1-3 in conference play and the lone win comes to an Oregon State Beavers squad that hasn’t won a single Pac-12 game yet this season. They’ve consistently been at the bottom of the conference for the past few years with Cal as well. Oh boy.
So what to make of the northern California schools coming to Lake Washington this weekend?
Trouble. Pain. And even...hope. Let’s break it down.
Playing with Emani Bush on the bench all season due to a serious injury, the Huskies started the season playing weaker, and fresher talent. Their starting squad consists of more transfers from Division II schools, and Freshman or red-shirt Sophomores than we are accustomed to. This only means that first time head coach, Leslie Gabriel would suffer some growing pains.
But is it as bad as it sounds?
Comparing to last year Washington is running 1.98 aces per set as opposed 1.68 it set in 2022 and 1.76 in 2021. Even if the average is expected to fall with the wearing of the season and the continuance of conference play, this isn’t pause for concern since the team ranks 18 in the country currently. In 2022 the team was first in the Pac-12 and first in the conference in 2021.
Assists per set tell a different story as the Huskies rank 193 in the country with 11.17 per set and are behind more than half of the conference including the third ranked Stanford (in this category). This is a troublesome trend when compared to the two previous years when the team ranked fourth in the conference in 2022 and ranked third in the conference in 2021.
With blocks per set at 2.12, the Huskies sit at 140 in the nation, but the issue is consistent when compared to our nemesis Stanford. Stanford is tenth in the nation with blocks per set at 2.82 and is up from its mark of 2.76 last year. With the bigger team and more experienced talent this opponent is ranked third in the nation in the AVCA rankings.
Stanford is scary and the Friday night showdown likely won’t go our way. Thankfully, it is the team’s first conference match in Seattle and this will provide a bit of a boost. Hope rests on the horizon when the calendar shows us a matchup with Cal.
Why you may ask?
Cal is 1-3 on the season in Pac-12 play. The previous three seasons Cal has one singular conference win and this came in what has been italicized as the COVID Year. So Cal isn’t any good when it comes to the conference?
As bright as things may seem for Washington, Cal ranks 79 in blocks per set with over 2.3. Cal is positioned at 42 with 1.82 aces per set and are playing more complete than the Huskies with 12.83 assists per set that puts them at number 23.
The analysis says that Washington can’t treat this opponent lightly, but the heart says that it will be a Sunday afternoon in Seattle for this team. This one is predicted as a win because although Washington and Cal are tied for conference record, Cal will be trapped in a hostile environment.
Game times this weekend are Stanford - Friday, October 6 at 8PM PST and California - Sunday, October 8 at 12PM PST.