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Pac-12 Conference

The Conference
of Champions

The best moments from opening weekend of Pac-12 women's volleyball

Aug 30, 2023
Courtesy of Oregon Athletics

Pac-12 women's volleyball is back and firing out the gate. After the first weekend of play, Stanford and Oregon have already emerged as top six teams in the AVCA poll. A handful of programs ushered in new eras in 2023. What else caught our eye from opening week? 

The Ducks make a statement

Oregon was on the cusp of making the Final Four last season. Meanwhile the Ducks' season-opening opponent, San Diego, did make it there. Oregon had a prime opportunity to show its worth for the 2023 campaign, and the Ducks answered the call. Led by reigning AVCA National Freshman of the Year and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Mimi Colyer, Oregon swept the Toreros in Hawaii. 

Colyer led the conference with 48 kills as the Ducks finished the weekend a perfect 3-0 with three sweeps. Despite the graduation of All-American Brooke Nuneviller, Oregon looks just as well-rounded if not more. All-American setter Hannah Pukis continues her chemistry with Colyer and the Oregon attack, which has saw junior Morgan Lewis step into a more prominent role. Karson Bacon, who won the first Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week of the season, and Baylor transfer Kara McGhee already look like a dynamic duo on defense. 

The match with San Diego was the first of a tough non-conference slate Oregon has elected to play. The Ducks still have ranked matches with Minnesota, Ohio State and Marquette still on the docket and all on the road. Although, to reach their national title aspirations and to be the best, you've got to beat the best.  

Young Cal squad opens with a sweep

The Golden Bears only won seven games last season. Their head coach resigned in late July. Nevertheless, this Cal team played lights out to start the season. Interim head coach and former Washington All-American Crissy Jones Schoonderwoerd guided the Golden Bears to three victories and an Army Invitational win. 

Maggie Li was a huge bright spot in Cal's opening weekend. The Beijing native earned the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award after leading the with 34 kills. She also had a double-double in her first collegiate match and six service aces in the those three games. Sophomore Mikayla Hayden continues to be the centerpiece of the defense, leading the team with 12 blocks and average 1.2 per set, a better pace than she had in 2022. 

Cal will look to continue the momentum and stay in the win column at home this week against Portland State, Southern Utah and Saint Mary's.

New coaches tally first wins

The Pac-12 welcomed five new head coaches — six if you count Jones Schoonderwoerd — this offseason. Each earned their first wins with their respective programs. 

Longtime Arizona assistant Charita Stubbs got her first victory as the Wildcats took down Pacific. JJ Van Niel has Arizona State looking good after winning the FGCU Invitational by sweeping FGCU, St. John's and Ole Miss in Florida. Oregon State swept North Dakota to secure Lindsey Behonick's first win leading the Beavers. Leslie Gabriel and the new-look Washington Huskies won a pair in Louisiana. After losing a tough one at LSU on Friday, UCLA battled back to split the series with the Tigers and notch the first victory for Alfee Reft.