1. Penn State Nittany Lions (26-2, 18-0 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 1
Summary: Penn State secured its fifth straight outright Big Ten title and 11th overall with wins over visiting Wisconsin and Illinois this past week. Proving that her team's triumph in Madison was no fluke, junior Nicole Fawcett was excellent on the left side after hammering out 24 kills on a .395 clip in a four-game win over Wisconsin. Christa Harmotto was solid as usual out of the middle, putting away 15 kills at a .448 rate, while outside hitter Megan Hodge also chipped in 15 kills on a .387 hitting percentage. Freshman Arielle Wilson uncharacteristically hit below .200 against the Badgers, but her front-row defense more than made up for it after recording a match-high 10 blocks. Prior to its match against Illinois, Penn State recognized seniors Kara Callahan, Ann Naylor, Kate Price, and Melissa Walbridge for their years of hard work and dedication. Walbridge gave the home crowd something to cheer about after posting a game-high seven blocks, while setter Alisha Glass helped out on the block with six rejections. Harmotto was virtually unstoppable for head coach Russ Rose, collecting a match-high 15 kills on a .619 hitting percentage, while Hodge was not far behind with 14 kills. Libero Roberta Holehouse led the back-row defense with 15 digs, as the Nittany Lions held the Fighting Illini to a .113 hitting percentage. Next up for Penn State is its final conference matches of the year, going on the road to play Ohio State and Michigan.
2. Nebraska Cornhuskers (25-1, 17-1 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 2
Summary: Nebraska looked strong in a road victory over Texas A&M, using its tough service game to sweep the home team rather easily. Junior All-American Jordan Larson led the serving barrage with a season-high four aces, while outside hitter Christina Houghtelling and opposite Sarah Pavan each had two aces each. Rachel Holloway dished out 40 assists in the win and Pavan received a majority of her sets, pounding down a team-high 20 kills on a .350 clip. In addition to her hard jump serves, Larson ended the night with 11 kills, six digs, and two blocks, while Houghtelling had seven kills, 10 digs, and three blocks. Middle blocker Tracey Stalls had a relatively quiet night against Texas A&M, but exploded for 11 kills on just 13 swings against visiting Oklahoma to lead Nebraska to a three-game victory. Pavan was again the top attacker with 12 kills, though Houghtelling and Larson also pitched in 11 kills to diversify the offense. Houghtelling and libero Kayla Banwarth put forth 16 and 13 digs, respectively, while Houghtelling, Stalls, and middle blocker Amanda Gates collected a team-high three blocks apiece. Nebraska finishes the Big 12 season with hopes of a piece of a conference title still in sight, as long as it can get past Baylor and Texas Tech this week.
3. Stanford Cardinal (26-2, 15-2 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 3
Summary: With victories over visiting Arizona State and Arizona last weekend, coupled with Washington's loss to USC, Stanford captured a share of its second straight Pac-10 Championship and 11th overall. Erin Waller had a productive weekend for the Cardinal, hitting over .400 in both matches and averaging 3.29 kills and 1.00 blocks per game. Freshman Alix Klineman had a rough go at things against the Wildcats, putting away 14 kills on a lowly .085 clip, but had a strong effort against the Sun Devils to counter that performance, swinging away for a match-high 16 kills at a .419 rate. However, the star of the weekend was middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo, as the Pac-10 Player of the Year front-runner dominated her opponents. Arizona State couldn't stop the 6-3 junior's attacks, as her quick hits and slides wrecked havoc on the opposing defenses and she finished with 13 kills and a .647 hitting percentage. Against Arizona, the two-time All-American improved upon her production from the previous night, hammering out 21 kills at an unworldly .769 clip. While beating California this Friday would be the perfect way to send off seniors Bryn Kehoe and Franci Girard in their final regular season match at Maples Pavilion, Stanford can also claim the conference crown outright with a victory over its Bay Area rival.
4. Texas Longhorns (22-3, 17-1 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 4
Summary: As the regular season winds down, Jerritt Elliot's crew is hitting their stride, demolishing opponents left and right after winning 11 out of its last 12 matches by scores of 3-0. Like most teams, visiting Texas Tech had no answer for the uber-athletic Destinee Hooker, as she collected 14 kills on a .340 hitting percentage, chipping in 10 digs for her sixth career double-double. Freshman Juliann Faucette added 10 kills from the left side against the Red Raiders, while middle blocker Lauren Paolini and opposite Ashley Engle put down nine and eight balls, respectively in the three-game victory. Traveling to Waco (Tex.) to face off with host Baylor, Hooker and Faucette both had a match-high 14 kills, while Engle and Paolini contributed 12 kills apiece in Texas' 18th consecutive victory. Playmaker Michelle Moriarty not only spread out the offense, but also displayed tough defense to boot, recording a double-double of 44 assists and 15 digs. Defensively, libero Alyson Jennings topped all players on the court with 17 digs, while Paolini, Hooker, and freshman middle Jennifer Doris rejected a team-high four attacks. Gunning for a Big 12 Championship, Texas can do no worse than tie for first with Nebraska as long as it wins out against Iowa State and Kansas State this week.
5. Washington Huskies (24-3, 13-3 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 5
Summary: Washington may have dropped a five-game thriller to USC, but it still stays ahead in the polls due to the fact that it is a stronger team overall, evidenced by its performance on the road. All three of the Huskies losses have gone the distance, while the Trojans have gotten swept twice away from home, in addition to suffering two four-game defeats. Outside hitter Christal Morrison did her best to deliver a "W" for her team after pounding down a personal-best 30 kills, but was unable to overcome the superhuman effort by USC's Asia Kaczor. Redshirt freshman Becky Perry had a solid game with 12 kills and four blocks, while middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick hit .400 on the night and ended with 14 kills and six blocks. Senior Alesha Deesing returned to her All-American form in them middle with a season-high 13 kills and tied a career-high 11 blocks. Washington recovered nicely the following night with a sweep over UCLA, though it wasn't an easy task. Morison was the leading attacker again with 14 kills, while Deesing and outside hitter Stevie Mussie each had 10 kills apiece in the three-game victory. On the defensive end, Deesing, Perry, and Swarbrick put up six blocks each, while libero Tamari Miyashiro racked up an astounding 28 digs in the back row, which helped the Huskies hold the Bruins to a .122 hitting percentage. If Washington is to hope for a piece of the Pac-10 Championship, it has to beat out Oregon State and Oregon this week and hope that Stanford falters against California.
6. USC Trojans (23-4, 12-4 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 6
Results From Last Week: vs. Washington (W, 3-2); vs. Washington State
This Week's Matches: at Arizona (Fri.); at Arizona State (Sat.)
Summary: Even after falling behind two games to none to Washington at home, USC kept its cool and turned to its All-American Asia Kaczor and her conference-breaking 44 kills lead her team to a thrilling five-game victory. The 6'5" opposite took 100 swings from the left and right side and converted at a .310 rate, making her an easy target for setter Taylor Carico to set up. Carico and outside hitter Jessica Gysin chipped in with 13 kills apiece, while outside hitter Diane Copenhagen put down 11 balls. Not only did Carico set personal bests in kills, but also in assists with 69 and also chipped in a .722 hitting percentage and nine digs. Southern California defeated Washington State the next evening behind the strength of Kaczor and freshman Kimmee Roleder, as they garnered 11 and 10 kills, respectively. With the sweep of the Cougars, the Trojans finished with an unblemished 17-0 home record thanks to a stingy defense that held the visitors to a -.150 hitting percentage. Libero Alli Hillgren had a team-leading 12 digs, while middles Zoe Garrett and Bethany Johansen notched six and four blocks, respectively. A road trip is next on the agenda for Southern California, as it finishes the regular season against Arizona and Arizona State this weekend.
7. Florida Gators (26-1, 19-1 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 7
Summary: Marcie Hampton broke the school record for career attacks in a three-game victory over Alabama and now has 4,102 swings to her credit. The 6'1" outside hitter's 19 kills helped her team register their 25th win of the season and Florida has now has 17 seasons of at least 25 wins, the longest streak in the nation. Hampton collected 10 digs in the triumph for her third straight double-double, while freshman Callie Rivers also recorded a double-double with 11 kills and 15 digs. Middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth contributed 10 kills and three blocks, while setter Angie McGinnis dished out 48 assists while leading the Gators to a .318 hitting percentage. Two days later, Florida honored seniors Hampton, McGinnis, Killingsworth, and Amber McCray on Senior Day before easily dismantling Mississippi in three games. McCray was a monster on the right side, as over half her attempts went down for kills and finished with 11 on the afternoon. Rivers was the leading attacker with 12 kills, while Killingsworth recorded nine kills at a .429 rate. On the defensive end, McGinnis and middle blocker Kelsey Bowers blocked three attacked each, while libero Elyse Cusack paced the back-row defense with 15 digs. With SEC play complete, Florida travels across the country to participate in the Baden Thanksgiving Tournament, facing Yale and host Long Beach State this weekend.
8. California Golden Bears (22-6, 12-5 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 8
Results From Last Week: vs. Arizona (W, 3-0); vs. Arizona State (W,
This Week's Matches: at Stanford (Fri.)
Summary: With wins over Arizona and Arizona State this past weekend, California tied a school record with 12 conference wins. Senior Angie Pressey averaged 5.67 kills and 3.00 digs per game to close out a successful career at Haas Pavilion, while classmate Ellen Orchard had a solid weekend after collecting 3.50 kills and 1.67 blocks per game against the Wildcats and Sun Devils. Left-side hitter Hana Cutura also proved to be a reliable offensive weapon for setter Carli Lloyd to utilize, after putting down 12 and 11 kills, respectively, this weekend. Lloyd did a great job running the offense after handing out 14.83 assists per game through six games, while guiding the Golden Bears to a .282 hitting percentage. Libero Kristen Kathan soldiered the defensive burden in the back row after averaging 5.50 digs per game, while middle blocker Mindi Wiley rejected 2.25 balls per game in limited action this weekend. California will end its season across the Bay at Stanford this Friday, in hopes of avenging a loss suffered in the beginning of conference play to its Bay Area rivals.
9. Wisconsin Badgers (23-4, 15-3 Big Ten)
Previous Ranking: 9
Results From Last Week: at Penn State (L, 3-1); at Ohio State (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: vs. Iowa (Fri.); vs. Minnesota (Sat.)
Summary: Wisconsin's Big Ten Championship hopes were dashed after it dropped a four-game match to host Penn State last Friday. Outside hitter Brittney Dolgnar posted a double-double of 20 kills and 11 digs to lead the Badgers against the Nittany Lions, while right side Katherine Dykstra and middle blocker Audra Jeffers chipped in 10 and nine kills, respectively. Defensively, middle blocker Taylor Reineke rejected seven attacks to lead the front-row defense, while libero Jocelyn Wack anchored the backcourt with 15 digs. Wisconsin bounced back with a win over Ohio State, with Dolgner and Dykstra combining 23 kills on a .465 clip. Reineke was again at the top of her game defensively, shutting down the Buckeyes attack with seven blocks, while Wack and Dolgner collected a match-high 11 digs each. The regular season ends this weekend for Wisconsin, hosting Iowa and Minnesota at the Field House.
10. UCLA Bruins (18-9, 8-8 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 10
Results From Last Week: vs. Washington State (W, 3-0); vs. Washington
This Week's Matches: at Pepperdine (Wed.); at Arizona State (Fri.); at Arizona (Sat.)
Summary: Three players recorded double-doubles as UCLA disposed of winless Washington State last Friday. Pushing the Bruins in Game One and overcoming a 17-10 deficit, the Cougars tied the game up at 22-22 and the two teams slugged it out until an Ali Daley kill gave her squad a 30-29 lead and an attack error from the visitors gave the home team the 31-29 victory. From there on out, UCLA had no troubles with Washington State, as Kaitlin Sather had her seventh-straight double-double with 17 kills and 12 digs, while Daley notched 12 kills and 13 digs. Nellie Spicer set her way to 47 assists and collected 16 digs and six blocks, while middle blocker Rachell Johnson had a solid outing after producing nine kills and nine blocks. The following night, Washington spoiled the final regular season home match for seniors Megan Schoen and Johnson by sweeping UCLA despite the best efforts of Sather and Daley, combing for 28 kills and 29 digs in the losing effort. Libero Jessica Fine spearheaded the back-row defense with 15 digs, while Johnson and Spicer stuffed four Huskies attacks to lead their team up at the net. UCLA closes out the regular season with three road matches, traveling to Malibu to face off with Pepperdine on Wednesday before heading to the desert to play Arizona State and Arizona on the weekend.
11. Kansas State Wildcats (22-7, 14-5 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 11
Results From Last Week: vs. Kansas (W, 3-1); vs. Colorado (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: at Texas (Sat.)
12. Oregon Ducks (19-9, 8-8 Pac-10)
Previous Ranking: 12
Results From Last Week: vs. Oregon State (W, 3-1)
This Week's Matches: at Washington State (Wed.); at Washington (Fri.)
13. San Diego Toreros (21-7, 11-3 WCC)
Previous Ranking: 13
Results From Last Week: at Gonzaga (W, 3-0); at Portland (W, 3-0)
This Week's Matches: Regular Season Finished
14. Cal Poly Mustangs (21-7, 15-1 Big West)
Previous Ranking: 15
Results From Last Week: vs. UC Riverside (W, 3-0); vs. UC Irvine (W,
This Week's Matches: Regular Season Finished
15. St. John's Red Storm (31-3, 13-1 Big East)
Previous Ranking: NR
Dropped: Ohio (14)
Player of the Week Honors
Alisha Glass, Penn State, 6-0, S, Soph.
- vs. Wisconsin – 59 assists, four kills, 10 digs, and four blocks; .346 team hitting percentage
- vs. Illinois – 40 assists, two kills, five digs, and six blocks; .355 team hitting percentage
- For the Week – 14.1 assists, .86 kills, 2.14 digs, and 1.42 blocks per game; .350 team hitting percentage
Big Ten Conference:
Alisha Glass, Penn State (Offensive)
Christine Tan, Minnesota, 5-4, L, Soph. (Defensive)
Big 12 Conference:
Tracy Stalls, Nebraska, 6-4, MB, Sr. (Offensive)
- vs. Texas A&M – Seven skills, .462 hitting percentage, and four blocks
- vs. Oklahoma – 11 kills, .846 hitting percentage, and three blocks
- For the Week – 3.00 kills and 1.17 blocks per game; .654 hitting
Erin Boeve, Iowa State, 6-2, MB, Sr. (Defensive)
- vs. Missouri – 10 digs and 10 blocks
- vs. Kansas – 11 digs and nine blocks
- For the Week – 2.33 digs and 2.11 blocks per game
Asia Kaczor, Southern California, 6-5, OPP, Sr.
- vs. Washington – 44 kills, .310 hitting percentage, and four blocks
- vs. Washington State – 11 kills and one block
- For the Week – 6.68 kills and .63 blocks per game; .285 hitting percentage
Rachel Kieckhaefer, Mississippi, 5-11, S, Jr. (Offensive)
- vs. Auburn – 9 kills, .500 hitting percentage, and 29 assists
- vs. Georgia – 10 kills, .474 hitting percentage, and 32 assists
- For the Week – 10.17 assists and 3.17 kills per game; .486 hitting percentage
Elena Martinez, LSU, 5-8, L, Jr. (Defensive)
- vs. Georgia– 19 digs
- vs. Auburn – 25 digs
- For the Week – 7.33 digs per game
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