1. Penn State Nittany Lions (22-2, 14-0 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 2
Summary: Penn State continues to steamroll past its competition, sweeping Purdue and Indiana in Happy Valley. In front of a nationally-televised audience, the Nittany Lions took three straight games from the Boilermakers thanks to a combined 26 kills from Megan Hodge and Nicole Fawcett. Arielle Wilson continues to make a case for conference Freshman of the Year with 10 kills, five blocks and a .421 hitting percentage against the visiting team, while fellow middle blocker Christa Harmotto had a solid outing with eight kills, five digs, and four blocks. The following evening, strong serving from the home team did not allow the Hoosiers to get in much of an offensive rhythm, holding the visitors to a .094 hitting percentage. Fawcett and defensive specialist led the serving barrage with five and three aces, respectively. On the flip side, playmaker Alisha Glass guided her squad to a .439 hitting percentage after handing out 39 assists. Wilson topped the list of blockers with six stuffs to her name, while libero Roberta Holehouse led the back row defense with 16 digs. Penn State continues to roll through the conference and should remain unbeaten after facing Northwestern and Michigan State this weekend.
2. Washington Huskies (22-2, 11-2 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 3
Summary: Even after graduating three-time First Team All-American Courtney Thompson, Washington has seen no drop-off in its level of play in 2007 and is in prime position to not only capture another Pac-10 Championship, but to also earn a No. 1 seed. Arizona and Arizona State witnessed this first hand, as they both fell in straight games up in Seattle. Outside hitter Stevie Mussie powered the Huskies past Arizona with a double-double of 20 kills and 12 digs, while senior Christal Morrison pitched in solid numbers across the board with 10 kills, 11 digs, two blocks, and one ace. Alesha Dessing and Jessica Swarbrick manned the middle well, as they both hit above .500 against the Wildcats and posted four and two blocks, respectively. Against Arizona State, Morrison was the leading attacker with 17 kills at a .500 clip, while opposite Becky Perry added 14 kills and a match-high six blocks. Jenna Hagglund has done an excellent job filling in for Thompson and her match against the Sun Devils proves she will be a force to reckon with in the future after dishing out 51 assists and digging 14 balls, while guiding her team to a .375 hitting percentage. Washington put its 41-home winning streak on the line when it hosted and lost to Stanford on Thursday. The play California on Friday.
3. Nebraska Cornhuskers (22-1, 14-1 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 1
Summary: Despite registering two victories this past week, Nebraska is struggling to regain its confidence since the Texas loss. Taken to five games by both Missouri and Kansas State, John Cook's troops have better regroup quickly or else its hopes of repeating as national champions will be dashed. Against the Tigers, Sarah Pavan recorded her third double-double of the season with 22 kills and 14 digs, while hitting .347 on the night. Jordan Larson and Christina Houghtelling complemented Pavan well on the left side, combining for 31 kills and 38 digs, while middle blockers Tracy Stalls and Kori Cooper teamed up for 24 kills and five blocks in the winning effort. Three days later, the Huskers rallied behind Pavan's season-high 31 kills to overcome a 0-2 deficit. Quarterback Rachel Holloway established career-highs in assists (72) and blocks (six), while pitching in 13 digs and two aces. Stalls was a force out of the middle, pounding the ball down at a .480 clip for 15 kills, in addition to rejecting a match-high nine attacks. Houghtelling wasn't as explosive at the antennas with only seven kills, but her back-row play more than made up for it, as she put forth a career-high 26 digs to lead all Huskers. With the postseason only a month a way, Nebraska will look to reclaim its swagger when it faces Colorado and Iowa State this week.
4. Texas Longhorns (19-3, 14-1 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 4
Results From Last Week: vs. Oklahoma (W, 3-0); vs. Florida A&M (W,
This Week's Matches: at Kansas (W, 3-0); vs. Texas A&M (Fri.)
Summary: Texas continues to make a case for a No. 1 seed with its performance this past week against Oklahoma and Florida A&M, pummeling both squads by a wide margin. Destinee Hooker was virtually unstoppable against the Sooners, recording 16 kills against zero errors for a .533 hitting percentage. In addition, Hooker's defense continues to improve as the year goes on, registering 12 digs and three blocks. Right side Ashley Engle had a solid all-around game with eight kills on a .471 clip, 12 digs, and three blocks, while outside hitter Juliann Faucette teamed up with middle blocker Lauren Paolini to put away 22 kills and block seven attacks. Setter Michelle Moriarty handed out 44 assists and guided her team to an overall .467 hitting percentage in the winning effort. Moriarty improved upon her own individual performance in a sweep of the Rattlers, dishing out 53 assists and digging 12 attacks. Hooker was again the leading attacker for the Longhorns, putting away 17 kills, while Engle filled up her box score with 14 kills on a .462 clip, eight digs, five blocks, and one ace. Paolini terrorized Florida A&M with both her offense and defense, swinging away for 13 kills at a .545 rate, while stuffing 10 balls. Next up for Texas are a pair of conference matches this week, facing Kansas on the road on Wednesday, followed with a home match against Texas A&M on Friday.
5. Stanford Cardinal (23-2, 12-2 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 5
Summary: Alix Klineman led a balanced attack in Stanford's four-game victory over visiting Oregon, as the 6'5" freshman notched 16 kills and a career-high six blocks. Middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo collected 13 kills on a .667 hitting percentage, while rejecting a match-high eight balls, while classmate Cynthia Barboza recorded her 14th double-double of the season with 12 kills and 13 digs. Opposite Erin Waller had perhaps her best game of the season after drilling the Beavers for 10 kills at a .450 rate and tallying six digs, four blocks, and two aces. The following night, Bryn Kehoe's effortless setting resulted in a team hitting percentage of .435 as at least six players finished with a .400 clip in a sweep over the Beavers. Middle blocker Franci Girard and Klineman teamed up for 26 kills on a .488 clip to pace the Cardinal offense. Klineman also produced 10 digs in the background for her fifth double-double, while Barboza and libero Gabi Ailes registered eight and seven digs, respectively. With a Pac-10 Championship and a No. 1 seed on the line, Stanford broke Washington's 39-matching winning streak on Thursday to avenge its first loss of the year.
6. USC Trojans (20-4, 9-4 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 6
Results From Last Week: vs. UCLA (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: at Oregon (L, 3-1); at Oregon State (Sat.)
Summary: Senior Asia Kaczor continued her recent offensive tear with 21 kills to lead USC past cross-town rival UCLA in four games. Senior Diane Copenhagen is slowly recovering from her abdominal injury, seeing back-row duties against the Bruins and coming up with 14 digs. Her replacement Geena Urango was solid at the antennas, posting a double-double of 17 kills and 12 digs, while Jessica Gysin added 15 kills, four blocks, and three digs to the winning cause. Libero Alli Hilgreen played great defense in the back row, racking up a career-high 31 digs, to lead a stingy Trojan defense that saw five players post 10 or more digs and hold the Bruins to a paltry .137 hitting percentage. Firmly in control of third place in the Pac-10 and a possible Top 8 seed, Southern California heads to Oregon this weekend to cement its status on the national scene.
7. California Golden Bears (20-5, 10-4 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 8
Results From Last Week: vs. Oregon State (W, 3-0); vs. Oregon (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Washington State (W, 3-0); at Washington (Fri.)
Summary: A stingy defense, lead by 16 digs from libero Katherine Kathan and five blocks from middle blocker Ellen Orchard, resulted in a dismal .074 hitting percentage from Oregon State and an easy sweep for host California. In addition to great defense, the Golden Bears were on top of their game offensively, as freshman Carli Lloyd directed her team to a .380 hitting percentage, handing out 41 assists in the process. Sophomore Hana Cutura was the leading attacker from the pins, hammering 15 kills at a .345 rate. California continued its impressive display of offense the following night with a sweep of Oregon, hitting .321 on the night. Senior Angie Pressey was spectacular as usual, putting up All-American numbers with 15 kills at a .500 clip, 11 digs, and five blocks. Cutura followed closely behind in kills with 11, in addition to five digs and one block. Orchard also had a solid night up at the night, collecting nine kills and four blocks in the winning effort. Only two games out of second place, California will look to improve its conference standing when it treks up to the Pacific Northwest to test Washington State and Washington this week.
8. Florida Gators (22-1, 15-1 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 9
Summary: It may have been Halloween when Florida traveled to play South Carolina, but the Gators were all business in a three-game sweep, as the team hit .462 on the night after setter Angie McGinnis helped set-up 46 kills. Outside hitter Marcie Hampton paced the offense with 17 kills at a .483 rate, while middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth had a near perfect night after putting away 11 balls on 12 swings with no errors. On the defensive end, Killingsworth topped everyone on the court with eight blocks, while libero Elyse Cusack managed to dig up 13 attacks. Four days later, Florida exacted revenge on the only team to hand Mary Wise's crew a loss, taking out Arkansas in three games thanks to Amber McCray's powerful swings on the right side; the 6-0 senior finished with a match-high 14 kills on a .462 clip. Freshman Callie Rivers complemented McCray with her double-double of 11 kills and 10 digs, while Hampton contributed to the win with 13 kills, five digs, and two blocks. Junior Kelsey Bower protected the middle with a match-high five blocks, while Cusack had a team-high 14 digs from the back. Florida faces one of its most difficult road trips this weekend, with battles with conference foes Tennessee and Kentucky on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
9. UCLA Bruins (17-7, 7-6 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 10
Results From Last Week: at Southern California (L, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: at Oregon State (W, 3-1); at Oregon (Fri.)
Summary: UCLA was determined to end its two-game losing streak and came into the Galen Center fired up against USC. The first game went in favor of the Bruins, thanks to strong net play that resulted in 9.5 blocks. Unfortunately, Southern California regrouped and found a way around the Bruin wall and its hitting percentage kept on going up with each passing game to hand UCLA a four-game loss. Middle blocker Rachell Johnson led the charge with 14 kills and eight blocks, while Ali Daley and Kaitlin Sather each registered a double-double. Setter Nellie Spicer came up three blocks short of a triple-double, pitching in 45 assists, 11 digs, and seven blocks. Back-row players Jessica Fine and Jade Machado did an admirable job picking up on the Trojans attack, tallying 17 and 11 digs, respectively, while middle blocker Katie Mills stuffed six balls. UCLA tries to break its conference slide when it visits the Pacific Northwest this week with matches against Oregon State and Oregon.
10. Wisconsin Badgers (20-3, 12-2 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 7
Results From Last Week: vs. Michigan State (L, 3-2); vs. Northwestern
This Week's Matches: vs. Illinois (W, 3-0); vs. Michigan (Fri.)
Summary: Even with 22 kills from outside hitter Brittney Dolgner, Wisconsin was unable to overcome a balanced attack from visiting Michigan State and lost at home in four games. Jackie Simpson did her best to run a diverse offense, handing out 55 assists while getting three players to notch double digits in kills; the 5'11" setter also added seven digs and five blocks. Opposite Katherine Dykstra had 14 kills at a .321 hitting percentage and rejected five balls, while middle blocker Taylor Reineke pounded down 12 kills at a .400 clip to go with her four blocks. Audra Jeffers led the front-row defense with six rejections, while Jocelyn Wack had 23 digs in the back. Wisconsin was in danger of losing two in a row after falling behind two games to one to Northwestern and with the Wildcats winning the third game 37-35, the momentum appeared to swing their way. However, the Badgers came through when it mattered the most, winning the fourth game 30-26 and overcoming a Northwestern match point to win the fifth stanza 17-15. Dolgner again led the charge with a double-double of 23 kills and 11 digs, while Reineke was solid in the middle with 15 kills and six blocks. Junior Morgan Salow came in the middle of the match to give her team a boost and came through with six kills and two blocks. Wack was amazing in the back row, recording 30 digs, while defensive specialist Amanda Berkeley picked up 14 balls to help out in the winning effort. Wisconsin doesn't get a chance to recover from its difficult weekend, as it faces two tough teams in Illinois and Michigan next week, where victories are not guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination.
11. Kansas State Wildcats (19-7, 11-5 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 12
12. San Diego Toreros (18-7, 8-3 WCC)
Previous Ranking: 11
Results From Last Week: at Saint Mary's (W, 3-0); at Santa Clara (L,
This Week's Matches: vs. Loyola Marymount (W, 3-2); vs. Pepperdine (Sat.)
13. Duke Blue Devils (20-5, 15-2 ACC)
Previous Ranking: 14
14. Ohio Bobcats (21-4, 13-1 MAC)
Previous Ranking: 15
15. Oregon Ducks (16-9, 5-8 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 13
Results From Last Week: at Stanford (L, 3-1); at California (L, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. USC (W, 3-1); vs. UCLA (Fri.)
Player of the Week Honors
Alexis Crimes, Long Beach State, 6-3, MB, Sr.
- vs. Cal State Fullerton – 20 kills, .548 hitting percentage, and four blocks
- vs. Cal State Bakersfield – 17 kills, .696 hitting percentage, and three blocks
- vs. Cal State Northridge – 21 kills and .636 hitting percentage
- For the Week – 6.44 kills and .78 blocks per game; .621 hitting percentage
Big Ten Conference:
Arielle Wilson, Penn State, 6-3, MB, Fr. (Offensive)
- vs. Purdue – 10 kills, .421 hitting percentage, and five blocks
- vs. Indiana – five kills, .455 hitting percentage, and five blocks
- For the Week – 3.0 kills and 2.2 blocks per game; .433 hitting percentage
Stephanie Lynch, Purdue, 6-3, MB, Jr. (Defensive)
- vs. Penn State – 4 blocks
- vs. Ohio State – 13 blocks
- For the Week – 2.43 blocks per game
Big 12 Conference:
Sarah Pavan, Nebraska, 6-5, OPP, Sr. (Offensive)
- vs. Missouri – 22 kills and .349 hitting percentage
- vs. Kansas State – 31 kills and .375 hitting percentage
- For the Week – 5.30 kills and .363 hitting percentage
Angie Lastra, Kansas State, 5-6, L, Sr. (Defensive)
- vs. Texas Tech – 17 digs
- vs. Nebraska – 32 digs
- For the Week – 6.13 digs per game
Jenna Hagglund, Washington, 5-9, S, Fr.
- vs. Arizona – 44 assists and nine digs; .389 team hitting percentage
- vs. Arizona State – 51 assists and 14 digs; .375 team hitting percentage
- For the Week – 15.83 assists and 3.38 digs per game; .382 hitting
Maria Taylor, Georgia, 6-1, OH, Jr. (Offensive)
- vs. Alabama – 18 kills and four blocks
- vs. Mississippi State – 13 kills and five blocks
- For the Week – 5.17 kills and 1.50 blocks per game
Chloe Goldman, Tennessee, 5-6, L, Soph. (Defensive)
- vs. Mississippi – 40 digs per game
- vs. LSU – 21 digs
- For the Week – 7.62 digs per game
West Coast Conference:
Caroline Walters, Santa Clara, 5-9, L, Sr.
- vs. San Francisco – 18 digs
- vs. San Diego – 16 digs
- For the Week – 4.86 digs per game
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