Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NCAA Tournament Right Side Bracket Breakdown


by Jen Armson-Dyer

Yesterday we looked at the left side of the NCAA Division I bracket and today we break down the right side:

Gainesville, Fla., Regional
Champaign, Ill., Subregional – Huff Hall (University of Illinois)
Friday, Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET – Marquette (23-10) versus Western Kentucky (31-3). The Golden Eagles, appearing in their first NCAA tournament in program history, are led by Ciara Jones (#1) with 3.57 kills per set, Julie Jeziorowski (#6) with 5.03 digs per set and Danielle Carlson (#8) with 0.81 blocks per set (96 total blocks). The Lady Toppers, winners of the Sun Belt conference tournament, are led by Jordyn Skinner (#12) with 3.83 kills per set, Ashley Potts (#2) with 4.27 digs per set and Tiffany Elmore (#7) with 0.96 blocks per set. This will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2004 when WKU earned a 3-0 victory.

Friday, Dec. 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET - #3 Seed Illinois (27-4) versus Central Michigan (19-13). The Fighting Illini, who tied for second in the Big Ten, are led by Michelle Bartsch (#6) with 3.86 kills per set, Jennifer Beltran (#3) with 4.05 digs per set and Anna Dorn (#5) with 1.28 blocks per set. The Chippewas, also making their first NCAA appearance after capturing the Mid-American Conference tournament title, are led by Kaitlyn McIntyre (#15) with 3.25 kills per set, Jenna Coates (#2) with 4.28 digs per set and Danielle Gotham (#20) with 0.95 blocks per set. This will be the seventh meeting between the two schools as Central Michigan leads the series 4-2.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Knoxville, Tenn., Subregional – Thompson-Boling Arena (University of Tennessee)
Thursday, Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m. ET – Ohio State (19-14) versus Middle Tennessee State (21-11). The Buckeyes, one of eight Big Ten teams in the field, are led by Mari Hole (#14) with 4.02 kills per set, Sarah Mignin (#7) with 4.30 digs per set and Kelli Barhorst (#2) with 0.97 blocks per set. The Blue Raiders, one of two Sun Belt Conference teams selected to the tournament, are led by Ashley Adams (#3) with 3.82 kills per set, Brynne Henderson (#8) with 2.96 digs per set and Oyinlola Oladinni (#6) with 1.14 blocks per set. The two teams last met in the NCAA Tournament in 2006.

Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7:00 p.m. ET - #14 Seed Tennessee (27-3) versus Duke (21-8). The Lady Vols, the Southeastern Conference champion, are led by Kelsey Robinson (#9) with 4.57 kills per set, Ellen Mullins (#10) with 3.83 digs per set and DeeDee Harrison (#8) with 1.12 blocks per set. The Blue Devils, x, are led by Sophia Dunworth (#13) with 3.06 kills per set, Ali McCurdy (#5) with 5.70 digs per set and Christiana Gray (#11) with 1.07 blocks per set. This will be the first NCAA matchup between the two schools since 2009.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Palo Alto, Calif., Subregional – Maples Pavilion (Stanford)
Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET – Baylor (18-14) versus Michigan (20-12). The Bears, appearing in their fourth NCAA Tournament, are led by Briana Tolbert (#21) with 2.80 kills per set, Allison King (#8) with 5.11 digs per set and Torri Campbell (#7) with 0.91 blocks per set. The Wolverines, in its sixth straight NCAA Tournament, are led by Alex Hunt (#8) with 3.23 kills per set, Sloane Donhoff (#3) with 4.53 digs per set and Jennifer Cross (#2) with 0.97 blocks per set. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

Friday, Dec. 2 at 10:00 p.m. ET - #11 Seed Stanford (21-7) versus Sacred Heart (27-7). The Cardinal, one of two teams to make every NCAA Tournament, are led by Rachel Williams (#6) with 4.32 kills per set, Hannah Benjamin (#4) with 3.36 digs per set and Carly Wopat (#2) with 1.59 blocks per set. The Pioneers, the Northeast Conference champions, are led by Kimmee Roleder (#9) with 3.94 kills per set, Jessica Colberg (#13) with 4.14 digs per set and Johanna Ovsenek (#15) with 0.67 blocks per set.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 10:00 p.m. ET.

Cedar Falls, Iowa, Subregional – McLeod Center (Northern Iowa)
Friday, Dec. 2 at 6:00 p.m. ET – Florida (24-5) versus Missouri (21-12). The Gators, traveling for the first and second rounds for only the second time ever in program history and appearing in their 21st straight tournament, are led by Kristy Jaeckel (#6) with 3.37 kills per set, Taylor Unroe (#55) with 3.61 digs per set and Betsy Smith (#14) with 0.97 blocks per set. The Tigers, who defeated Northern Iowa in the first round last season, are led by Lisa Henning (#5) with 4.12 kills per set, Priscilla Armendariz (#10) with 3.91 digs per set and Whitney Little (#8) with 1.08 blocks per set.

Friday, Dec. 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET - #6 Seed Northern Iowa (32-1) versus Niagara (25-8). The Panthers, winners of the Missouri Valley Conference who are on a 23-match winning streak, are led by Michelle Burow (#16) with 2.64 kills per set, Candice Burke (#19) with 4.76 digs per set and Krista DeGeest (#18) with 1.33 blocks per set. The Purple Eagles, who won their third straight MAAC title to earn an automatic bid to the tournament, are led by Hannah Hedrick (#10) with 3.67 kills per set, Sam Morgan (#5) with 5.96 digs per set and Amanda Wilken (#7) with 0.71 blocks per set. This will be second meeting between the two schools, with the first a three set UNI win in 2003.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Honolulu, Hawaii, Regional
Los Angeles, Calif., Subregional – Galen Center (Southern California)
Friday, Dec. 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET – Tulsa (27-6) versus Oklahoma (21-11). The Golden Hurricane, the Conference USA champions, are led by Tyler Henderson (#7) with 4.81 kills per set, Jessica Adams (#1) with 4.86 digs per set and Carly Boatwright (#8) with 0.70 blocks per set. The Sooners, making their eighth overall appearance, are led by Suzy Boulavsky (#2) with 3.28 kills per set, Maria Fernanda (#4) with 4.96 digs per set and Sallie McLaurin (#14) with 1.35 blocks per set. The two teams met last year in the NCAA second round, with Oklahoma winning in five.

Friday, Dec. 2 at 10:00 p.m. ET - #7 Seed Southern California (25-4) versus Yale (18-6). The Women of Troy, the Pac 12 champion, are led by Alex Jupiter (#7) with 4.45 kills per set, Natalie Hagglund (#3) with 5.03 digs per set and Lauren Williams (#8) with 0.80 blocks per set. The Bulldogs, winners of the Ivy League making their third tournament appearance, are led by Mollie Rogers (#9) with 3.26 kills per set, Maddie Rudnick (#5) with 4.63 digs per set and McHaney Carter (#3) with 0.68 blocks per set. This will be the first meeting between the two schools.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 10:00 p.m. ET.

Honolulu, Hawaii, Subregional – Stan Sheriff Center (University of Hawaii)
Thursday, Dec. 1 at 10:00 p.m. ET – Oregon (21-9) versus Colorado State (23-5). The Ducks, reaching the postseason for the fifth time in the last six seasons, are led by Alaina Bergsma (#2, and who was also crowned Miss Oregon USA on Sunday) with 4.44 kills per set, Haley Jacob (#9) with 4.29 digs per set and Ariana Williams (#7) with 0.61 blocks per set (67 total blocks). The Rams, the Mountain West Conference champions, are led by Katelyn Steffan (#4) with 3.66 kills per set, Izzy Gaulia (#1) with 4.59 digs per set and Megan Plourde (#5) with 1.68 blocks per set. This will be the second meeting between the two schools, with the last a 2-1 Oregon win in 1984.

Thursday, Dec. 1 at 11:59 p.m. ET - #10 Seed Hawaii (29-1) versus Northern Colorado (22-8). The Rainbow Wahine, the WAC Champion who have won their last 24 matches, are led by Kanani Danielson (#5) with 4.04 kills per set and 2.95 digs per set and Brittany Hewitt (#4) with 1.35 blocks per set. The Bears, the Big Sky Conference regular-season and tournament champions, are led by Kelley Arnold (#17) with 3.87 kills per set, Amanda Arterburn (#2) with 5.21 digs per set and Andrea Spaustat (#9) with 0.90 blocks per set. This will be the first meeting between the two schools.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Friday, Dec. 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Malibu, Calif., Subregional – Firestone Fieldhouse (Pepperdine)
Thursday, Dec. 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET – North Carolina (23-8) versus California (26-6). The Tar Heels, making their third NCAA appearance in the last four years and 13th overall, are led by Emily McGee (#11) with 3.96 kills per set, Kaylie Gibson (#4) with 4.66 digs per set and Chaniel Nelson (#10) with 1.01 blocks per set. The Golden Bears, who finished third in the Pac-12, are led by Tarah Murrey (#4) with 4.27 kills per set, Robin Rostratter (#2) with 5.17 digs per set and Kat Brown (#11) with 1.21 blocks per set. This will be the second meeting between the two schools, with the first a 3-1 Cal win in 1983.

Thursday, Dec. 1 at 10:30 p.m. ET - #15 Seed Pepperdine (22-6) versus Missouri State (22-8). The Waves, the West Coast Conference champions, are led by Kim Hill (#13) with 3.90 kills per set, Stevi Robinson (#10) with 3.55 digs per set and Samantha Cash (#16) with 1.25 blocks per set. The Bears, an at-large selection out of the Missouri Valley Conference for their seventh bid in the last nine seasons, are led by Karen Rivatto (#13) with 3.05 kills per set, Ashley Mason (#14) with 4.69 digs per set and Calli Norman (#21) with 1.06 blocks per set. Pepperdine leads the series 3-0, with the last meeting in 1995.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Friday, Dec. 2 at 10:00 p.m. ET.

Lincoln, Neb., Subregional – NU Coliseum (University of Nebraska)
Thursday, Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. ET – Kansas State (20-10) versus Wichita State (20-10). The Wildcats, one of seven Big 12 teams in the tournament, are led by Kaitlynn Pelger (#17) with 4.12 kills per set and 1.02 blocks per set and Kuulei Kabalis (#15) with 3.74 digs per set. The Shockers, who fell to Northern Iowa in the MVC conference tournament and are making their fifth-straight appearance, are led by Emily Adney (#6) with 3.49 kills per set, Sarah Waldorf (#4) with 5.05 digs per set and Ashley Andrade (#28) with 1.07 blocks per set. The two teams last met in 2007, which was a 3-1 Kansas State win.

Thursday, Dec. 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET - #2 Seed Nebraska (24-4) versus Jackson State (26-9). The Huskers, the Big Ten champions, are led by Gina Mancuso (#7) with 3.54 kills per set, Lara Dykstra (#1) with 3.62 digs per set and Brooke Delano (#8) with 0.94 blocks per set (98 total blocks). The Tigers, the winners of the Southwestern Athletic Conference for its first-ever NCAA berth, are led by Christine Edwards (#20) with 4.21 kills per set, Daedra Carline (#3) with 3.33 digs per set and Paige Williams (#5) with 1.26 blocks per set. This is the first meeting between the two schools.

A quick moment of recognition to all of the support staffs who rarely receive kudos for the great jobs they do and the long, odd hours they put in, especially during tournament time – the SIDs/media relations and marketing directors, event staff/facility managers, athletic trainers, academic advisers, strength coaches and administrators.

Good luck to all of the programs – let’s see where this week takes us!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NCAA Left Side Bracket Breakdown

by Jen Armson-Dyer


A Look Ahead – NCAA Division I First/Second Rounds

What goes perfectly with an unpredictable year in women’s college volleyball? Well, an unpredictable NCAA bracket of course! Read on for an overview of the left side of the bracket for the First and Second Rounds (tune in Wednesday for the right side of the bracket!)

Lexington, Ky., Regional
Austin, Texas, Subregional – Gregory Gym (University of Texas)
Friday, Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET – Michigan State (21-11) versus Arizona (19-12). The Spartans finished sixth in the Big Ten and are led by Jenilee Rathje (#5) with 4.27 kills per set, Kori Moster (#1) with 3.96 digs per set and Alexis Mathews (#18) with 1.29 blocks per set. The Wildcats finished seventh in the Pac-12 and are led by Madison Kingdon (#9) with 3.46 kills per set, Candace Nicholson (#33) with 3.96 kills per set and Cursty Jackson (#13) with 0.92 blocks per set. This will be the first meeting between the two schools since 1990.

Friday, Dec. 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET - #1 Seed Texas (22-4) versus Texas State (27-7). The Longhorns finished first in the Big 12 and are led by Haley Eckerman (#10) with 3.51 kills per set, Sydney Yogi (#15) with 3.45 digs per set and Rachael Adams (#5) with 1.14 blocks per set. The Bobcats earned an automatic bid after winning the Southland Conference tournament (and regular season) and are led by Melissa Toth (#13) with 3.01 kills per set, Laura Whalen (#8) with 3.15 digs per set and Ashlee Hilbun (#10) with 1.16 blocks per set. This will be the 66th meeting between the two schools, including the fifth time in NCAA action.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

College Station, Texas, Subregional – Reed Arena (Texas A&M)
Thursday, Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. ET – Kentucky (26-5) versus Dayton (25-6). The Wildcats finished tied for second in the SEC with Florida and are led by Ashley Frazier (#4) with 3.12 kills per set, Stephanie Klefot (#11) with 4.75 digs per set and Becky Pavan (#22) with 1.06 blocks per set. The Flyers won the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament and are led by Rachel Krabacher (#2) with 4.53 kills per set, Paige Vargas (#3) with 4.74 digs per set and Megan Campbell (#12) with 1.43 blocks per set. Dayton leads the all-time series 2-1 with the last meeting a 3-0 Flyer win in 2002.

Thursday, Dec. 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET - #16 Seed Texas A&M (22-7) versus Lipscomb (20-10). The Aggies finished third in the Big 12 and are led by Kelsey Black (#2) with 3.27 kills per set, Megan Pendergast (#3) with 4.03 digs per set and Lindsey Miller (#14) with 1.14 blocks per set. The Bison captured their third straight Atlantic Sun title and are led by Kaycee Green (#10) with 3.52 kills per set, Stephanie Rex (#7) with 3.80 digs per set and Katie Rose (#4) with 0.80 blocks per set. This will be the first meeting between the two schools.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Los Angeles, Calif., Subregional – Wooden Center (UCLA)
Friday, Dec. 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET – Long Beach State (23-6) versus San Diego (27-4). The 49ers claimed the Big West title, will be making their 25th-consecutive NCAA appearance and are led by Haleigh Hampton (#8) with 2.94 kills per set (323 total kills) and 1.57 blocks per set and Lauren Minkel (#15) with 3.90 digs per set. The Toreros finished second in the West Cost Conference and are led by Chloe Ferrari (#2) with 2.93 kills per set (325 total kills), Kandiss Anderson (#10) with 4.28 digs per set and Katie Hoekman (#9) with 0.91 blocks per set. This will be the second consecutive season these two teams have met in the first round of the NCAA tournament, with Long Beach State winning last year’s meeting in three.

Friday, Dec. 2 at 11:00 p.m. ET - #9 Seed UCLA (24-6) versus Maryland-Eastern Shore (24-6). The Bruins finished second in the Pac-12 and are led by Rachael Kidder (#11) with 4.59 kills per set, Lainey Gera (#6) with 4.87 kills per set and Mariana Aquino (#12) with 1.02 blocks per set (83 total blocks). The Hawks claimed the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for their first-ever NCAA bid and are led by Saitaua Iosia (#19) with 4.14 kills per set, Rebecca Prado (#8) with 3.11 digs per set and Ndidi Ibe (#13) with 0.98 blocks per set.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 10:00 p.m. ET.

University Park, Pa., Subregional – Rec Hall (Penn State)
Friday, Dec. 2 at 5:00 p.m. ET – Delaware (20-12) versus American (23-10). The Blue Hens, winners of the Colonial Athletic Association, are led by Katie Hank (#2) with 3.25 kills per set, Cara Rosehill (#1) with 4.19 digs per set and Karina Evans (#14) with 1.03 blocks per set. The Eagles, the Patriot League Champions, are led by Sara Rishell (#1) with 3.15 kills per set and 1.03 blocks per set and Juliana Crum (#5) with 2.59 digs per set. This will be the 15th meeting between the two schools and the first since 2000.

Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET - #8 Seed Penn State (23-7) versus Liberty (20-12). The Nittany Lions, the four-time defending NCAA Champion, finished tied for second in the Big Ten and are led by Deja McClendon (#18) with 3.59 kills per set, Ali Longo (#23) with 3.31 digs per set and Katie Slay (#16) with 1.44 blocks per set. The Flames won the Big South title and are led by Lillie Happel (#12) with 3.39 kills per set, Kelly Haseman (#10) with 4.42 digs per set and Loren Thomas (#21) with 1.32 blocks per set.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Minneapolis, Minn., Regional
West Lafayette, Ind., Subregional – Holloway Gym (Purdue)
Friday, Dec. 2 at 5:00 p.m. ET – Ball State (25-7) versus Louisville (23-8). Ball State, one of four teams out of the Mid-American conference, is led by Kara Bates (#1) with 3.25 kills per set, Catie Fredrich (#16) with 4.61 digs per set and Kelsey Brandl (#15) with 0.75 blocks per set. Louisville, the Big East regular-season champion, is led by Lola Arslanbekova (#9) with 4.93 kills per set, Caitlin Welch (#1) with 4.39 digs per set and Tanya Lukyanenko (#11) with 1.08 blocks per set. The two teams last met in NCAA action in 2002, with Louisville coming out on top in three.

Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET - #5 Seed Purdue (27-4) versus Morehead State (26-7). The Boilermakers, who tied for second in the Big Ten with Penn State and Illinois, are led by Ariel Turner (#8) with 4.92 kills per set, Blair Bashen (#14) with 4.04 digs per set and Kierra Jones (#12) with 1.24 blocks per set. The Eagles, the Ohio Valley regular-season and tournament champions who earned their first-ever NCAA bid, are led by Ellie Roberson (#8) with 3.89 kills per set, Leslie Schellhaas (#10) with 5.41 digs per set and Laura McDermott (#2) with 0.97 blocks per set.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Tallahassee, Fla., Subregional – Tully Gym (Florida State)
Friday, Dec. 2 at 4:30 p.m. ET – Cincinnati (26-9) versus Samford (29-4). The Bearcats, who earned an automatic bid with its first Big East tournament title, are led by Jordanne Scott (#8) with 3.48 kills per set, Emily MacIntyre (#15) with 4.02 digs per set and Becca Refenes (#11) with 1.13 blocks per set. The Bulldogs, winners of the Southern Conference, are led by Elizabeth Neisler (#7) with 3.95 kills per set, Alexis Bauer (#13) with 4.42 digs per set and Lauren Hutchinson (#11) with 0.98 blocks per set. This will be the first meeting between the two schools.

Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:00 p.m. ET - #12 Seed Florida State versus Albany (N.Y.). The Seminoles, the Atlantic Coast Conference champions, are led by Jekaterina Stepanova (#3) with 3.26 kills per set, Katie Mosher (#2) with 4.57 digs per set and Ashley Neff (#14) with 1.61 blocks per set. The Great Danes, the America East Conference winners, are led by Casey Wright (#10) with 3.37 kills per set and 0.81 blocks per set and Laurie Gonzalez (#9) with 5.33 digs per set. This will be the second meeting of the year between the two teams, as FSU claimed a 3-0 win on Aug. 27.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 6:00 p.m. ET.

Minneapolis, Minn., Subregional – Sports Pavilion (Minnesota)
Friday, Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET – Western Michigan (24-8) versus Washington (23-7). The Broncos, an at-large selection out of the MAC, are led by Jessica Brown (#14) with 2.98 kills per set, Lena Oliver (#1) with 5.70 digs per set and Ashley Turnage (#10) with 0.84 blocks per set. The Huskies, who tied for fourth in the Pac-12, are led by Krista Vansant (#16) with 3.55 kills per set, Jenna Orlandini (#4) with 4.51 digs per set and Lauren Barfield (#8) with 1.29 blocks per set.

Friday, Dec. 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET - #13 Seed Minnesota (18-11) versus North Dakota State (25-8). The Golden Gophers, who finished fifth in the Big Ten, are led by Ashley Wittman (#13) with 4.52 kills per set, Jessica Granquist (#2) with 4.58 digs per set and Ariana Filho (#11) with 0.90 blocks per set. The Bison, winners of the Summit League, are led by Brynn Joki (#10) with 3.21 kills per set, Andrea Henning (#11) with 4.38 digs per set and Janna Deyle (#4) with 0.84 blocks per set. This will be the third meeting between the two schools in the NCAA tournament, including last season when Minnesota claimed the match in three.

The winners of each of the first round matches will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Ames, Iowa, Subregional – Hilton Coliseum (Iowa State)
Friday, Dec. 2 at 6:00 p.m. ET – Northern Illinois (28-6) versus Miami (FL)(25-4). The Huskies, earning an at-large bid out of the MAC for their first appearance since 2001, are led by Lauren Wicinski (#12) with 5.32 kills per set, Amber Walker (#2) with 3.89 digs per set and Mary Kurisch (#10) with 0.88 blocks per set. The Hurricanes, who finished second in the ACC, are led by Lane Carico (#2) with 3.70 kills per set, Ryan Shaffer (#10) with 4.33 digs per set and Emani Sims (#16) with 0.95 blocks per set.

Friday, Dec. 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET - #4 Seed Iowa State (22-5) versus UW-Milwaukee (25-4). The Cyclones, who finished second in the Big 12, are led by Carly Jenson (#1) with 3.92 kills per set, Kristen Hahn (#6) with 5.54 digs per set and Tenisha Matlock (#17) with 1.03 blocks per set. The Panthers, winners of the Horizon League regular-season and tournament titles, are led by Kerri Schuh (#7) with 3.36 kills per set and 1.03 blocks per set and Morgan Potter (#1) with 4.80 digs per set. The two teams have met several times over the last couple of years, including Iowa State wins in Ames in 2009 and 2010.

The winners of each of the first and second round matches will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for a preview and links for the right side of the bracket!


Monday, November 21, 2011

A look Ahead - Nov. 21-27


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?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekend Highlights in D-I, D-II, and D-III

by Jonathan Ketterer

Ladies and gentlemen, the weekend is finally here, and what better way to celebrate than with some quality entertainment in nearly all divisions of collegiate volleyball. Today we will get to see the Division III Elite Eight matchups, some second round action for the Division II Tournament, and as for Division I, we will be seeing the beginning of some conference tournaments as well as a big Pac-12 matchup between Stanford and Oregon tonight in Palo Alto.

Eastern's five seniors (left to right): Horning, Poole,
Schlager, Reinhold, Kummerer
First let me say that this whole season, I have been spending my Mondays working with Division III results and doing some occasional work with archived records and awards. With that said, I have had a rather emotional attachment to the Division III game, and naturally with the tournament, I have been a little more attentive than normal. Two teams that I have been watching win all season, SUNY Cortland and Eastern University, have managed to make it to the Elite Eight. Sadly, I am writing this blog as the Red Dragons of SUNY Cortland are playing against the Christopher Newport Captains, and I have no way of watching it (Editors note: CNU went on to defeat SUNY Cortland, 3-1.  Yes, matches can be viewed live online, but his computer is a little slow to stream live matches - sorry Jonathan!) . Behind Region Coach of the Year Pam Hoerup, the Red Dragons have posted a Division III-best 42-1 record going into today's quarterfinal matchup, which is the first in school history for Cortland. Another great matchup today will be when St. Thomas (Minn.) takes on Eastern tonight at 6:30 EST. As I said, Eastern has been an interesting team to follow, especially considering that they have what some may consider two of the best players in Division III in Courtney Reinhold and Maria Horning. The two seniors both grabbed D-III All-American honors for the fourth time in their four years of competition, making them the first duo to ever do so. It also doesn't hurt that coach Mark Birtwistle won the Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year for a second straight year after the team claimed their fourth straight Freedom Conference Title.

In the Division II game, we have second round action involving some big matchups, one in particular that catches my eye is the match between four-time defending champion #3 Concordia-St. Paul and #7 University of Minnesota Duluth. Coach Brady Starkey has been a beast at the helm for the Golden Bears, and if you're wanting to hear something you don't already know, it might be that he just eclipsed the 300-win mark...in only his ninth season. Minnesota Duluth however looks to make things competitive after a decisive sweep of #10 Wayne State in the opening round yesterday.

In Division I news, the Sun Belt Tournament is underway as one of my favorite teams in the game and the #1 seed in the SBC tourney, Western Kentucky, looks to finish the season strong. The Atlantic-10 tournament is also getting underway, and the #1 seed Dayton Flyers are looking to defend their claim as two-time defending A-10 tourney champions, but look for #2 seed Xavier to play hard in what I might say is one of the most underrated rivalries in sports.The Pac-12 is hot right now with 4 of the top 5 teams in USC, UCLA, California, and Stanford, and if you're looking for a top-15 match this weekend, I'd like to think that Oregon at Stanford will be a great one. Oregon also plays at Cal on Saturday, and as a Ducks fan myself, I am rooting for them to repeat what they did last month when they beat both Cal and Stanford at home. Additionally the Ducks beat then-No.1 UCLA last Friday in an awesome comeback win in Eugene, before losing in a well-played effort against USC on Saturday.

In closing, I'd like to give a big shoutout to 2nd Team All-SBC and Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Ashley Potts and her teammate 1st Team All-SBC setter Melanie Stutsman. Congrats ladies! And don't forget, if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns, e-mail me at jonathan.ketterer@avca.org. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Look Ahead – Nov. 14-20

by Jen Armson-Dyer


Purdue Travels To Penn State
One match separates No. 8 Purdue and No. 12 Penn State after the Boilermakers took out then-No. 2 Nebraska in straight sets last weekend and the Nittany Lions split with No. 7 Illinois and Northwestern. Penn State hosts Purdue on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. ET at Rec Hall. A link to watch the match can be found at www.GoPSUsports.com. No. 4 Nebraska leads the conference with a 14-2 record while Illinois and Purdue are tied for second with 13-3 records and Penn State is fourth with 12-4.

The previous meeting between Penn State and Purdue was a four-set Nittany Lion win on Oct. 14 in West Lafayette, Ind.

Purdue (24-3, 13-3 Big Ten, 5-2 on the road) is led by Ariel Turner (#8) with 4.82 kills per set, Blair Bashen (#14) with 4.04 digs per set and Kierra Jones (#12) with 1.31 blocks per set.

Penn State (19-7, 12-4 Big Ten, 11-2 at home) is led by Deja McClendon (#18) and Ariel Scott (#1) with 3.59 and 3.49 kills per set, respectively, Ali Longo (#23) with 3.08 digs per set and Katie Slay (#16) with 1.43 blocks per set.

San Diego Hosts Pepperdine
The No. 18 Waves dropped their first league match last weekend to Saint Mary’s in a sweep  and will take on second-place and No. 20 San Diego Saturday afternoon at 1pm PT as one of their two remaining WCC matches. A link to watch the match can be found at www.usdtoreros.com. The last meeting between the two schools was a three-set Pepperdine win on Oct. 24 in Malibu.

Pepperdine (19-6, 13-1 WCC, 7-4 on the road) is led by Kim Hill (#13) with 3.82 kills per set, Stevi Robinson (#10) with 3.52 digs per set and Samantha Cash (#16) with 1.20 blocks per set.

San Diego (26-3, 11-3 WCC, 13-1 at home) is led by Amber Tatsch (#7) with 3.11 kills per set, Kandiss Anderson (#10) with 4.30 digs per set and Katie Hoekman (#9) with 0.93 blocks per set.

UC Santa Barbara Takes On Cal State Northridge
In a match that is heavy more in RPI significance than conference significance, UC Santa Barbara (RPI 53) travels to Cal State Northridge (RPI 118) on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. PT. The last meeting between the two schools was a 3-0 UCSB win just two weeks ago.

UC Santa Barbara (16-11, 9-5 Big West, 4-6 on the road) is led by Stacey Schmidt (#11) and Leah Sully (#4) with 2.98 and 2.96 kills per set, respectively, Chelsey Lowe (#2) with 5.43 digs per set and Schmidt with 0.94 blocks per set.

Cal State Northridge (14-12, 8-6 Big West, 5-3 at home) is led by Mahina Haina (#10) with 3.37 kills per set, Cindy Ortiz (#6) with 4.49 digs per set and Casey Hinger (#1) with 1.15 blocks per set.

Big East Tournament
Louisville (21-7, 13-1) earned the top seed in the Big East Tournament after capturing its first conference regular-season title since joining the conference in 2005. The Cardinals have won four of the last five Big East Championships, including last season. Cincinnati (22-8, 12-2) picked up the second seed while third-seed Marquette (22-8, 12-2) will play host to the tournament on Nov. 18-20 at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee. Links to watch the Quarterfinals and Semifinals can be found on the Big East website at http://www.bigeast.org/Sports/WomensVolleyball/2011VolleyballChampionshipCentral.aspx and the Championship match will televised on ESPNU Sunday at 3:00 p.m. CT.

Rounding out the eight-team field is No. 4 seed Syracuse (19-11, 8-6), No. 5 Notre Dame (15-11, 8-6), No. 6 Seton Hall (17-12, 8-6), No. 7 Villanova (17-12, 8-6) and No. 8 Pittsburgh(18-12, 7-7).

CAA Tournament
The regular-season in the Colonial Athletic Conference was one of the most competitive in recent history, with three teams recording 10 wins and Delaware and Northeastern both finishing with 11-3 records. The Blue Hens, winners of three of the past four CAA titles, earned the tie-breaker courtesy of sweeping the season series between the two schools. The CAA Tournament will be held Nov. 18-20 on Delaware’s Barbara Viera Court at the Carpenter Sports Building in Newark, Del. The winner of the tournament earns the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Links to live stats and a free web stream can be found at www.bluehens.com.

The top-seed is the second straight for Delaware (18-12, 11-3 CAA) and it will be Northeastern’s (21-5, 11-3 CAA) fifth tournament appearance in the last six years. Other teams in the hunt for the bid are third-seeded Towson (23-8, 10-4), fourth-seeded Georgia State (14-17, 8-6), fifth-seeded James Madison (19-10, 8-6) and sixth-seeded VCU (15-15, 8-6).

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?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Some Thoughts on Sand Volleyball

by Jonathan Ketterer

For this week's blog, I figured I would talk about something that has been one of my favorite parts of volleyball, and that is the sand game. As a kid, I always loved watching beach volleyball in the Olympics, and the way that Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh took the gold in 2004 and 2008 for the United States made the entertaining matches that much more enjoyable. With that said I am ecstatic about the concept of an annual college season for sand volleyball, and I think everyone involved with volleyball should be as well.

At past AVCA convention seminars (2007, 2008, and 2009), Coach Al Scates has had an ongoing series called "Tales from the Locker Room." I have had the opportunity to listen to a few of them over the past month or so, and if you are an AVCA member you can also access the audio files under their respective convention pages here. The reason I bring this up though is because during these lectures, Coach Scates routinely speaks of how the beach was always the place to be if you were a good volleyball player. In fact, he states that on many occasions, some of the best players he has ever watched were beach players who would routinely hang around the courts. Personally, it just makes sense to me, because with only two players on the court, each team has to have good reactive instincts and a great understanding of the importance of teamwork. So given that there exists some similar qualities that are needed in both the indoor and sand volleyball games, is it logical to think that one may be good training for the other? I would like to think so.

This example may be a little wild considering her outstanding career in both indoor and sand, but I'd like to think that Kerri Walsh was able to use her skills in indoor to help develop her outdoor game. Additionally, for girls who have the aspirations to play professionally, beach volleyball may be a great opportunity to reach that goal. Given that the market nowadays for professional volleyball may be small, I think that with the expansion of a sand division in the college game, there may be an increase in the market for professional sand players. One thing I will definitely be curious to see is how the schools are going to form their teams. It seems likely that adding another coach to the payroll may not come into question, but is it reasonable to assume that some of the women's indoor players will be playing competitively year round? For the sake of the student-athletes and their studies, I would doubt that players would want to be stressed with sports this much.

Another big draw for me with sand volleyball is that it may be a lot more accessible to players who are in areas where sand is prevalent, like Florida or California. In these areas, players have the ability to play pick-up on the beach like basketball, unlike indoor where times must be set aside to use courts.

In a chat I had with Pat Kelly, a player on the University of Kentucky's men's club volleyball team, he expressed that "most people associate volleyball with sand volleyball instead of indoor, so hopefully it will broaden the market for volleyball and make it a bigger sport." We also shared the same feelings about those who gain skills in indoor and move into sand competition. Although when I asked Pat if he had to choose between the two, he said that he felt his skills were more aimed toward the fast-pace of the indoor game. So with that said, there shouldn't be too much fear about outstanding indoor players being lost to the sand game, especially considering most athletes sacrifice one sports opportunity for another.

I hope you enjoyed hearing a bit about my thoughts, and as always, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, feel free to e-mail me at jonathan.ketterer@avca.org. Thanks for reading! 

Editor's Note: The inaugural AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championships will be held in Gulf Shores, Alabama, April 27-29, 2012.   Please click HERE to see the full AVCA release.