15 Points: Stanford, Colorado, New Kids on the Block, More

Fifteen Points

By Lionsfan

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 1. Round 18: Penn State vs. Stanford

(8:00 p.m. ET)
Rec Hall
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THE rivalry continues this Saturday, and Penn State will need the home court advantage if it wants to topple Stanford, which looked superb in sweeps of Texas A&M and Minnesota last weekend.  A Cardinal win would knot the series at 9 wins each. Here’s a look at the legendary history between Penn State and Stanford:

  • Dec. 10, 1992 (Champaign, Ill.; NCAA Regional Semis): #2 Stanford defeats #9 Penn State 15-13, 15-6, 15-13
  • Aug. 23, 1997 (Palo Alto): #2 Penn State defeats #1 Stanford 15-8, 15-13, 15-9
  • Sept. 6, 1997 (Storrs, Conn.): #1 Penn State defeats #3 Stanford 14-16, 15-6, 15-12, 15-7
  • Dec. 20, 1997 (Spokane, Wash.; NCAA Championship): #3 Stanford defeats #2 Penn State 15-10, 15-6, 2-15, 15-17, 15-9
  • Dec. 18, 1999 (Honolulu, NCAA Championship): #1 Penn State defeats #2 Stanford 15-2, 15-10, 15-7
  • Sept. 4, 2001 (State College): #9 Stanford defeats #4 Penn State 28-30, 30-26, 30-16, 30-23
  • Sept. 10, 2004 (Palo Alto): #7 Penn State defeats #12 Stanford 31-29, 23-30, 30-25, 26-30, 15-12
  • Aug. 26, 2005 (Omaha): #3 Stanford defeats #5 Penn State 30-24, 30-24, 28-30, 23-30, 15-10
  • Sept. 15, 2007 (New Haven, Conn.): #2 Stanford defeats #3 Penn State 30-23, 23-30, 27-30, 30-28, 15-9
  • Dec. 15, 2007 (Sacramento; NCAA Championship): #1 Penn State defeats #4 Stanford 30-25, 30-26, 23-30, 19-30, 15-8
  • Dec. 20, 2008 (Omaha; NCAA Championship): #1 Penn State defeats #2 Stanford 25-20, 26-24, 25-23
  • Sept. 11, 2010 (Gainesville, Fla.): #2 Stanford defeats #1 Penn State 28-26, 25-12, 25-18
  • Sept. 9, 2011 (Palo Alto): #3 Stanford defeats #2 Penn State 23-25, 25-19, 27-25, 25-18
  • Aug. 31, 2012 (State College): #4 Penn State defeats #9 Stanford 25-13, 25-27, 25-23, 23-25, 15-13
  • Dec. 14, 2013 (Lexington, Ky.; NCAA Regional Final): #2 Penn State defeats #3 Stanford 22-25, 25-22, 28-26, 18-25, 15-11
  • Sept. 5, 2014 (Palo Alto): #2 Stanford defeats #1 Penn State 18-25, 25-23, 25-22, 16-25, 15-10
  • Dec. 19, 2014 (Oklahoma City; NCAA Final Four): #4 Penn State defeats #1 Stanford 25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21
  • Sept. 5, 2015 (State College): #1 Penn State vs. #2 Stanford


Calculator_kodabar2. Penn State and Stanford By the Numbers

  • 198 NCAA tournament match wins between the two programs*
  • 148 times one of these programs has been ranked #1**
  • 13 national titles between the two programs
  • 13 times the teams have both been ranked in the Top 4 when meeting (including this year)
  • 11 times the teams have met on neutral ground 6 times the teams have met as No. 1 and No. 2 (including this year)
  • 4 meetings in Palo Alto
  • 3 meetings in State College (including this year)
  • 2 streaks broken in the series***
  • 1 time in their entire series history that a team was not in the Top 10 when they played each other (2004, #12 Stanford)

Notes: *Penn State has 90 tournament game wins, while Stanford has 108…including a consolation match win over Pacific in 1983 for 3rd place. **Penn State has been ranked #1 a total of 81 times in the poll, Stanford 67 times. Only Nebraska (85 times) has more. ***In the season-opening match of 1997, Penn State broke Stanford’s 50-match home win streak at Maples; in their 2010 meeting, Stanford broke Penn State’s 109-match win streak (a streak that started the match after Penn State’s regular-season loss to Stanford in 2007).

3. Buff Battles

(7:30 p.m. ET)
Rec Hall


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#21 AVCA

Don’t think Penn State fans are overlooking Colorado. Before the Lions meet Stanford, they must face the #21 team in the land, who went 2-1 at their own tournament. After losing in four to San Diego (now ranked #23 in the AVCA poll — #22 in lionsfan’s Top 25), Colorado beat Florida State in five (dropping the Seminoles from #9 to #14) and topped Oklahoma (the poor Sooners lost all three matches, two of them in five sets).

4. Not Precedent Setting

Micha Hancock Photo by Mark Selders
Micha Hancock
Photo by Mark Selders

This isn’t the first time Penn State Head Coach Russ Rose has been breaking in a new setter on a defending national champion team and playing host to a big weekend of volleyball.  In fact, Coach Rose only has to look back to 2011 for a very similar scenario.  In 2011, Micah Hancock was a freshman setter, as #1 ranked Penn State looked forward to a Saturday night showdown with the #2 team in the land from the Pac-12 (that year it was Southern Cal).  But the Nittany Lions were tripped up on Friday night by another Pac school (Oregon). It should serve as the perfect warning to Penn State not to look ahead (neither can the Cardinal: while Penn State faces off against Colorado on Friday night, Stanford will be taking on #6 Illinois).

5. Penn State and Colorado By the NumbersCalculator_kodabar

Penn State is 5-1 against Colorado all time, the only loss a five-setter in the 1989 series opener. They last met in 2003 (a four-set win), but the most memorable contest came in 1993: Under the guidance of setter Salima Davidson, the #7 Lions won a hard fought five-set battle (9-15, 16-14, 16-18, 15-8, 15-7) against #9 Colorado (who was seeded higher than Penn State) en route to its first ever appearance in the Final Four. That year, Colorado made its first ever Sweet 16 appearance. (For more on that 1993 Buffalo squad, and why former setter Nicole Vranesh can’t wear red, check out this article from the Colorado SID.)

Incheon_Airport_Train_Terminal,_Korea6. Terminal Swings

In its first three matches — 3-0 over Buffalo (76 attacks), 3-0 over Stony Brook (83 attacks) , and 3-0 over Villanova (121 attacks) — the 2015 PSU squad took a total of 280 swings –44 more swings than the 236 swings the 2014 squad took in their first three matches (all sweeps) — vs. TCU (91 attacks), vs. Iona (79 attacks), and vs. William & Mary (66 attacks).  One could, of course, say this is because we don’t have Micha Hancock this year serving 10 aces in a row.

But that would be incorrect.  This year’s squad actually has more aces (12, compared to 10 for the 2014 squad) and fewer serving errors (19, compared to 27 for the 2014 squad) — in each case, through 3 matches and 9 sets.  Observation: This year’s Penn State squad is not terminating as quickly, nor as efficiently, as last year’s team.  Which means we are going to see longer rallies and longer matches and a Penn State team that is going to have to learn to win through grit.

7. Side-Out Efficiency

In last year’s NCAA Semi Final match against Stanford, the Nittany Lions sided out at a 69% percent efficiency rating. Through 3 matches this year, Penn State is at exactly at that rate.  Is that good?  Considering we are trying out new Liberos and Setter . . . . its ok.   We would guess Coach Rose would hope the 2015 squad moves the side-out percentage into the mid 80’s against teams of last weekends caliber.

8. New Kids on the Block

The 2015 PSU team is quietly building a brick wall.  The Nittany Lions had 34.5 blocks over the weekend (compared to 22.0 and Heidi Thelen was a big part of that. She moved very well pin to pin and although her attacking connection is a work in progress, as the M2, she is doing exactly what she is supposed to do.

AxialTiltObliquity9. New Rotations in the Backrow

The 2015 PSU backcourt is probably the area of the team that we know the least about.  For many years, the PSU libero’s have been moved like chess pieces to play out of the 1 and 6, but in the matches this weekend, it appeared they were more frequently in the 5 spot. We saw shades of last year with a backrow sub for our opposite with Taylor Krause (13 digs/3 aces) and sometimes Kendall Pierce(8 digs/1 ace) for Ali Frantti.   Of course, it was the first weekend of the season, and there was a true freshman libero (Keeton Holcomb) on the court for most of the sets, so this is an area where the rotations may still be in a state of flux.

10. That Other Rivalry

Former Big 12 nemesis Texas plays host to Nebraska on Friday. The Huskers (tied for #4 in the 8-31-15 AVCA poll, after being tied for #5 in the AVCA preseason poll — are the Huskers fit to be tied?) hold a 30-21 series edge over the Longhorns dating back to 1981 (the two played in the Big 12 from 1996 to 2010), but Texas has won nine of the last 11 meetings—including two wins in 2013 and a five-set thriller in Lincoln last year. The Huskers also face #11 Oregon in Austin (the Ducks will also play #4 Florida).

11. That Other, Other Rivalry

As if you didn’t already have enough amazing volleyball to watch this weekend, Texas also plays host to the other team tied for #4 in the polls: Florida. The Gators hold a 13-8 edge in the series, the two teams each winning on the other’s home court last year. Florida was swept twice by the Longhorns in 2012, but got the best of Texas in 2010 and 2011, winning 3-2 during the Nike Big Four Classic.

12. Trojan Leap

After defeating then-#7 North Carolina and sweeping then-#11 BYU at the Women of Troy Baden Invitational, Southern Cal leaped all the way from #22 to #8 in the polls (the Tar Heels, meanwhile, dropped to #18). Senior OH Samantha Bricio was named the Pac-12 Volleyball Offensive Player of the Week. Over three matches, she hit .320 and picked up 58 kills. The Trojans hit the road this weekend to face three tough opponents: Creighton, host Northern Iowa and Kentucky—who won 3-2 over Michigan State before getting upset by Ohio on Tuesday night in Lexington.  The Wildcats will be looking for redemption from last year, when they got swept at home by the Trojans.

13. Top of the Hill

untitledNotching the biggest upset of the young season, Western Kentucky marched into Madison and came away with a four-set win over Wisconsin, a loss that dropped the Badgers from a tie for #5 down to #13. The Lady Toppers moved into the poll at #20. WKU reached No. 24 last year, when they toppled another Top 10 B1G team by beating #8 Purdue in five—the same result they had against the #16 Boilermakers in West Lafayette in 2013, when they held the program’s highest ranking (#15). The program spent 14-consecutive weeks in the top 25 over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Wisconsin next faces a stiff test against North Carolina, with both teams needing a win to avoid falling further down the poll. The two are joined by Minnesota and dangerous host Louisville for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

14. Power Conference Upsets

Things didn’t look so good for some big teams from big conferences last weekend:

  • Ohio State dropped from 14 to 22 after losing at Wyoming (next up for the Buckeyes: two home contests against Florida State);
  • UCLA dropped from 20 to 25 after getting swept at home by Loyola Marymount (who also swept the Bruins last year, and gained their first victory at UCLA since December 4, 1986, a 3-2 NCAA tournament win);
  • #21 Iowa State dropped out after getting swept at home by Marquette (lionsfan isn’t quite sure why the Golden Eagles aren’t ranked this week);
  • #23 Utah also dropped out after a 3-1 loss to Lipscomb, who got revenge on the Utes after losing to them by the same margin in Nashville last year (and why isn’t Lipscomb ranked in the AVCA Poll?).

15. Lionsfan’s Top 25

Lionsfan's 8-31-15 (Week 1) Top 25 (vote prior to Kentucky loss on 9-1-15)


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