1. No. 3 USC (13-3, 8-1 Pac-12): Arizona State exposed the first real chink in the Trojans’ armor Saturday night, taking USC to four sets. But none of the other teams at the top of the conference had the sort of statement win needed to overtake the Trojans, so they remain No. 1 in these rankings — for now.
2. No. 2 Washington (15-1, 7-1): The Huskies took care of business against Colorado and Utah but didn’t look particularly impressive doing it. All worries of style points are gone for the UW now, though, as they embark on a critical road trip to face Cal and Stanford this weekend that will do a lot of work in terms of shaking out the conference race.
3. No. 4 California (17-2, 7-2): After a win over Oregon last Friday night, Cal came out flat against Oregon State, losing the first set before finding its way in the 3-1 victory. Outside hitter Tarah Murrey had an enormous game, tallying 20 kills and 18 digs against the Beavers.
4. No. 7 Stanford (12-3, 6-3): It took four sets in both matches, but the young Cardinal ultimately did what they were supposed to do against the Oregon schools. Their game against the Huskies on Saturday night looms as a major litmus test for both teams.
5. No. 6 UCLA (14-3, 7-2): The bipolar Bruins continued their baffling ways this past weekend with their five-game winning streak coming to an end in a five-set loss to Arizona. The Bruins have the most impressive wins in the conference — at USC and at home against Stanford and Cal — but were also dominated by the UW, in addition to their confusing loss to the Wildcats.
6. No. 16 Oregon (12-4, 5-3): The Ducks appear to be slowly dropping back from the upper echelon of Pac-12 teams. A win over either the Trojans or Bruins this weekend would change that tune, but the Ducks looked outclassed against Cal and Stanford last weekend. Their conference-title hopes are on life support.
7. Arizona (11-6, 3-5): After a startling upset of UCLA on Saturday, the Wildcats are the belles of the Pac-12 ball this week. With matches against Colorado and Utah this weekend, the Wildcats should find themselves at .500 in the conference and ranked in the top 25 next Monday — and they could find themselves tied with Oregon for sixth in the conference.
8. Oregon State (11-7, 3-5): The Beavers put on a good show in the Bay Area, fighting both Cal and Stanford into four games. They will continue a brutal stretch of scheduling this week with games at UCLA and USC. And, while pretty much nobody will give the Beavers much of a chance in either game, their play against the Cardinal and Golden Bears proved they can hang with the best of the Pac-12.
9. Utah (7-11, 2-7): The Utes’ victory over Washington State in Pullman was the under-the-radar shocker of the weekend. They’ll have a good shot to pick up at least one more victory this weekend, when hapless Arizona State and Arizona come to town.
10. Washington State (11-7, 3-5): It would be tough to rank the Cougars above the Utes after last weekend, even though all signs on paper point to WSU being the superior team. They will have a tough time bouncing back this weekend, though, with trips to Stanford and Cal looming on their weekend itinerary.
11. Arizona State (4-13, 0-8): The Sun Devils have now pushed Oregon, Cal, and USC to four sets but still have nary a conference victory to show for it. They’ll have their best chance yet this weekend, traveling to Utah and Colorado. If ASU is still winless next Monday, then there will be serious cause for concern in Tempe.
12. Colorado (5-12, 0-9): Despite pushing the UW nearly to the limit in the final two sets of the teams’ game Friday, the Buffaloes are still looking to win their first set of the conference season.
Reach reporter Kevin Dowd at email@example.com or on Twitter @kevindowd.
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