1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (19-0, 11-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 1
Summary: For the second consecutive week, Nebraska narrowly won the first game on the home court of a Big 12 opponent, only to dominate the remainder of the match. Last week it was Iowa State, this time around it was Missouri. Opposite Sarah Pavan got a kill on over half the swings she took, finishing with 18 kills on a .514 clip, while Tracy Stalls was virtually invincible with her attacks out of the middle, pounding 15 kills at a .737 hitting percentage. Pavan continued to make noise on Saturday, as her 16th kill of the night gave her the school record for career kills, surpassing former great Allison Weston's four-year total; the left-handed spiker finished the match against Kansas with 17 kills. Outside hitter Jordan Larson had a solid all-around match, posting nine kills, six digs, a match-high four blocks, and two aces. The following day, Nebraska hosted Hawaii in a non-conference match that pitted two of the top programs in women's collegiate history. Unfortunately, the Rainbow Wahine was unable to match the Huskers firepower, not to mention over 13,000 screaming fans. Stalls and Pavan teamed up for 24 kills, while middle blocker Kori Cooper pitched in nine kills and four blocks in the victory. Nebraska got to gauge its progress in a huge midseason test when it visited Austin to face a much-improved Texas squad, especially with Destinee Hooker and Ashley Engle back in the lineup. Unfortunately, for Nebraska, they got swept by the Longhorns.
2. Stanford Cardinal (20-1, 9-1 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 3
Summary: Stanford may have swept Arizona on its home floor, but it wasn't an easy task. Despite 21 kills from outside hitter Cynthia Barboza and middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo, the Cardinal were pushed to the limit, especially in Games One and Three, as they beat the Wildcats 31-29, 30-24, and 30-28. In the third stanza in particular, John Dunning's Crew rallied from a 24-20 deficient to outscore the home team 10-4. Defensive specialist Jessica Fishburn was taken out of the second game due to an injury and freshman Cassidy Lichtman took her place, putting up eight digs in only two games of work. The following night, Stanford's play picked up considerably, with its offense firing on all cylinders after toasting the Arizona State defense for 61 kills on a season high .491 hitting percentage to earn the easy straight-game win. The big three of Akinradewo, Barboza, and Klineman put the ball away at will, combining for 41 kills at a .468 clip. Senior Franci Girard set a new personal record for hitting percentage after going seven for seven out of the middle. Libero Gabi Ailes posted 12 digs on the night to lead the back-row defense. The second half of Pac-10 play opens up for Stanford next week and right off the bat, it'll face the toughest road swing of the year with UCLA and USC waiting in the wings. With a win over Top 10-ranked UCLA, Stanford now has USC in its sights.
3. Penn State Nittany Lions (19-2, 11-0 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 2
Summary: Since the beginning of Big Ten play, Penn State had swept every conference opponent and Illinois was certain to experience a similar fate. Down two games to none, the Fighting Illini came out of the break to do the unthinkable: they won a game. And then they won another. All of a sudden, Penn State was in danger of dropping its first conference match of the year. However, thanks to a strong front-row defense that resulted in 25 blocks, the Nittany Lions were able to escape Huff Hall with the victory. Sophomore Alisha Glass set a school record for blocks in a match by rejecting 14 attacks, while junior Christa Harmotto also came up big with 12 stuffs on the night. Outside hitters Megan Hodge and Nicole Fawcett teamed up for 42 kills to pace the offense. Penn State faced another difficult challenge the following night, rallying to defeat host Wisconsin in five games. Harmotto put down the ball at a .444 rate for 16 kills, including the controversial match winner. The 6'2" middle blocker hit the ball into the block of Brittney Dolgner and Taylor Reineke and it grazed her head as it went out of bounds, but the refs did not catch it and called a no touch, ending the match as both teams stared at the refs in disbelief. Hodge and Fawcett were again the go-to hitters for Glass to set to, as the pair ended the contest with a combined 40 kills. Opposite Blair Brown and Harmotto were huge at the net, tallying a match-high six blocks each, to lead the Nittany Lion defense. Penn State's road tests continue with matches at Minnesota and Iowa this weekend.
4. Washington Huskies (20-1, 9-1 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 5
Results From Last Week: vs. UCLA (W, 3-0); vs. USC (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Washington State (W, 3-0)
Summary: Washington is one of the hottest teams in the country right now, proving that they are ready to compete for a berth to Sacramento in December after sweeping both UCLA and USC at home. Libero Tamari Miyashiro energized her team and the home crowd with her amazing back-row skills in the three-game victory over the Bruins, racking up a match-high 24 digs, including 12 saves in the first game alone. Setter Jenna Hagglund spread out to her outside hitters, as Christal Morrison and Stevie Mussie collected 13 kills apiece, while Becky Perry pitched in 12 kills. Jessica Swarbrick was solid in the middle with seven kills and six blocks while hitting a match-high .538 in the winning effort. The Huskies extended their school-record home-winning streak to 38 in taking down the Trojans. Morrison played like the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year that she is, putting away 17 kills while adding 10 digs, five blocks, and four aces. Mussie kicked in a double-double with 13 kills and 13 digs, while Miyashiro was excellent in the back row again with 19 digs. Washington got a bit of a breather this week, as it hosted and defeated last place Washington State on Friday.
5. Texas Longhorns (15-3, 11-1 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 4
Summary: Texas continued its strong conference play as of late, hitting .413 as a team against an overmatched Oklahoma. Outside hitter Juliann Faucette paced the Longhorn offense, collecting a double-double of 16 kills and 12 digs, while middle blocker Lauren Paolini was the picture of efficiency, putting away 11 kills at a .733 clip. Michelle Moriarty was the quarterback calling the shots, setting up her teammates in optimal position all night long and finished the match with 47 assists. Texas' high-octane offense continued to thrive in a three-game victory over host Missouri, as Moriarty guided her squad to a .388 clip after handing out 51 assists. Faucette nailed down a match-high 22 kills at a .432 clip, while opposite Ashley Engle produced a double-double of 11 kills and 13 digs. Senior Jen Christian replaced Hooker on the outside and did an admirable job after putting away 10 kills. Texas avenged a 3-0 loss to Nebraska earlier in the year when the two teams hooked up in Austin on Wednesday and with Engle and Hooker back in the lineup.
6. USC Trojans (18-3, 7-3 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 6
Results From Last Week: at. Washington State (W, 3-1); at. Washington
This Week's Matches: vs. California (W, 3-2); vs. Stanford (Sat.)
Summary: Southern California continues to struggle with outside hitters Diane Copenhagen and Kimmee Roleder sidelined, leaving opposite Asia Kaczor and outside hitter Jessica Gysin to carry much of the offensive load against the Washington schools. The Cougars took the Trojans to four games, but Kaczor and Gysin made sure it didn't get out of control, as the duo put down 23 and 16 kills, respectively at a combined .507 rate. Gysin and Kaczor also got it done on the defensive end to give them double-doubles, teaming up for 28 digs in the match. Freshman Zoe Garrett rejected Washington State attacks left and right all night long, ending up with a match-high eight blocks. Taylor Carico set a great game, finishing with 60 assists while also defending the right side of the court with seven stuffs. The following night, USC looked to Kaczor and Gysin again to lead them to victory, but the Washington defense took the duo out of their game, holding them to only 24 kills on a measly .096 hitting percentage. Freshman Geena Urango did not fare much better at the antennas, notching nine kills to help out the Trojan attack. Gysin picked up her second double-double of the weekend after tying libero Alli Hillgreen for team-highs in digs with 16 in the losing effort. This weekend doesn't get any easier for Mick Haley's crew, as they host visiting California and Stanford this weekend in a pivotal pair of conference matches. A tough win over California on Friday sets up a showdown with Stanford on Saturday.
7. California Golden Bears (16-5, 6-4 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 7
Results From Last Week: at Arizona State (W, 3-1); at Arizona (W, 3-2)
This Week's Matches: at USC (L, 3-2); at UCLA (Sat.)
Summary: California got its fifth-straight victory with a four-game win over Arizona State, thanks to a career-high 26 kills from Angie Pressey. Only 5'8", the powerful outside hitter manhandled the Sun Devil block for a .417 hitting percentage; the Florida native also added 16 digs and four blocks to round out her stat line. Carli Lloyd continues to impress everyone in just her first year in a Cal uniform, notching 55 assists, nine digs, five kills, and two blocks, all while guiding her team to a solid .289 clip. Right side Morgan Beck and middle Ellen Orchard also contributed to the team effort with 13 and 10 kills, respectively. Outside hitter Hana Cutura may not have been the offensive star against Arizona State, but she certainly made her presence known against Arizona, pounding down 25 kills to lead California to a five-game win after losing the first two stanzas. Pressey continued to tear it up from the left side by putting away 19 kills, while Orchard pitched in 12 kills and six blocks out of the middle. Libero Kristen Kathan headed up the back-row defense and ended the match with a match-high19 digs. California will attempt to maintain its third place standing in the Pac-10 as it heads down to Southern California this weekend to face USC and UCLA. After a loss to USC, Cal will try to avoid a sweep on the road vs. UCLA.
8. Wisconsin Badgers (18-2, 10-1 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 8
Summary: In a relatively non-eventful sweep of Ohio State, senior Jocelyn Wack made it a memorable outing after she posted 16 digs that enabled her to surpass Susan Wohlford's school record for career digs. Sophomore Brittney Dolgner complemented J. Wack's defensive skills with a match-high 17 kills to pace the Badger offense. Opposite Katherine Dykstra added to the offensive punch with 11 kills of her own, while middle blocker Audra Jeffers put down 10 kills. Jeffers and setter Jackie Simpson headed up the Badger defense with seven blocks apiece, while middle blocker Taylor Reineke rejected six Buckeye attacks. The following night, Wisconsin hosted Penn State in front of a packed crowd at The Fieldhouse with first place in the Big Ten on the line, but just came up short in the fifth game after over two and a half hours of battling. Dolgner was a huge reason why her team pushed the Nittany Lions to five games, banging away for a match-high 27 kills. Jeffers and Reineke supported Dolgner out of the middle with 13 kills apiece while they hit a combined .480 on the night. On the defensive end, J. Wack produced a match-high 22 digs in the back row, while Jeffers notched four blocks up at the net. Wisconsin will look to rebound this weekend and stay in step with Penn State with road trips to Indiana and Purdue.
9. UCLA Bruins (16-5, 6-4 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 9
Results From Last Week: at Washington (L, 3-0); at Washington State
This Week's Matches: vs. Stanford (L, 3-1); vs. California (Sat.)
Summary: Overwhelmed by a powerful and defensive-minded Washington squad, UCLA fell in straight sets in Seattle last Thursday despite the best efforts of juniors Ali Daley and Kaitlin Sather. The pair of outside hitter each had 12 kills, but it wasn't enough to lead their team to victory in one of the toughest venues in America. Rachell Johnson was very effective out of the middle, putting the ball down at a .400 rate for 10 kills while also adding three blocks. Nellie Spicer handed out 43 assists, but was unable to get her team in an offensive groove, as the Bruins were only able to hit .146 in the losing effort. The following night, UCLA recovered with a sweep of Washington State thanks to Sather's double-double of 17 kills and 10 digs. Daley notched her seventh straight double-double after posting 10 kills and 14 digs. Johnson had another solid match for head coach Andy Banachowski, rejecting four Cougar attacks while also hammering away 16 kills. Middle blocker Katie Mills was the leading blocker with five rejections, while freshman Jazmin Machado pitched in with 11 digs. Currently in a three-way tie for third place in the Pac-10, UCLA would have liked to gain some momentum heading into the second half of the conference season by snaring two victories away from visiting Stanford and California this weekend. But after a loss to Stanford, the Bruins just hope to avoid a sweep.
10. Florida Gators (19-1, 12-1 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 10
Summary: This season, Kelsey Bowers has let her blocking earn her a spot in the starting lineup while letting the seniors carry the load offensively. However, the 6'2" junior unleashed a career-high 17 kills on Auburn, catapulting Florida to a four-game victory. In addition to continually feeding Bowers sets out of the middle, setter Angie McGinnis also dished the rock out the antennas to senior Marcie Hampton and Callie Rivers, as they finished with 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Bowers also impacted the game on the defensive end, turning away seven Tiger attempts, while sophomore Elyse Cusack was again amazing in the back row and ended the match with 17 digs. Cusack continued her excellent play against Georgia, as her match-high 21 digs and superb passing were a pivotal reason why Florida won in three games. Hampton was the only player in the contest to finish with over 10 kills and she collected 20 overall on a .359 clip. Bowers was again the leading blocker with six, while McGinnis, Rivers, and middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth each notched four blocks. Despite dropping a match in the SEC, Florida is still the team to beat and continues to chase another conference crown with contests against LSU on Mississippi coming up on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
11. San Diego Toreros (16-5, 6-1 WCC)
Previous Ranking: 11
Results From Last Week: vs. Portland (W, 3-0); vs. Gonzaga (W, 3-2)
This Week's Matches: at San Francisco (Sat.)
12. Colorado State Rams (15-5, 8-2 MWC)
Previous Ranking: NR
13. Oregon Ducks (16-7, 5-6 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: NR
Results From Last Week: at Oregon State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Arizona (W, 3-0); vs. Arizona State (L, 3-1)
14. Kansas State Wildcats (16-6, 8-4 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 13
Results From Last Week: vs. Texas Tech (W, 3-0); at Oklahoma (L, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Missouri (W, 3-0); vs. Iowa State (Sat.)
15. Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-9, 5-6 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 12
Player of the Week Honors
Carrie DeMange, Duke, 6-2, MB, Sr.
- vs. Virginia Tech – 16 kills, .406 hitting percentage, 10 digs, and four blocks
- vs. Virginia – 29 kills, .369 hitting percentage, 28 digs, and eight blocks
- For the Week – 5.62 kills, 4.75 digs, and 1.50 blocks per game; .381 hitting percentage
Big Ten Conference:
Lauren O'Reilly, Michigan State, 5-10, S, Fr. (Offensive)
- vs. Iowa – 48 assists; .257 team hitting percentage
- vs. Minnesota – 54 assists; .400 team hitting percentage
- For the Week – 17 assists per game; .326 team hitting percentage
Kelli Miller, Purdue, 5-7, L, Jr. (Defensive)
- vs. Indiana – 40 digs
- vs. Michigan – 36 digs
- For the Week – 9.50 digs per game
Big 12 Conference:
Juliann Faucette, Texas, 6-2, OH, Fr. (Offensive)
- vs. Oklahoma – 16 kills, .379 hitting percentage and three blocks
- vs. Missouri – 20 kills, .400 hitting percentage, and four blocks
- For the Week – 6.00 kills and 1.16 blocks per game; .391 hitting
Jordan Larson, Nebraska, 6-1, OH, Jr. (Defensive)
- vs. Missouri – 18 digs and one block
- vs. Kansas – Six digs and four blocks
- vs. Hawaii – 15 digs and one block
- For the Week – 4.33 digs and 0.67 blocks per game
Christal Morrison, Washington, 6-2, OH, Sr.
- vs. UCLA – 13 kills, 12 digs, four blocks, and one ace
- vs. USC – 17 kills, 10 digs, five blocks, and four aces
- For the Week – 5.00 kills, 3.67 digs, 1.50 blocks, and .83 aces per game
Kelsey Bowers, Florida, 6-2, MB, Jr. (Offensive)
- vs. Auburn – 17 kills, .571 hitting percentage, and seven blocks
- vs. Georgia – Nine kills, .500 hitting percentage, and six blocks
- For the Week – 3.71 kills and 1.86 blocks per game; .512 hitting percentage
Amy Pauly, Alabama, 5-4, L, Jr. (Defensive)
West Coast Conference:
Krista Kelley, Santa Clara, 6-2, OH, Fr.
- vs. Pepperdine – 27 kills, .350 hitting percentage, and 21 digs
- vs. Loyola Marymount – 14 kills, .265 hitting percentage, and seven digs
- For the Week – 5.86 kills and 4.00 digs per game; .319 hitting percentage
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