1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (17-0, 10-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 1
Summary: In a week where upsets occurred in almost every major conference, Nebraska managed to escape the week with victories over Iowa State and Oklahoma. The Cyclones had thoughts of an upset and pushed the defending national champions to the limit in the first game, but a kill from Christina Houghtelling gave the home team the slim 33-31 victory. The Huskers had no problems there on out and took Games Two and Three 30-19 and 30-20 for their 15th win of the 2007 season. Right side Sarah Pavan led the charge with 18 kills and nine digs, while Houghtelling scored her fifth double-double of the year with 12 kills and 10 digs. Houghtelling recorded another double-double against the Sooners, powering her team to a sweep with her 14 kills and 19 digs. Rachel Holloway continued to do an excellent job at running the offense, distributing 49 assists and setting up her teammates for a .316 hitting percentage. Big 12 play continued for Nebraska with a win at Missouri on Wednesday, and will be followed by a date with Kansas on Saturday.
2. Penn State Nittany Lions (16-2, 8-0 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 3
Summary: In the marquee matchup of the week for the Big Ten Network, Penn State showed off its highly potent offense, as three players hit above .500 to easily take down visiting Ohio State in three games. Middle blocker Christa Harmotto and outside hitter Nicole Fawcett each had 10 kills while hitting .714 and .500, respectively, while quick hitter Arielle Wilson chipped in seven kills at a .636 clip. Reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Megan Hodge posted a match-high 15 kills, six digs, and five blocks. As a team, the Nittany Lions hit an impressive .465 against the Buckeyes, thanks to the pinpoint setting of quarterback Alisha Glass. Michigan fared no better against Penn State in Happy Valley, with Harmotto and Fawcett each hitting .550 for 12 kills apiece. Hodge again was the team leader in kills with 13, but she only managed to put the ball away at a .162 rate. Wilson and Glass made sure that the Wolverines had a difficult time getting their attacks onto the Nittany Lion side, putting up a match-high seven and five blocks, respectively. Penn State encounters their first real test in the Big Ten when it travels to Wisconsin on Sunday, though Illinois comes up first on Friday.
3. Stanford Cardinal (17-1, 6-1 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 2
Summary: Bryn Kehoe got to break Wendy Rush's 20-year-old school record for career assists in front of her fans at Maples Pavilion this past weekend, but her team suffered their first loss of this year, falling to visiting Washington in five games. For the match, Kehoe finished with 62 assists, 11 digs, and five blocks, while outside hitter Cynthia Barboza had her 11th double-double of 2007 with 20 kills and 17 digs, but made some costly serve receive errors during important stretches of the game. Foluke Akinradewo didn't connect with Kehoe out of the middle as well as she normally does, but still managed to put down 18 kills at a .417 hitting percentage. Gabi Ailes manned the backcourt defense, managing to dig up 24 UDub attacks, but she also led the team in service errors with seven. In fact, the Cardinal's performance behind the service line was very uncharacteristic, putting forth only six aces compared to 14 errors. The night before, Stanford's serving was instrumental in its sweep over Washington State, with 11 aces to only five service errors. Aggressive serving caused the Cougar offense to break down and they were only able to connect for a kill on roughly 10% of their swings. Alix Klineman enjoyed a much higher success rate from the left side, hammering 16 kills at a .441 clip. Barboza had a solid outing with 12 kills and eight digs to contribute to the Cardinal triumph. Stanford will try to bounce back and get back to its winning ways this week when it travels to the desert to face Arizona and Arizona State.
4. Texas Longhorns (12-3, 8-1 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 5
Results From Last Week: vs. Baylor (W, 3-0); vs. Kansas (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Oklahoma (W, 3-0); at Missouri (Sat.)
Summary: Texas had no problems with its Big 12 foes this week, barely breaking a sweat in three-game victories over visiting Baylor and Kansas. Sophomores Destinee Hooker and Ashley Engle were an unstoppable pair from the antennas against the Bears, combining for 28 kills on a .533 hitting percentage. Brandy Magee topped her teammates in terms of kill efficiency, putting down 10 balls at a .833 rate. Overall, the Longhorns hit .421 on the evening and much of the credit goes to senior quarterback Michelle Moriarty, who handed out 47 assists. After hitting negative against Baylor, freshman Juliann Faucette took out her frustrations on Kansas, rifling through the block for 22 kills at a .432 clip. The 6'1" outside hitter is fast becoming a well-rounded player, adding nine digs and a match-high four blocks to her stat line. Libero Alyson Jennings played excellent defense in the back, picking up 16 Jayhawk attacks, while middle blockers Lauren Paolini and Magee chipped in three blocks each. Texas could face some challenges on the road from both Oklahoma and Missouri, but will more than likely come away from two more marks in the "W" column - as they already did vs. Oklahoma yesterday.
5. Washington Huskies (17-1, 6-1 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 8
Summary: Jim McLaughlin has taken a lot of flack for constantly scheduling a weak preseason and that criticism looked to be justified after his team fell to host California in five games after being up two games to one. Outside hitters Stevie Mussie and Christal Morrison did their best to lead Washington to victory, but Cal responded with its left-side pair of Angie Pressey and Hana Cutura. Libero Tamari Miyashiro was fantastic in the back row with 27 digs, while opposite Becky Perry and middle blockers Alesha Deesing and Jessica Swarbrick each shut down six Golden Bear attackers. The following night, Washington more than made up for its disappointing loss with a huge victory over then-Pac-10 leader Stanford. Despite sitting for parts of Game Two and Three, Mussie was the definite go-to hitter for setter Jenna Hagglund, especially out of the back row, and finished with a match-high 20 kills. Morrison had a great all-around game and filled up her box score to the tune of 19 kills, 13 digs, three blocks and one ace in the thrilling comeback. Down two games to one, the Huskies defense can be credited for playing a part in the sweet win, as Miyashiro and defensive specialists Megan McAfee both had career highs with 37 and 12 digs, respectively, and many of their pancake saves amazed the crowd at Maples Pavilion. Swarbrick was a constant threat out of the middle on offense and defense, finishing with 13 kills and six blocks. The road for Washington doesn't get any easier, as it hosts UCLA and USC this Thursday and Friday, respectively.
6. USC Trojans (16-2, 5-2 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 7
Summary: Southern California started off its week with a relatively easy win over visiting Oregon State. Senior Asia Kaczor terminated 17 sets from the right side to lead the Trojan charge, while junior Jessica Gysin had 11 kills from the left side. On-and-off again libero Geena Urango took her turn swinging from the antennas and succeeded putting balls away, finishing with 10 kills at a .304 clip. Oregon came to the Galen Center the following night, but was given a rude welcome, as USC posted 16 total team blocks. Bethany Johansen stuffed a match-high seven blocks, while setter Taylor Carico protected the right side with five rejections. Libero Alli Hillgren made sure that the defensive effort did not end once the ball got past the front-line, digging up 21 attacks. Kaczor and Gysin were once again the leaders on offense, teaming up for 27 kills. Next on Southern California's slate are matches with Washington State and Washington on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
7. California Golden Bears (14-4, 4-3 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 10
Results From Last Week: vs. Washington (W, 3-2); vs. Washington State
This Week's Matches: at Arizona State (Thu.); at Arizona (Fri.)
Summary: California scored its biggest victory of the season with a thrilling five-game nail biter over Washington. Down two games to one, the Golden Bears rallied behind the arms of All-American Angie Pressey and Hana Cutura, as the duo hammered 46 kills from the outside. Ellen Orchard was dominant out of the middle, pounding down 16 kills at a .500 clip while also rejecting three attacks. Libero Kristen Kathan patrolled the back row and came up with 22 digs, while Cutura and Pressey followed with 16 and 14 digs, respectively. After such an exhilarating victory, California could have fallen victim to a huge letdown when facing Washington State the next night, but head coach Rich Feller made sure that his team was ready to do battle again and efficiently took care of the business in three games. Orchard was again a monster in the middle, thundering 11 kills at a .526 rate, while also posting a match-high 10 blocks. Morgan Beck only participated in two games, but she was an effective weapon for setter Carli Lloyd to utilize with eight kills and hitting .462 on the night. Lloyd also had a fantastic match against the Cougars, finishing with 40 assists, nine digs, and eight blocks. California looks to continue its strong play as it heads to the Grand Canyon State to face off with Arizona State and Arizona this week.
8. Wisconsin Badgers (16-1, 8-0 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 9
Results From Last Week: at Minnesota (W, 3-0); at Iowa (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Ohio State (Fri.); vs. Penn State (Sun.)
Summary: Libero Jocelyn Wack was the center of attention last weekend for Wisconsin, as the 5'11" senior finished just one dig shy of tying the school record for career digs with her performance against Minnesota and Iowa. Against the Golden Gophers, J. Wack dug up 26 Golden Gopher attacks to lead her team to victory and in the process, broke an 18-year old school record for the number of digs in a three-game match. Brittney Dolgner proved to be difficult to contain at the antennas, smashing a match-high 22 kills at a .300 clip, while outside hitter Alison Wack and middle blocker Taylor Reineke put away eight kills apiece. J. Wack was the driving force behind a stingy Badger defense, as her 17 digs helped contribute to the Hawkeyes' dreadful .167 hitting percentage. Middles Reineke and Audra Jeffers did their part up at the net, stuffing six and five balls, respectively, while also combing for 27 kills. Dolgner was again the leader in kills and she finished tied for match-high honors with Iowa's Laura Kremer with 18 kills. Ohio State should be another win for Wisconsin come Friday, but first place is on the line when Penn State visits the Field House for a colossal Big Ten showdown on Sunday.
9. UCLA Bruins (15-3, 5-2 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 6
Results From Last Week: vs. Oregon (W, 3-1); vs. Oregon State (L, 3-2)
This Week's Matches: at Washington (Thu.); at Washington State (Fri.)
Summary: UCLA started off the week with a solid 3-1 victory over a tough Oregon squad thanks to strong contributions from the leftside and the middle. Ali Daley bombed a team-high 19 kills to provide a constant outlet for setter Nellie Spicer to turn to whenever there was suspect passing, while Dicey McGraw and Rachell Johnson each hammered home 18 kills. Katie Mills continued to impress the fans at Pauley Pavilion with her strong play at the net, putting away nine kills at a .500 pace, while also clamping down on six attacks. While many experts in the volleyball world would have pegged the Oregon as the more difficult opponents for UCLA to play this past weekend, it was actually Oregon State who was able to pull off the huge upset. It was just the third time in 44 tries that the Beavers were able to get a win over the Bruins and it all happened despite Daley's 26-kill, 25-dig performance. Opposite Kaitlin Sather (15 kills, 13 digs) and Spicer (52 assists and 13 digs) also finished with double-doubles to help support Daley, but it wasn't enough to counter the raw power of OSU's 6'5" Rachel Rourke, who finished with 25 kills. UCLA will have to regroup in a hurry, as it treks to the Pacific Northwest to face co-Pac-10 leader Washington, before visiting Washington State the following evening.
10. Florida Gators (16-1, 9-1 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 4
Summary: Florida fell from the ranks of the unbeatens after an embarrassing five-game loss to Arkansas, a team that doesn't even own a .500 record. Despite the offensive firepower from opposite Amber McCray (20 kills) and the defensive prowess of middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (10 blocks), the Gators were unable to overcome 23 kills from Jessica Dorrell, who launched the match-winner of the 20-18 fifth game. Outside hitter Marcie Hampton contributed a double-double of 18 kills and 10 digs, while Kisya Killingsworth provided nine kills and six blocks out of the middle. Earlier in the week, things went according to plan for Florida, dominating South Carolina thanks to a strong defense that held the Gamecocks to a measly .115 hitting percentage. Hampton led the way with 16 kills, five digs, and three blocks, while setter Angie McGinnis guided her squad to a .384 hitting percentage thanks to her 36 assists. Head coach Mary Wise looks to get her girls back on track this Friday with a road match at Auburn, followed up with a trip to Georgia.
11. San Diego Toreros (14-5, 4-1 WCC)
Previous Ranking: 12
12. Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-6, 5-3 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 11
13. Kansas State Wildcats (15-5, 7-3 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: NR
Results From Last Week: vs. Texas (L, 3-2); at Iowa State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Texas Tech (W, 3-0); at Oklahoma (Fri.)
14. Dayton Flyers (21-0, 8-0 A-10)
Previous Ranking: 14
15. Michigan Wolverines (16-4, 4-4 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: NR
Dropped Out: Duke (13), Oregon (15)
Player of the Week Honors
Teal Ericsson, Nevada, 6-1, OH, Sr.
- vs. Fresno State – 24 kills, .500 hitting percentage, three digs, and one block
- vs. Utah State – 14 kills, .345 hitting percentage, three digs, and three blocks
- For the Week – 6.33 kills, 1.00 digs, and .67 blocks per game; .433 hitting percentage
Big Ten Conference:
Christa Harmotto, Penn State, 6-2, MB, Jr. (Offensive)
- vs. Ohio State – 10 kills, .714 hitting percentage, and eight blocks
- vs. Michigan – 12 kills, .550 hitting percentage, and four blocks
- For the Week – 3.17 kills and 2.00 blocks per game; .618 hitting percentage
Jocelyn Wack, Wisconsin, 5-11, L, Sr. (Defensive)
- vs. Minnesota – 26 digs
- vs. Iowa – 17 digs
- For the Week – 6.14 digs per game
Big 12 Conference:
Michelle Moriarty, Texas, 5-10, S, Sr. (Offensive)
- vs. Baylor – 47 assists and set the Longhorns to a .421 hitting percentage
- vs. Kansas – 51 assists and helped the Burnt Orange to a .388 hitting percentage
- For the Week – 16.33 assists per game; set the Longhorns to a .404 hitting
Tatum Ailes, Missouri, 5-6, L, Sr. (Defensive)
- vs. Texas A&M – 19 digs
- vs. Baylor – 21 digs
- For the Week – 6.67 digs per game
Christal Morrison, Washington, 6-2, OH, Sr.
- vs. California – 21 kills, .370 hitting percentage, and eight digs
- vs. Stanford – 19 kills, .207 hitting percentage, and 13 digs
- For the Week – 4.00 kills and 2.10 digs per game; .286 hitting percentage
Jessica Dorrell, Arkansas, 5-11, OH, Sr. (Offensive)
- vs. Florida – 23 kills, .250 hitting percentage, nine digs, three blocks, and two aces
- vs. South Carolina – 11 kills, .348 hitting percentage, eight digs, three aces, and one block
- For the Week – 4.25 kills, 2.12 digs, .63 aces and .50 blocks per game; .280 hitting percentage
Tara Langley, Ole Miss, 5-8, L, Sr. (Defensive)
West Coast Conference:
Laurel Abrahamson, San Diego, 6-4, MB, Sr.
- vs. Pepperdine – 12 kills, .393 hitting percentage, and five blocks
- vs. Loyola Marymount – 21 kills, .500 hitting percentage, and six blocks
- For the Week – 4.71 kills and 1.57 blocks per game; .459 hitting percentage
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