(Photo: ASU Athletics)
No. 1: Stanford (last week: No. 1), 24-0 (14-0)
The Cardinal remain unblemished on the season after spurning a surprising comeback effort from No. 19 Arizona State in five sets and then fending off a strong game from No. 14 Arizona in another five-set match. The catalyst behind the resistant play from the Cardinal last week was senior libero Kyle Gilbert. She posted what was a career-high 31 digs against ASU before topping that number with a school-record 40 digs against Arizona. Her history-making defense earned her Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors, and she will look to maintain that high level of play this weekend as Stanford travels to play No. 18 UCLA and No. 21 USC.
No. 2: Washington (last week: No. 2), 25-0 (14-0)
Washington recorded their fifth and sixth straight sweeps last weekend as they hosted No. 10 Oregon and unranked Oregon State. Efficient hitting was the highlight for Washington. Against the Ducks, senior opposite Kaleigh Nelson recorded 11 kills on 16 swings, posting a .625 hitting percentage. That performance was nearly matched by senior outside hitter Krista Vansant against Oregon State as Vansant tallied 16 kills at a .353 clip to go along with 14 digs. The Huskies have been on a dominant tear of late, and they will take their hot streak on the road with them as they play No. 22 Colorado and Utah this weekend.
No. 10: Oregon (last week: 11), 18-6 (8-6)
After falling to No. 2 Washington in straight sets, the Ducks bounced back to take down the Washington State Cougars in four sets. Leading the way for the Ducks was senior middle blocker Serena Warner, who recorded 11 kills on 12 attempts for an absurd .917 hitting percentage. Her effort was a program record, surpassing Tia Stewart’s .900 clip against Gonzaga in 1997. Oregon will look to maintain their top-10 position this weekend in Arizona as they square off against the No. 14 Wildcats and No. 19 Arizona State.
No. 14: Arizona (last week: 16), 19-7 (8-6)
Last week Arizona played some of their best volleyball of the season, pushing No. 1 Stanford to five sets before sweeping California. Against the Cardinal, Madi Kingdon racked up 25 kills to go along with 30 kills, and as a team, the Wildcats totaled 106 digs, seventh-most in program history. They would play just as well at Cal as Kingdon posted 19 kills and 17 digs in only three sets. She was aided by fellow senior outside hitter Taylor Arizobal’s 17 kills at a .600 clip. Head coach Dave Rubio will likely look for his outside hitter to produce at the same level as they host No. 10 Oregon and Oregon State this weekend in Tucson.
No. 18: UCLA (last week: 15), 17-8 (8-6)
The Bruins were victims to the strongest Utah performances of the conference season as they were defeated by the Utes in straight sets. However, in their first match of the weekend, UCLA played well to sweep No. 22 Colorado and enact revenge on a team that beat them in four sets earlier in conference play. Against the Buffaloes, Karsta Lowe continued her dominant run as she put down 18 kills to lead all players. Nonetheless, the Utah match was a disappointment, but the Utes did push UCLA to five sets in their first meeting. The Bruins will look to get back on track at home against top-ranked Stanford and Cal this weekend.
No. 19: Arizona State (last week: 20), 17-9 (7-7)
The unpredictable Sun Devils continued their roller-coaster trend as they stormed back from two sets down against No. 1 Stanford before eventually falling in five sets. ASU played a rough game on the offensive end, posting a .004 hitting percentage in the first two sets. However, efforts from junior outside hitter Macey Gardner and sophomore opposite hitter BreElle Bailey sparked the comeback attempt that actually saw a 7-4 Sun Devil lead in the fifth set before Stanford climbed back to close out the match on top. ASU recovered to defeat California in four sets, and freshman Madison McDaniel once again stepped in for a struggling Sun Devil to lift her team. This time, that role was in place of sophomore outside hitter Kizzy Willey, and McDaniel posted seven kills while playing each of the four sets against Cal. Still searching for a weekend sweep, ASU hosts No. 10 Oregon and Oregon State in Tempe this weekend.
No. 21: Southern California (last week: 19), 14-10 (7-7)
The Women of Troy were upset by a Utah team that was playing its best volleyball of Pac-12 play, racking up 52 kills compared with just seven attacking errors. However, USC bounced back to fight off No. 22 Colorado in a highly-competitive straight-sets win. Junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio posted 20 kills for the fifth time this season, and junior middle blocker Alicia Ogoms racked up 10 kills on only 13 swings. The ever-talented USC hosts No. 1 Stanford and California in the Galen Center this weekend as they continue to try to fulfill the high expectations that preceded this season.
No. 22: Colorado (last week: 21), 15-11 (7-7)
After finally breaking the top 25, the Buffaloes were swept by both No. 18 UCLA and No. 21 USC at home. Against the Bruins, Colorado struggled to get loose on the offensive end and completed the match hitting .290 while UCLA hit .360. However, senior outside hitter Taylor Simpson spearheaded the Colorado attack against USC, racking up 16 kills, but it was not enough as the Women of Troy’s junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio’s 20 kill effort overpowered Colorado. In the second weekend of a four-match homestand, Colorado will look to get back on track as they host No. 2 Washington and Washington State in Boulder.
California: 8-16 (0-14)
Oregon State: 16-9 (6-8)
Utah: 14-11 (4-10)
Washington State: 10-16 (1-13)