American Athletic Conference volleyball teams hold a .633 (50-29) nonconference record through the first two weeks of the 2018 season. The league’s 50 wins include a pair of victories over ranked opponents last Saturday, as UCF knocked off No. 7 USC and Cincinnati took down No. 25 Colorado State.
UCF, Cincinnati and Wichita State each received votes in this week’s AVCA Coaches’ Poll. Eight of the 12 teams in the conference hold winning records, as the league prepares for a 36-match slate in Week 3.
- Cincinnati (5-1) is coming off a 3-0 weekend against No. 25 Colorado State, TCU and Florida State. Jordan Thompson has been a force at the net and currently leads the nation in kills per set (6.11), points (180), points per set (6.67) and kills (165). She was named MVP of the Colorado State Tournament and conference Offensive Player of the Week after recording three double-doubles, two matches with 30- kills and averaged 6.57 kills per set. The Bearcats travel to Durham, N.C., to face Duke, Coastal Carolina and East Tennessee State this weekend.
- UCF (3-3) became the second team in conference history to take down a top-10 opponent, defeating No. 7 USC in four sets last weekend. Last year, Wichita State defeated No. 8 Creighton, 3-1. Erin Olson and McKenna Melville had double-doubles, while Jordan Pingel earned a spot on the conference’s Honor Roll for recording 24 digs to lead the team in the back row. Kristina Fisher led the offense with a match-high 20 kills. UCF also swept then-No. 3 USC back in 2011. The Knights host the UCF Challenge this weekend, welcoming FIU, Illinois-Chicago and Wofford to The Venue.
- Houston (8-0) is undefeated and off to its best start since 1987. The Cougars have garnered MVP honors at two weekend tournaments with outside hitter Megan Duncan claiming the award at the UNO Tournament and setter Katie Krebs earning the honor at the Sawyer Camillo Memorial Classic. Kendall Haywood ranks eighth in the nation, hitting .500 to lead The American. The Cougars have played one home match this year before hosting the Flo Hyman Collegiate Cup at Athletics/Alumni Center this weekend.
- USF (5-1) has played with grit, holding a 4-0 record in five-set matches. Since the start of the 2017 season, the Bulls are 7-0 in five-setters. USF continues to get contributions from its newcomers with freshman CC Clausen highlighting the group. Clausen earned American Defensive Player of the Week and Tiger Classic Best Defender honors and ranks No. 2 in The American, averaging 5.43 digs per set. The Bulls travel north for the Blackbird Invitational hosted by LIU Brooklyn for three matches this weekend.
- Tulane (6-2) went 11-2 in nonconference matches last season, and is up to six wins in 2018. After splitting four matches last weekend, the Green Wave travels to Piscataway, N.J., to face Navy, Rutgers and Howard. Tulane is atop the conference in aces (1.92), assists (13.96) and blocks per set (2.87), as well as hitting percentage (.251), services aces (50) and total blocks (74.5). Markenzie Benoit and Dayna Kern combine for a dual threat at the net, leading the conference in blocks.
- Wichita State (4-2) will look to rebound from a 1-2 weekend at the BYU Nike Invitational. The Shockers defeated West Virginia on Friday before falling to No. 1 Stanford and No. 9 BYU. Wichita State continues its challenging nonconference schedule when it travels to Omaha, Neb., to take on Iowa State and No. 14 Creighton. The Cyclones received votes in this week’s AVCA Coaches’ Poll. The Shockers have only faced teams with 2017 postseason bids this season.
- UConn (5-2) head coach Kris Grunwald reached the 100-win milestone after going 2-1 at the UConn Challenge. The Huskies won of four-set matches over New Hampshire and Iona on Friday. Freshman Caylee Parker continues to be a force for UConn, earning two-consecutive spots on the league’s Honor Roll. Setter Emma Turner has a league-high five double-doubles this year. The Huskies head to Chicago. this weekend for the DePaul Invitational.
- ECU (5-2) has its home-opening tournament this weekend, hosting Eastern Washington, Gardner-Webb and Charlotte for the Pirate Invitational. All five of ECU’s wins have been sweeps, as the Pirates are coming off a 3-1 week. ECU has league-bests in opponent hitting percentage (.144) and digs per set (17.00).
- Tulsa (4-2) will also be hosting its first matches of the season when it welcomes Abilene Christian, Northwestern State and Oral Roberts to the Reynolds Center this weekend. Reigning American Libero of the Year Taylor Horsfall leads the conference with 5.50 digs per set.
- Temple and SMU, the No. 3 and 4 teams in the conference’s preseason coaches’ poll, respectively, will look to bounce back from losses. SMU will compete in the Fight in the Fort in Fort Worth, Texas, after dropping matches to NC State and No. 15 Creighton last week. The Owls have lost five straight matches after winning their season opener and will take on High Point, No. 21 Utah and Villanova in the Villanova Invitational this weekend.