson counted on to put the ball away. Katherine Dykstra terrorized the right side for 15 kills, while middles Taylor Reineke and Audra Jeffers kept the defense honest by garnering 10 kills each. While its offense allowed Wisconsin to survive its trip to Evanston, defense was the key to getting out of East Lansing unscathed, as Reineke rejected a personal-best 13 blocks in the four-game triumph. Overall, the Badgers guarded the net well after countering 17.5 of the Spartans' attacks, while Dykstra contributed to the block party with seven blocks. Wisconsin continues its season by hosting Purdue on Friday, followed by Indiana on Saturday.

10. San Diego Toreros (11-4, 1-0 WCC)
Previous Ranking: 12

Results From Last Week: vs. New Mexico (W, 3-1); vs. San Francisco (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Santa Clara (Thu.); vs. Saint Mary's (Sat.)

Summary: With California's meltdown against UCLA and the recent ankle injury to Minnesota middle blocker Jessy Jones, San Diego leapfrogs into the Top 10 for the first time this season. The Toreros played a difficult preseason schedule, but with the offensive emergence of freshman Ali Troost and the brilliant net play of senior Laurel Abrahamson, head coach Jen Petrie looks to prep her squad for another visit to the Sweet 16. The defending West Coast Conference champions began its title defense on a great note, sweeping San Francisco at home in the Jenny Craig Pavilion. Abrahamson, a top candidate for conference Player of the Year, hit .688 on her way to 12 kills and added a match-high four blocks. Sophomore Amy DeGroot piled on 10 kills, five digs, and two blocks to complete a solid outing for the home team. Earlier in the week, San Diego took out visiting New Mexico in four games on the strength of its diverse offense. Jessica Nyrop and Kelsi Myers shared the setting duties, combining for 55 assists and leading the Toreros to a .346 hitting percentage. Four players ended up with 10 or more kills, headed up by middle blocker Torey Ellick with 17 kills. Abrahamson (13), Troost (11), and Jessica Andersen (11) followed in kills and they teamed to put the ball down at a .509 clip. Home matches against an injured Santa Clara and a spirited, but height-disadvantaged Saint Mary's should result in two more victories by the end of next week.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-3, 4-0 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 11

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

12. California Golden Bears (10-4, 0-3 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 10

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

13. Duke Blue Devils (10-3, 5-0 ACC)
Previous Ranking: 15

Results From Last Week: at Florida State (W, 3-0); at Miami (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at N.C. State (Thu.); at North Carolina (Sun.)

14. Oregon Ducks (14-2, 3-1 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: NR

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

15. Dayton Flyers (17-0, 4-0 A-10)
Previous Ranking: NR

Results From Last Week: at Rhode Island (W, 3-0); at Fordham (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Temple (Fri.); at La Salle (Sat.)

Dropped Out: Michigan (13), Ohio (14)

Player of the Week Honors


Destinee Hooker, Texas, 6-4, OH, Soph.

  • vs. Texas Tech – 21 kills, .500 hitting percentage, eight blocks, and four digs
  • vs. Colorado – 17 kills, .353 hitting percentage, seven digs, two aces, and one block
  • For the Week – 5.43 kills, 1.83 digs, and 1.29 blocks per game; .431 hitting percentage

Big Ten Conference:

Laura DeBruler, Illinois, 5-11, OH, Fr. (Offensive)

  • vs. Michigan State – 19 kills and two blocks
  • vs. Northwestern – 20 kills and .487 hitting percentage
  • For the Week – 4.90 kills per game and a .333 hitting percentage

Arielle Wilson, Penn State, 6-3, MB, Fr. (Co-Defensive)

  • vs. Indiana – Eight blocks
  • vs. Purdue – Eight blocks
  • For the Week – 3.20 blocks per game

Christine Tan, Minnesota, 5-4, L, Soph. (Co-Defensive)

  • vs. Iowa – 16 digs
  • vs. Michigan – 24 digs
  • For the Week – 6.70 digs per game

Big 12 Conference:

Destinee Hooker (Offensive)

Jillian Phillips, Texas A&M, 6-1 MB, Jr. (Defensive)

  • vs. Baylor – 5 blocks
  • vs. Kansas State – 10 blocks
  • For the Week – 2.14 blocks per game

Pac-10 Conference:

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

  • vs. USC – 18 kills, .680 hitting percentage, four digs, four blocks and one ace
  • vs. UCLA – 12 kills, .500 hitting percentage, seven digs, six blocks, and one ace
  • For the Week – 5.00 kills, 1.83 digs, and 1.67 blocks; .596 hitting percentage

Southeast Conference:

Britnee Cooper, LSU, 6-3, MB, Soph. (Offensive)

  • vs. Auburn – 14 kills, .417 hitting percentage, and two blocks
  • vs. Georgia – 16 kills, .545 hitting percentage, and four blocks
  • For the Week – 4.29 kills and 0.85 blocks per game and .478 hitting percentage

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

  • vs. Mississippi State – 14 digs
  • vs. Alabama – 29 digs
  • For the Week – 6.14 digs per game

West Coast Conference:

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

  • vs. New Mexico – 13 kills, .600 hitting percentage, and four blocks
  • vs. San Francisco – 12 kills, .688 hitting percentage, and six blocks
  • For the Week – 3.57 kills and 1.42 blocks per game; .639 hitting percentage

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