Stanford can clinch Pac-12 volleyball title against USC

Jenna Gray paces the conference and is fourth nationally with 12.03 assists per set. Photo by Al Chang/

The fourth-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team hopes to finish among the top four in the nation and thus be able to host the first four rounds of the NCAA tournament.

The Cardinal (22-3, 15-1) had a small margin of error before losing at Washington last week. This week Stanford is rated No. 7 in the NCAA Women's Volleyball RPI and will need a little help to move up.

Kathryn Plummer
Don't expect visiting USC (20-7, 12-4) to cooperate when it visits Wednesday for a 7 p.m. Pac-12 Conference game. The 14th-ranked Trojans are on fire, bringing a five-game winning streak and the national Player of the Week Khalia Lanier to Maples Pavilion.

Lanier leads the team and is fifth in the Pac-12 with 4.09 kills and 4.63 points per set. The outside hitter is also eighth in the league with 0.33 aces per set.

Stanford sophomore Kathryn Plummer leads the Pac-12 with 4.70 kills per set, ranking seventh in the nation, and is the conference leader and sixth nationally with 5.42 points per set.

Sophomore Jenna Gray paces the conference and is fourth nationally with 12.03 assists per set, while junior Tami Alade is tops in the Pac-12 and sixth nationally with a .433 attack percentage.

USC is the only team with a chance to take a share of the conference and with a chance to move ahead of the Cardinal in the RPI ratings. The Trojans are currently ninth.

Stanford, the defending national champions, has its own set of motivations. In addition to hosting four rounds, the Cardinal can win its first outright conference title in three years.

Stanford holds a 62-24 lead in the all-time series with USC and beat the Trojans in four sets in Los Angeles earlier this season. USC's last win over Stanford came in five sets on Sept. 27, 2015 at Maples Pavilion.

The Trojans were Stanford's tough opponents between 2011-15, compiling a 5-4 record over that span. The Cardinal is looking to sweep the series in two consecutive years for the first times since 2009-10.

Wednesday is Equality Night as Stanford and USC will celebrate inclusion and diversity in sports.

Stanford hosts No. 18 UCLA (16-9, 9-7) on Thursday at 8 p.m.

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