(Photo: ASU Athletics)
No. 1: Stanford (last week: No. 1), 28-0 (18-0)
The Cardinal made history over the weekend, extending their winning streak to 28 games to start a season with sweeps over No. 18 Colorado and No. 23 Utah. The juggernaut that is the Stanford middle attack was ever-present in both matches as senior Inky Ajanaku and redshirt freshman Merete Lutz combined for 29 kills and 15 blocks. Just two teams stand in front of Stanford and a perfect regular season, and they will look to make that happen when they square off against No. 5 Washington in Seattle on Wednesday before they close out the season on the road against California.
No. 5: Washington (last week: No. 2), 27-2 (16-2)
After suffering their first losses of the season last weekend, Washington returned to their dominant form, sweeping both No. 22 Arizona State and No. 14 Arizona in Seattle. Without the services of freshman outside hitter Crissy Jones due to an ankle sprain suffered in practice, freshman outside hitter Courtney Schwan stepped in to provide nine kills without an error against Arizona. Against the Sun Devils, junior middle blocker Melanie Wade racked up 10 kills on 11 swings for a .909 hitting percentage, the highest by a Husky with at least 10 kills since 1997. Junior libero Cassie Strickland also had an outstanding weekend, as she did not commit a service reception error on her 34 attempts of the weekend, thus earning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. Washington finally gets its chance at No. 1 Stanford on Wednesday as they host the undefeated Cardinal before rounding out Pac-12 play against Washington State.
No. 13: Oregon (last week: 14), 21-7 (11-7)
The Ducks ended their home schedule on a high-note with victories over No. 17 UCLA and USC last weekend. Against the Bruins, Oregon had to overcome deficits in each of the three sets of their sweep, with the final set ending 33-31 in their favor. As a team, the Ducks served 10 aces, the most since 2012. Against the Women of Troy, junior outside hitter Martenne Bettendorf tallied a career-high 22 kills to lead the offense, and Liz Brenner put up 17 digs on their senior night. Oregon concludes their regular season on the road as they travel to play No. 23 Utah on Tuesday and Oregon State on Friday.
No. 14: Arizona (last week: 13), 22-8 (11-7)
The Wildcats fell to No. 5 Washington in straight sets after sophomore setter and reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week Penina Snuka went down in the first set to a knee injury. However, Snuka returned in the second set in their next match, dishing out 34 assists to help Arizona take down Washington State in five sets. Per usual, senior outside hitter Madi Kingdon led the Wildcats on offense with 22 kills. She also commanded the back row, racking up 34 digs, the fourth-most in Arizona history. The Wildcats stay in Tucson for their match against USC on Wednesday before heading up to Tempe to square off against No. 22 Arizona State.
No. 17: UCLA (last week: 18), 19-10 (10-8)
The Bruins bounced back after being swept by No. 13 Oregon to down Oregon State in four sets. As always, senior outside hitter Karsta Lowe led the UCLA offense, starting the weekend with 22 kills against the Ducks and following that with 20 kills, 10 digs, three aces and three blocks to lead her team against Oregon State. Lowe remains the nation’s leader in kills per set (5.96), and her efforts last weekend garnered Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors for the fifth time this season. Lowe and the Bruins close the season out against No. 22 Arizona State and USC.
No. 18: Colorado (last week: 19), 18-12 (10-8)
After getting dropped by No. 1 Stanford in straight sets, the Buffaloes cruised past California in a sweep of their own for their 10th conference win, the most since they went 12-8 in the Big 12 in 2006. Senior outside hitter Taylor Simpson’s 17 kills and 10 digs. She was aided by junior outside hitter Alexis Austin’s 13-kill effort. Colorado hosts Oregon State in Boulder, Colorado, before they travel to play Utah on the road in their regular season finale.
No. 22: Arizona State (last week: 22), 18-12 (8-10)
Arizona State played in their eight five set match in their last 10 matches against Washington State, eventually pulling off the victory in Pullman behind junior outside hitter Macey Gardner’s 29 kills at a .322 clip to go along with 11 digs. Junior setter Bianca Arellano also dished out 50 assists to run the Sun Devil offense. However, their next match saw no signs of going the full distance as No. 5 Washington swept the Sun Devils in impressive fashion, holding ASU to a .090 hitting percentage in the match. Gardner’s 11 kills did move her into sole possession of fourth place on ASU’s all-time kills list. She will look to lead her team as they host No. 17 UCLA and No. 14 Arizona this to round out their season.
No. 23: Utah (last week: 23), 17-12 (7-11)
The Utes were swept by No. 1 Stanford, but they rebounded to defeat California in four sets with a balanced offensive effort. Utah saw four players with double-digit kills, led by senior opposite Shelby Dalton’s 15 kills. The win snapped Utah’s nine-match losing streak on the road, and their late emergence into the top-25 proves to become more and more legitimate. With the tournament right around the corner, Utah is playing themselves into a higher seed with each match. They will look to make final statements as the host No. 13 Oregon and No. 18 Colorado in Salt Lake City, Utah, this week.
California: 9-19 (1-17)
Oregon State: 18-11 (8-10)
Southern California: 14-14 (7-11)
Washington State: 10-20 (1-17)
You can reach Zac Pacleb on Twitter @ZacPacleb or via email at email@example.com.