All teams begin league play against in-state foes; ASU & Utah win
After a nonconference schedule in which seven teams lost only once or less, Pac-12 teams are ready to hang losses on their conference rivals.
Utah def. Colorado 3-2 (25-19, 21-25, 25-18, 24-26, 15-12).
In Salt Lake, the Buffs (8-2, 0-1) hung tough against the Utes (12-1, 1-0). Colorado trailed just 10-12 in the fifth set when Utah’s Bailey Batemen came up with her seventh block, followed by a double block from Erin Redd-Brandon and Shelby Dalton. In all, there were 22 team blocks in this match, 14 by Utah. Colorado’s Taylor Simpson recorded 22 kills, but hit just .179. The Utes kept it close with 13 service errors.
(16) Arizona State def. Arizona 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 26-24).
In Tempe, the visiting Sun Devils (12-1, 1-0) got a big win against the Wildcats (10-3, 0-1). Defense ruled the night, as ASU’s anemic .213 hitting percentage looked great next to Arizona’s .103. ASU recorded 50 digs—led by 15 from setter Bianca Arellano, helping frustrate UA’s star hitters Madi Kingdon (14 kills, 13 errors, .022) and Jane Croson (7 kills, 4 errors, .107). As usual, Macey Gardner led the way for the Sun Devils, but her 13 kills came with 10 errors (.073). The Wildcats drew a nice crowd of 2,293.
|-photo by Shutter Geeks Photography|
(2) Washington @ Washington State | 7:30PM | Pac-12 Network
Both the Huskies (8-0) and Cougars (13-0) are undefeated, though the combined winning percentage of each teams’ nonconference opponents is an identical .398. Washington’s success starts with serving (most aces/set of any D1 team in the nation) and passing (much improved this season), allowing setters Jenni Nogueras and Katy Beals to keep opponents guessing. WSU’s Kyra Holt (4.14 kills/set) is one of the nation’s leading hitters; the Cougars’ roster includes two Jackson High grads, Emmy Allen and Haley MacDonald, and Beamer High’s Bekah Young. PREDICTION: Washington in 4.
(11) UCLA @ (4) USC | 7:00PM | ESPNU
The Bruins (9-1) lost only to #6 Hawai’i; the Trojans (10-1) were beaten by #8 San Diego, both on the road. UCLA is hitting .288, holding opponents to .200. Karsta Lowe is the Bruins’ big hitter, but Kelly Reeves provides the spark, leadership and passing. USC hits about the same—.286—but shuts down opponents (just .159). The heart of the Trojans offense is a sophomore, Sam Bricio, and two freshmen, Elise Ruddins and Ebony Nwanebu. PREDICTION: USC in 4.
(21) Oregon @ Oregon State | 7:30PM | Pac-12 Network
Both the Ducks (7-3) and Beavers (9-2) lost on the road to #10 Michigan and #15 Michigan State. Oregon lost three players from last season’s national runner-up team, and are under pressure to show that star setter Lauren Plum and big hitter Liz Brenner can pick up the slack. Lila Toner and Laura Schaudt lead Oregon State’s offense, but the heart of the team is libero Becky Defoe, averaging 5.05 digs per set, tops in the conference. Corvallis crowd could help Beavs. PREDICTION: Oregon State in 5.
(7) Stanford @ California | 7:30PM | Pac-12 Network
Cardinal (7-2) lost only to #3 Florida and #5 Texas, and have coasted under some people’s radar as a result. Don’t be fooled: this is an elite team, ready to show its stuff. Bears (7-2) have lost last two in row, not a great way to come off the nonconference schedule. This could be a blowout, even though the match is in Berkeley. PREDICTION: Stanford in 3.
- Mechelle Voepel, who covers volleyball for ESPN, ranks Washington #6 in this week’s power rankings, behind USC, but ahead of Stanford, UCLA and ASU.
Photos courtesy Shutter Geeks Photography