by Jen Armson-Dyer
If you weren’t already convinced that this season women’s Division I season has no real clear frontrunner for the NCAA title, last weekend should have convinced you. All of the teams in the top five lost, and this week’s AVCA poll has seven different teams receiving first place votes. Here’s a look at some key matchups this week:
UCLA, USC Host Washington
Newly-minted No. 1 UCLA and No. 4 USC play host to No. 10 Washington on Friday and Saturday. Last weekend the Bruins claimed victories over Cal and Stanford while the Women of Troy split with the same teams, falling in three to the Cardinal before sweeping the Golden Bears. The Huskies defeated both Arizona and Arizona State. Links to listen and watch the UCLA/Washington contest on Friday at 7:00 p.m. PT can be found at www.uclabruins.com. A link to watch the USC/Washington match on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. PT can be found at www.usctrojans.com.
The previous meeting this season between Washington and UCLA resulted in a three-game sweep by the Huskies on Sept. 17 in Seattle , while the last matchup between Washington and Southern California ended with a three-game Trojan victory on Sept. 16, which was Washington’s first loss of the season. UCLA and USC currently sit atop the Pac 12 standings while Washington is fifth behind Cal and Stanford.
UCLA (20-3, 13-2 Pac 12, 7-0 at home) is led by Rachael Kidder (#11) with 4.54 kills per set, Lainey Gera (#6) with 4.86 digs per set and Mariana Aquino (#12) with 1.03 blocks per set.
Southern California (18-4, 13-2 Pac 12, 6-1 at home) is led by Alex Jupiter (#8) with 4.38 kills per set and 0.48 aces per set, Natalie Hagglund (#3) with 5.25 digs per set and Lauren Williams (#8) with 0.79 blocks per set.
Washington (18-4, 10-4 Pac 12, 5-3 on the road) is led by Krista Vansant (#16) with 3.41 kills per set, Jenna Orlandini (#4) with 4.36 digs per set and Bianca Rowland (#15) with 1.67 blocks per set.
Illinois Heads To Purdue
After defeating Wisconsin and falling to No. 15 Minnesota, No. 5 Illinois continues its battle through the treacherous Big Ten season with a trip to No. 11 Purdue. The match will be on the Big Ten Network on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET, so you can be sure the black-clad student section in West Lafayette will be out in full force. A link to listen to the match can also be found at www.purduesports.com.
The previous meeting between the two schools was a four-set Illini win on Oct. 1 in Champaign, Ill. Currently, Illinois sits second in the Big Ten while Purdue is fourth.
Illinois (21-2, 10-2 Big Ten, 7-1 on the road) is led by Michelle Bartsch (#6) and Colleen Ward (#4) with 3.96 and 3.61 kills per set, respectively, Jennifer Beltran (#3) with 3.96 digs per set and Anna Dorn (#5) with 1.31 blocks per set.
Purdue (20-3, 9-3 Big Ten, 11-1 at home) is led by Ariel Turner (#8) with 4.85 kills per set, Blair Bashen (#14) with 3.96 digs per set and Kierra Jones (#12) with 1.28 blocks per set.
Oklahoma Hosts Iowa State
Both squads will be looking to get back on track as No. 25 Oklahoma hosts No. 13 Iowa State on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. CT in a match that will be aired on ESPNU. Last weekend the Cyclones dropped a three-game match at Texas and the Sooners fell in three at Missouri.
The previous meeting between the schools was a four-game Iowa State win on Oct. 8 in Ames, Iowa. Texas sits atop the league standings while Iowa State is second and Oklahoma and Texas A&M are tied for third.
Iowa State (17-4, 8-2 Big 12, 8-2 on the road) is led by Carly Jenson (#1) with 3.75 kills per set and 3.28 digs per set, Kristen Hahn (#6) with 5.49 digs per set and Tenisha Matlock (#17) with 0.97 blocks per set.
Oklahoma (19-6, 6-3 Big 12, 13-0 at home) is led by Suzy Boulavsky (#2) with 3.28 kills per set, Maria Fernanda (#4) with 4.94 digs per set and Sallie McLaurin (#14) with 1.42 blocks per set.
Marquette Travels To Cincinnati, Louisville
Marquette takes to the road with implications for the regular-season Big East title on the line as it faces Cincinnati and Louisville on Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. CT each day. A link to watch the Golden Eagles-Bearcats match on Saturday can be found at www.GoBearcats.com. A link to watch the Golden Eagles-Cardinals match on Sunday can be found at www.uoflsports.com.
This will be the first meeting of the season between the schools. Marquette sits atop the Big East standings while Louisville is second and Cincinnati is third.
Marquette (20-6, 10-0 Big East, 9-3 on the road) is led by Ciara Jones (#1) and Ashley Beyer (#5) with 3.60 and 3.32 kills per set, respectively, Julie Jeziorowski (#6) with 5.08 digs per set and Danielle Carlson (#8) with 80 total blocks, good for 0.84 blocks per set.
Cincinnati (18-8, 8-2 Big East, 7-0 at home) is led by Missy Harpenau (#14) and Jordanne Scott (#8) with 3.43 and 3.17 kills per set, respectively, Emily Macintyre (#15) with 3.91 digs per set and Becca Refenes (#11) with 1.11 blocks per set.
Louisville (17-6, 9-1 Big East, 7-1 at home) is led by Lola Arslanbekova (#9) with 5.00 kills per set, Caitlin Welch (#1) with 4.22 digs per set and Tanya Lukyanenko (#11) with 1.14 blocks per set.
Western Michigan, Northern Illinois Host Ball State
The Cardinals take to the road for two important conference matchups. Ball State travels to Western Michigan on Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET before facing Northern Illinois on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. CT.
The previous meeting between Ball State and the two schools resulted in a 3-1 Cardinals win over Northern Illinois on Sept. 30 and a 3-1 win over Western Michigan on Oct. 1. Ball State sits atop the MAC West standings as Northern Illinois and Western Michigan are tied for second in the division.
Ball State (22-3, 11-1 MAC, 7-3 on the road) is led by Kara Bates (#1) with 3.09 kills per set, Catie Fredrich (#16) with 4.65 digs per set and Kelsey Brandl (#15) with 71 total blocks for 0.77 blocks per set.
Western Michigan (21-5, 10-2 MAC, 9-1 at home) is led by Jessica Brown (#14) with 3.13 kills per set, Lena Oliver (#1) with 5.92 digs per set and Ashley Turnage (#10) with 0.86 blocks per set.
Northern Illinois (21-5, 10-2 MAC, 9-3 at home) is led by Lauren Wicinski (#12) with 5.50 kills per set, Amber Walker (#2) with 3.86 digs per set and Mary Kurisch (#10) with 0.92 blocks per set.