by Jen Armson-Dyer
The last week of the regular season is upon us and many conferences and NCAA hopes will be determined in this seven-day stretch. A look at a few:
UCLA Hosts Pac 12 Champ USC
While Southern California has already wrapped up the Pac 12 title, this match is for bragging rights and also NCAA Tournament seeding rights as the No. 1 Trojans travel to cross-town rival No. 4 UCLA on Friday at 5:00 p.m. PT at the John Wooden Center. A link to watch or listen to the match can be found at www.uclabruins.com.
USC clinched the first-ever Pac 12 title with wins over Arizona State and Arizona last weekend while UCLA split with the same pair, falling to Arizona in straight sets. The previous meeting between the Trojans and Bruins was a three-set UCLA win on Sept. 9 at the Galen Center on USC’s campus in the league opener.
Southern California (24-4, 19-2 Pac 12, 11-2 on the road) is led by Alex Jupiter (#7) with 4.44 kills per set, Natalie Hagglund (#3) with 5.10 digs per set and Lauren Williams (#8) with 0.79 blocks per set (71 total blocks).
UCLA (24-5, 17-4 Pac 12, 10-1 at home) is led by Rachael Kidder (#11) with 4.60 kills per set, Lainey Gera (#6) with 4.92 kills per set and Mariana Aquino (#12) with 1.02 blocks per set (83 total blocks).
Cal Travels To Stanford
Another important match for the NCAA puzzle is No. 6 Stanford hosting No 10 California on Friday at 7:00 p.m. PT in a match that will be televised on FSN. Last weekend Stanford split with Oregon (2-3) and Oregon State (3-1) while California dropped both matches to the same schools in five sets each. The last meeting between the Golden Bears and Cardinal this season was a four-set Cal win on Sept. 13 in their Pac 12 opener.
Stanford (21-6, 15-6 Pac 12, 12-2 at home) is led by Rachel Williams (#6) with 4.31 kills per set, Hannah Benjamin (#4) with 3.39 digs per set and Carly Wopat (#2) with 1.61 blocks per set (163 total blocks).
California (25-6, 15-6 Pac 12, 9-2 on the road) is led by Tarah Murrey (#4) with 4.21 kills per set, Robin Rostratter (#2) with 5.13 digs per set and Kat Brown (#11) with 1.21 blocks per set (116 total blocks).
Texas Travels to A&M, Hosts Oklahoma
The No. 5 Longhorns lead No. 14 Iowa State in the Big 12 standings by one match but have two remaining, traveling to Texas A&M on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. CT and hosting Oklahoma on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. CT. A link to watch Wednesday’s match can be found at www.aggieathletics.com while Saturday’s match can be seen on the Longhorn Network or heard at www.texassports.com.
Texas currently leads the Big 12 standings with a 13-1 league record with two matches remaining while Iowa State is second with a 13-2 record and one match left. Texas A&M sits third with a 10-4 league mark and two matches remaining.
The last meeting between Texas and Texas A&M was a 3-0 Longhorn win on Oct. 5 in Austin, while the last meeting between Texas and Oklahoma was the Longhorns’ lone league loss of the season, a five-set heartbreaker on Sept. 28 in Norman, Okla.
Texas (20-4, 13-1 Big 12, 12-0 at home, 7-3 on the road) is led by Haley Eckerman (#10) with 3.45 kills per set, Sydney Yogi (#15) with 3.57 digs per set and Rachael Adams (#5) with 1.12 blocks per set (99 total blocks).
Texas A&M (21-6, 10-4 Big 12, 10-1 at home) is led by Kelsey Black (#2) with 3.29 kills per set, Megan Pendergast (#3) with 4.02 digs per set and Lindsey Miller (#14) with 1.13 blocks per set (112 total blocks).
Oklahoma (20-10, 7-7 Big 12, 4-6 on the road) is led by Suzy Boulavsky (#2) with 3.32 kills per set, Maria Fernanda (#4) with 5.00 digs per set and Sallie McLaurin (#14) with 1.34 blocks per set (146 total blocks).
Penn State Takes On Ohio State
The Nittany Lions head to Columbus to battle Ohio State on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. ET in a match that is important for NCAA seeding purposes for No. 9 Penn State (the top 16 seeds host the first/second rounds) and for RPI purposes for Ohio State (who currently sits at 49 and is receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Poll) to lobby for an at-large NCAA bid. A link to watch the match can be found at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.
The last meeting between the two schools was a three-set Nittany Lion win on Oct. 19 in University Park, Pa. Penn State enters the week tied for second in the Big Ten with No. 8 Purdue and No. 7 Illinois with 14-4 league records as No. 2 Nebraska has clinched at least a share of its first Big Ten title with a 16-2 conference mark. Ohio State is tied with Wisconsin for seventh with 8-10 records.
Penn State (21-7, 14-4 Big Ten, 6-4 on the road) is led by Deja McClendon (#18) with 3.65 kills per set, Ali Longo (#23) with 3.23 digs per set and Katie Slay (#16) with 1.48 blocks per set (155 total blocks). The Nittany Lions also travel to Michigan State on Saturday night.
Ohio State (18-13, 8-10 Big Ten, 8-4 at home) is led by Mari Hole (#14) with 3.99 kills per set, Sarah Mignin (#7) with 4.28 digs per set and Kelli Barhorst (#2) with 0.99 blocks per set (112 total blocks). The Buckeyes also travel to No. 22 Michigan on Friday night.
Tennessee Battles Kentucky Wednesday
An outright SEC title is on the line for No. 15 Tennessee when it hosts No. 16 Kentucky on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. ET in Knoxville, Tenn. A link to watch the match can be found at www.utladyvols.com.
The Lady Vols clinched at least a share of the league title on Sunday afternoon with a three-set sweep of LSU, improving to 18-1 in the conference. The Wildcats sit second with a 17-2 record and with a win, would share the title with Tennessee. The lone blemish on Tennessee’s conference mark came at the hands of … you guessed it … Kentucky, on Oct. 12 in a five-set thriller that had three of the four full sets go to 26-24 and finally ended 15-13 in the fifth.
Tennessee (26-3, 18-1 SEC, 12-0 at home) is led by Kelsey Robinson (#9) with 4.50 kills per set, Ellen Mullins (#10) with 3.75 digs per set and DeeDee Harrison (#8) and 1.13 blocks per set (120 total blocks).
Kentucky (26-4, 17-2 SEC, 7-3 on the road) is led by Ashley Frazier (#4) with 3.15 kills per set, Stephanie Klefot (#11) with 4.74 digs per set and Becky Pavan (#22) with 1.04 blocks per set (97 total blocks).
Here’s a link to the NCAA scoreboard: http://www.ncaa.com/content/womens-di-volleyball-scoreboard. What other matches are you looking forward to this week?