Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pac-12 | #1, #2 & #3 all lose … but #5 Huskies not on TV

#5 Washington @ Arizona | Saturday, September 22 | 5pm
no TV, no radio

Under the glare of television cameras, the nation’s top three teams all lost this weekend:
  • #1 UCLA lost to #2 USC
  • #2 USC lost to #7 Oregon
  • #3 Nebraska lost to #4 Penn St

 And so … on the one hand, it might not be such bad news for #5 Washington that its 5pm (Pacific) match against Arizona will not be televised.

Washington's Lianna Sybeldon
-courtesy Shutter Geeks Photography
On the other hand, it really is not good news, because great volleyball teams should not be overlooked by the networks. If Washington can beat Arizona, the Huskies could be ranked anywhere from #2 to #4 … and there’s no way a team ranked that high—one of only three unbeaten teams in Division I!—should be left off the schedule.

With the launch of the Pac-12 Networks (P12Ns), most conference matches are now available (even as most nonconference matches were disappointingly not.) And, during this first week, the P12Ns impressively upgraded their coverage with the addition of three volleyball broadcast veterans (and former Olympians):
  • Paul Sunderland’s play-by-play of the marquee USC/Oregon match was smooth and professional.
  • Chris Marlowe handled Stanford’s struggle to beat Utah in Salt Lake City. Marlowe—who has called thousands of matches—knows the sport, even if he doesn’t always avoid clichés.
  • Another experienced broadcaster, Holly McPeak, was part of the UCLA/Oregon State telecast. She is often a lightning rod for volleyball fans; they either love or decidedly don’t love her analysis of indoor volleyball.

 Why is Washington @ Arizona not on the schedule? As always, Saturday is football day. In the SEC and the Big-12, conference matches are almost never scheduled on Saturdays, to avoid the pigskin conflict. The Pac-12 has already moved a huge chunk of its volleyball schedule away from Saturday. Expect that trend to continue.

  • AND THEN THERE WERE THREE. #5 Washington and #7 Oregon join #14 BYU as the only remaining unbeaten teams in Division 1 (out of 327 teams) USC’s crushing home court loss to Oregon was the Trojans’ first setback of the season. Formerly unbeaten Michigan State lost to Purdue; South Carolina lost to Auburn and Northwestern fell to Wisconsin.
  • HOME COURT HAS BEEN AN ADVANTAGE EARLY ON IN THE PAC-12. When conference rivals played Tuesday and Wednesday, the home team won all six matches. Friday night, the tally was 2-2, with Oregon winning at USC’s Galen Center and Stanford looking vulnerable in a 3-1 nailbiter at Utah’s Huntsman Center. Arizona State won at home against Washington State, and UCLA easily handled Oregon State at the John Wooden Center.
  • VOLLEYBALL TRIES DEMOCRACY. Dr. Ary Graça, President of the Brazil Volleyball Association is the new President of the FIVB, volleyball’s ruling national body. At the international conference held in Anaheim, Graça beat out four other contenders, including USA Volleyball head Doug Beal, who finished second. According to FIVB, this was the organization’s “first demographic election.” Nice to know the sport has moved out of the smoke-filled rooms.

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