This week, the phrase “there’s a new No. 1” takes on even more significance. That story and more in our weekly NCAA roundup, covering the top headlines from the week that was in women’s college volleyball.
Baylor is No. 1.
With Stanford losing its third match of the season to Washington last week, there were no more excuses: undefeated Baylor rose to the No. 1 spot in the Sept. 30 AVCA Top 25 Poll for the first time in program history.
The Bears are now the only undefeated team left in Division I, having dropped just two sets along the way (one to Wisconsin and one to Houston). On Saturday, they kicked off Big 12 play with a sweep of Kansas and improved to 2-0 in conference with a sweep of Oklahoma Wednesday night.
Star outside hitter Yossiana Pressley ranks first in the country with 5.86 kills per set.
A match to bookmark on your calendar: Baylor versus Texas in Austin on Oct. 23. Baylor will be looking to prove that it can live up to its billing as the top team in the country, and Texas, of course, will want to reclaim the headlines in the conference where it has reigned supreme in recent history.
As mentioned above, Stanford lost to Washington in both teams’ second conference match of the season. To open the Pac-12 season, the Cardinal handed Cal its first loss of the year. Washington, on the other hand, headed into Sunday’s match versus Stanford having lost its opener to Washington State in four.
In all, only two Pac-12 teams went 2-0 in the first conference weekend: Oregon State and UCLA. The Beavers topped in-state rival Oregon in five sets on Thursday and then beat Colorado in four on Friday. USC and Arizona State fell at the hands of UCLA, resulting in USC dropping out of the top 25.
WSU, which upset Washington, lost its second match of the weekend in five to Cal, while Oregon got some redemption with a five-set victory over then-No. 18 Utah.
Washington’s Kara Bajema earned her third straight conference Offensive Player of the Week honor after recording 19 kills versus WSU and 17 hitting .302 with 10 digs and five blocks in the upset of Stanford.
Oregon State libero Grace Massey got the defensive honor thanks to her career-high 32 digs versus Oregon, followed by 11 digs in the Colorado match.
Setter Kylie Robinson took home the top freshman award for Oregon. The redshirt frosh quarterbacked the Ducks through its pair of five-set matches, collecting 108 assists along the way. She currently ranks second in the conference with 11.02 assists per set.
Bayley McMenimen Steps Up For Minnesota, Earn Setter OTW Award
UCLA transfer Kylie Miller filled the starting setter role for Minnesota in each of its first nine matches of the 2019 season. But on Saturday, the senior had to sit out due to an undisclosed injury and sophomore Bayley McMenimen made her first collegiate start.
With the 5-9 Floridian at the controls, Minnesota swept then-No. 15 Purdue. McMenimen finished the match with 45 assists and 12 digs for the first double-double of her college career, and on Monday, the Big Ten honored her with the Setter of the Week award.
Her fellow Gophers opposite Stephanie Samedy and libero CC McGraw were also highlighted in the Big Ten’s weekly awards, being named Player of the Week and Defensive Player of the Week, respectively.
Wisconsin Edges Penn State
In a match that could have big implications in the Big Ten down the stretch, Wisconsin got past Penn State in four sets Wednesday night (23-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-13). Junior outside hitter Grace Loberg topped the score sheet with 21 kills, leading her team to a 3-0 record in Big Ten play.
The Badgers also excelled on defense, out-blocking Penn State 10 to eight and out-digging their opponents 63 to 47. Penn State hit .175 for the match but just .043 in the third and fourth sets.
"That's obviously a good win, but more than that it's just how we played is better than even the result,” Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “We bounced back after that first set. We fell behind a bit in the second set and I thought our serving really kicked into another gear. Those last two sets of holding them to .050 or so—those are pretty low numbers against a team that has as much offensive talent as Penn State does.”
Wisconsin continues a tough week of competition by traveling to Lincoln to face No. 2 Nebraska on Saturday.
Kentucky vs. Florida on Sunday
Only three teams made it through the first week of SEC play undefeated, and two of those teams will face off against each other on Sunday.
Kentucky toppled Mississippi State and Missouri last week, but leading attacker Leah Edmond left the court in the first set of the MSU match with a lower leg injury. Outside hitter Alli Stumler stepped up in her absence, recording a match- and career-high 20 kills, hitting .327. Against Mizzou, Edmond returned to the lineup, but Stumler still led the way, this time with 16 kills, hitting .368.
Stumler, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Year, swept almost every weekly award on Monday, taking home SEC Player of the Week and Offensive Player of the Week, in addition to earning AVCA/Sports Imports National Player of the Week.
Florida started its conference season with victories over Auburn (3-0) and Georgia (3-1). The Gators hit a fiery .427 against Auburn and .325 versus Georgia. In both contests, Thayer Hall led the offense with 14 and 15 kills, respectively.
Sunday’s match will take place at 1 PM ET.
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Friday, Oct. 4
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