Here’s what we know about the Pac-12: As good as a conference as it is, USC, Stanford and Washington are head and shoulders above the rest. The bottom eight teams before Oregon State are all closely matched. See how they fare in the Pac-12 power rankings.
1. USC (16-1, 6-0 Pac-12): The No. 1 Trojans are a step above the rest in the Pac-12. USC doesn’t appear to have a chink in its armor as the Trojans are the only undefeated team in the conference. Their résumé includes sweeps over Stanford and Oregon. Sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio leads the nation in aces per set and USC also has the conference’s leading libero in senior Natalie Hugglund. Expect the Trojans to remain undefeated in conference this weekend when they face ASU and UA.
2. Stanford (12-3, 5-1 Pac-12): The No. 2 spot was virtually a toss-up between No. 7 Stanford and Washington. And while Stanford does have three losses, all three were against top-10 teams. Behind storied coach John Dunning and the versatility of senior middle blocker Carly Wopat, the Cardinal will continue to sweep opponents in efforts to chase down USC.
3. Washington (13-1, 5-1 Pac-12): Behind four of the best servers in the conference and one of the best outside hitters in the country, junior Krista Vansant, the No. 6 Huskies have remained in the national spotlight. But Washington has yet to defeat a top-10 team, because they haven’t faced USC or Stanford. If they hadn’t lost last weekend to unranked Colorado, the Huskies would still be in the mix for the top spot.
4. ASU (13-5, 2-4 Pac-12): Right behind the big three sits No. 22 ASU, which has a ranking because of its successful nonconference slate that included a victory over the reigning national champion Texas. But three straight Pac-12 losses have dropped the Sun Devils to No. 22 in the nation, and the slide likely won’t stop when ASU plays USC on Friday.
5. Oregon (10-6, 3-3 Pac-12): ASU has what No. 21 Oregon doesn’t: a marquee victory. The Ducks’ biggest wins have come against ASU and UCLA, far from national powerhouses, which is why they come in behind ASU.
6. California (10-5, 3-3 Pac-12): The Golden Bears have done exactly what they were expected to do in conference play: They have lost to top teams like Stanford and USC and beaten teams like UA and Colorado, and they sit at the middle of the Pac-12 rankings.
7. Colorado (11-5, 3-3 Pac-12): The Buffaloes have used their home court advantage to knock off both Washington and UCLA in Boulder. But you can’t succeed in the Pac-12 if you can’t win on the road. Don’t expect things to improve for Colorado as it hits the road again to play the Oregon schools starting on Friday.
8. UA (13-5, 3-3 Pac-12): Having played only three nonconference games on the road, it’s hard to tell whether the Wildcats can play well away from Tucson. In the Pac-12, Arizona has just one road win thus far. Junior outside hitter Madi Kingdon, who leads the conference in points, is the Wildcats’ only offensive option, which stifles their ability to score.
9. Utah (14-4, 3-3 Pac-12): The Utes have fared well in Pac-12 play, having lost to the three top-tier teams and beaten their three other opponents. And the schedule does get a bit easier the next few weeks as Utah travels to the Oregon schools and then hosts the Arizona schools.
10. Washington State (15-4, 2-4 Pac-12): The Cougars, who went undefeated in their nonconference schedule, have struggled in conference. Their only Pac-12 wins were at the winless-in-conference Beavers and at home against ASU.
11. UCLA (10-6, 1-5 Pac-12): Ranked No. 12 in the AVCA preseason poll, the Bruins have struggled in conference play. Their only Pac-12 win was over the beleaguered Oregon State Beavers. Some might expect UCLA to compete at home, but sweeps by Stanford and California in Los Angeles have shown otherwise.
12. Oregon State (9-8, 0-6 Pac-12): Oregon State rounds out the bottom of the Pac-12, having yet to win a conference match. The Beavers are last in blocks, kills, assists and hitting percentage, and show little signs of improvement to come.
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