by Jen Armson-Dyer
With the conference seasons heading into the home stretch, there are several leagues that have key match-ups this week. Here's what's on tap:
UCLA & USC Head to Oregon
One of the biggest remaining Pac-12 tests for No. 1 UCLA and No. 4 USC (besides against each other in the last conference match of the season) is this weekend at No. 20 Oregon. The Ducks play host to the Bruins on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. PT and the Women of Troy on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. UCLA and USC are tied for the Pac-12 lead with 15-2 league records while Oregon sits tied with Washington for fifth with 10-6 marks. Cal and Stanford are tied for third with 13-4 records.
The previous meeting between UCLA and Oregon was a four-game Bruin win on Oct. 15 and the last meeting between USC and Oregon was a four-set Trojan win on Oct. 14.
UCLA (22-3, 15-2 Pac-12, 9-3 on the road) is led by Rachael Kidder (#11) with 4.60 kills per set, Lainey Gera (#6) with 4.84 digs per set and Mariana Aquino (#12) with 1.03 blocks per set.
USC (20-4, 15-2 Pac-12, 9-3 on the road) is led by Alex Jupiter (#7) with 4.35 kills per set, Natalie Hagglund (#3) with 5.27 digs per set and Lauren Williams (#8) with 0.81 digs per set.
Oregon (17-7, 10-6 Pac-12, 8-3 at home) is led by Alaina Bergsma (#2) with 4.60 kills per set, Haley Jacob (#9) with 4.24 digs per set and Milica Krstojevic (#17) with 0.69 blocks per set.
Nebraska Faces Purdue
Ten days after knocking off then-No. 5 Illinois, No. 10 Purdue welcomes No. 2 Nebraska to West Lafayette on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. ET. A link to listen or watch can be found at www.purduesports.com.
The last meeting between the two teams was a four-game Husker win on Oct. 7 in Lincoln, Neb. Nebraska leads the Big Ten standings while Illinois, Purdue and Penn State are all tied for second.
Nebraska (20-2, 13-1 Big Ten, 6-2 on the road) is led by Gina Mancuso (#7) with 3.67 kills per set, Lara Dykstra (#1) with 3.58 digs per set and Hayley Thramer (#17) and Morgan Broekhuis (#12) with 1.31 and 0.95 blocks per set.
Purdue (22-3, 11-3 Big Ten, 13-1 at home) is led by Ariel Turner (#8) with 4.86 kills per set, Blair Bashen (#14) with 4.00 digs per set and Kierra Jones (#12) with 1.35 blocks per set.
Stanford, Cal Travel to Washington
Tied for third in the Pac-12, No. 3 Stanford and No. 5 Cal head north to take on No. 11 Washington. The Cardinal and Huskies meet on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. PT before the Golden Bears and Huskies meet on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. PT. Links to watch both matches can be found at www.gohuskies.com
The previous meeting this season between Stanford and Washington was a three-set Cardinal win on Oct. 15. The last meeting between Cal and Washington was a four-set Golden Bear win on Oct. 14.
Stanford (19-4, 13-4 Pac-12, 7-3 on the road) is led by Rachel Williams (#6) with 4.30 kills per set, Hannah Benjamin (#4) with 3.24 digs per set and Carly Wopat (#2) with 1.57 blocks per set.
California (23-4, 13-4 Pac-12, 7-2 on the road) is led by Tarah Murrey (#4) with 4.15 kills per set, Robin Rostratter (#2) with 5.09 digs per set and Kat Brown (#11) and Shannon Hawari (#7) with 1.17 and 1.16 blocks per set, respectively.
Washington (18-6, 10-6 Pac-12, 9-1 at home) is led by Krista Vansant (#16) with 3.39 kills per set, Jenna Orlandini (#4) with 4.38 kills per set and Bianca Rowland (#15) with 1.57 blocks per set.
Penn State Takes on Illinois
With both teams splitting matches last weekend and Purdue hosting Nebraska, second place in the Big Ten is on the line when No. 9 Penn State travels to No. 7 Illinois on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. CT. A link to watch the match can be found at www.fightingillini.com.
The previous meeting between the two squads was a five-set thriller with Illinois coming out on top 15-12 in the fifth.
Illinois (22-3, 11-3 Big Ten, 10-1 at home) is led by Michelle Bartsch (#6) and Colleen Ward (#4) with 3.83 and 3.65 kills per set, Jennifer Beltran (#3) with 4.16 digs per set and Anna Dorn (#5) with 1.31 blocks per set.
Penn State (18-6, 11-3 Big Ten, 5-3 on the road) is led by Ariel Scott (#1) and Deja McClendon (#18) with 3.55 and 3.42 kills per set, Ali Longo (#23) with 2.95 digs per set and Katie Slay (#16) with 1.43 kills per set.
Miami, Florida State Head to Duke
Duke plays host to ACC-leading Miami and No. 17 Florida State in matches with league title implications. The Blue Devils take on Miami on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. ET before facing Florida State on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET. Links to watch both matches can be found at www.goduke.com.
Florida State leads the ACC as Miami sits second and North Carolina and Duke are tied for third. In the last meetings, Duke lost 3-0 to both squads on the road.
Florida State (19-4, 13-0 ACC, 8-1 on the road) is led by Jekaterina Stepanova (#3) with 3.18 kills per set, Katie Mosher (#2) with 4.65 digs per set and Ashley Neff (#14) with 1.71 blocks per set.
Miami (19-3, 10-3 ACC, 7-2 on the road) is led by Lane Carico (#2) with 3.55 kills per set, Ryan Shaffer (#10) with 4.44 digs per set and Ali Becker (#21) with 0.92 blocks per set.
Duke (15-7, 9-4 ACC, 10-1 at home) is led by Sophia Dunworth (#13) with 2.98 kills per set, Ali McCurdy (#5) with 5.61 digs per set and Christiana Gray (#11) with 0.95 blocks per set.