The first of half of Pac-12 play for 12th-ranked Washington has had some of everything: outstanding play in an upset of then-#1 Stanford, solid play throughout a 4-0 homestand, struggles in a loss to injury-depleted USC, and an ugly blowout at the hands of Utah. For a team that looked to be a relatively solid #2 headed into conference play, it’s been at least a mild disappointment.
After all of that, UW is still tied for second, just a game behind first-place Stanford. A year after the Cardinal went 20-0 and clinched the conference outright with two weeks left in the season (en route to the national title), the Pac-12 has been thrown into chaos. Not only are seven teams within two games of first, but had two specific matches gone differently — both of which were five-set matches that certainly could have gone the other way (if Stanford’s comeback at USC instead falls short and Utah’s big comeback at Oregon is completed) — there would currently be a seven-way tie for first.
Standings, with current AVCA rankings
- #5 Stanford (14-4, 8-2 Pac-12)
- #12 Washington (16-4, 7-3)
- #20 California (17-3, 7-3)
- #22 Washington State (18-4, 7-3)
- #25 UCLA (12-7, 7-3)
- #17 Utah (14-7, 6-4)
- (RV) USC (12-8, 6-4)
- Arizona State (13-8, 5-5)
- Oregon State (9-12, 3-7)
- Arizona (12-10, 2-8)
- Oregon (6-13, 2-8)
- Colorado (8-12, 0-10)
- Washington’s status as a team that can be spectacular one night and then mediocre (or worse) the next probably isn’t going to change. The Huskies lead the Pac-12 in blocks/set and aces/set in conference play, both of which are areas that help produce long runs (by winning on your own team’s serve many times in a row), but are just eighth in hitting percentage (last among teams at .500 or better in conference) and seventh in aces allowed, allowing opponents to get right back in it with big runs of their own if they can stop UW’s offense for an extended period.
- Oregon’s early season struggles have evolved into a season of misery that is going to result in no postseason bid, barring a remarkable finish (at least 9-1 would be required, maybe even 10-0). Ducks were the preseason #11 team but took a major hit when RS Willow Johnson went down on a lengthy East Coast road trip in weeks 3 & 4 of non-conference and never really seemed to recover. Graduating setter August Raskie has clearly been hard to overcome, as many hitting percentages are way down, most notably All-American MB Ronika Stone, who is hitting just .241 in Pac-12 play
- UW legend Sanja Tomasevic has Arizona State looking really strong, as the Devils have won three straight matches including an upset at WSU. Even the game right before that stretch was a 3-1 loss at Washington in which the Sun Devils looked nothing like the bottom-feeder they had been the past few seasons. To be able to compete with the big dogs consistently, ASU still desperately needs more presence at the net (10th in blocks/set during conference play, last in blocks/set on the season).
- Colorado still being winless is astonishing, given how ridiculously good they looked when I had a chance to see them in person (alongside UW) as they swept both Iowa and then-#5 (now #19) Illinois back in early September. The biggest issue has been the lack of a reliable second option behind OH Justine Spann, who dominated in non-conference play but has struggled with so many good defenses scouting Colorado with a near-sole focus on stopping her.
Upcoming league schedule (most games Friday night or Sunday afternoon)
- USC/UCLA at Washington/WSU
- Oregon/OSU at Cal/Stanford
- Arizona/ASU at Utah/Colorado
Husky TV Schedule
- Fri, 8 PM, Pac-12 Net/LA: vs (RV) USC
- Sun, 2 PM, Pac-12 WA: vs #25 UCLA