Men's Water Polo The biggest story this week in the Pac-12 was the NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship which was being held at USC. In water polo after the regular season concludes, four teams face off in a playoff. This year the semifinals which were played this past Saturday, saw two Pac-12 teams in action. 4 time defending national champions and #1 USC (27-0) faced off with 4th seeded #10 Air Force (19-10). USC struggled to begin the game and found themselves down 2-1 in the first 4 minutes. USC rebounded and took a 4-2 lead into the second frame. The Trojans would score the first goal in the second before Air Force answered with one of their own to make it a 5-3 game. The match would never be this close as USC added three more goals before half time to take an 8-3 lead. The third was not any better for the Falcons as USC outscored them 6-2 to go into the final quarter with a 14-5 lead. The Trojans also outscored Air Force 4-2 in the final frame to win the match 18-7 and send them into the championship match. The other semifinal saw the runner up in 3 of the last 4 years, #2 UCLA (27-4) face off against #11 St. Francis Brooklyn (16-9). UCLA opened the match by taking a 2-0 lead but saw the lead cut in half with 36 seconds left when St Francis made it 2-1. It seemed to light a fire in the Bruins who then shutout St Francis in the second quarter 5-0 to take a 7-1 lead into the half. For all the Terrier fans hoping this match would turn into a blowout were very disappointed. St Francis answered UCLA's first score of the third with one of their own to make the match 8-2. UCLA would add five more to take a 13-2 lead into the final quarter. The Bruins would outscore them in the final frame 4-1 to win the match 17-3. The championship match would now see crosstown rivals USC and UCLA face each other for the 3rd time in 4 years. In both previous meetings between these teams this year, USC would win them both by one goal which would almost guarantee that this match would turn out closer than the semis. The match started with USC scoring 24 seconds into the game to take the lead and the momentum out of the gate. This would be short lived for the Trojans as UCLA would go on to tie it at one a minute and a half later. The Bruins would score the next three to take a 4-1 lead before USC would be able to score another to cut their lead to 4-2. Both teams would then trade goals and the first quarter would end 5-3. The second quarter started off better for the Trojans as they would score the first three goals to take their first lead since the beginning of the match, 6-5. Just like their first lead, this one would also be short lived as just under a minute and a half later the Bruins would score to tie the game at 6. The first half would end with a couple of more UCLA goals to take an 8-6 lead. 39 seconds into the second half the lead would be cut to 8-7 with a USC score. Once again, both teams would trade goals and the third would end in a 9-8 UCLA lead. USC would go on to score the first goal of the 4th quarter to tie the game at 9. They would go just over 3 minutes with neither team scoring until the Bruins took a 10-9 lead with 3:09 remaining. At the 2:25 mark on a powerplay, USC was able to score to tie the score at 10-10 and guarantee that this championship would be one to remember. And it was, as USC was able to score with 40 seconds remaining to clinch an unprecedented 5th straight national championship. Women's Volleyball The Pac-12 saw seven of the teams (tied with lead in nation with Big Ten) make it to the NCAA tournament. Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC, and Washington all hoped to bring home a championship. First Round The 5th seeded Oregon Ducks (25-4) played host to the Big Sky Champion Northern Colorado Bears in only their third NCAA appearance. Northern Colorado showed they were no pushover as they battled the Ducks hard in the first set as they were tied 11-11. Unfortunately for them, the Ducks were able to score the next 9 to take a commanding 20-11. They went back and forth for the last several points of the set as Oregon took it 25-14. The second set started similarly before Oregon was able to pull away a little bit with an 8-3 lead. Northern Colorado battled back and pulled within one down 8-9 before Oregon went on a run. They were able to build a 17-11 lead before a service error gave the Bears new life. They were able to make the score 18-20 but was only able to score one more point the rest of the set as Oregon took the second 25-19. The third set started close as Oregon lead 5-4. They were able to add a few more and lead 11-5 at one point. They traded points for the rest of the set and Oregon maintained about a 5 or 6 point lead throughout and eventually took the set 25-18 for the sweep. In the same regional, the Arizona State Sun Devils (20-13) met with the Oklahoma Sooners (23-10) in Provo, Utah. The first set was all tied at 4 before the Sun Devils were able to score the next 7 to take an 11-4 lead. Both teams more or less traded points for the rest of the set as Arizona State won it 25-20. The second set was somewhat similar only in Oklahoma's favor as they built a 7-3 lead. Then for the rest of the set they went back and forth with the Sooners winning it 25-19. The third set was all tied up at 5 before Oklahoma went on a run. They were able to score the next 7 to take a 12-5 lead. Arizona St was not going to lay down and pulled within two at 14-12. They went back and forth and Oklahoma was able to make it 17-16. The Sooners were able to pull away at the end to take the 3rd set 25-18 and a 2-1 lead. The fourth set was pretty even as Arizona St held a slight lead at 10-9. They had a 17-15 lead and were able to string together a few points to take a 20-15 lead over the Sooners and eventually the set 25-19 to force a 5th and final set. It was an even fifth set as they were all tied at 7,8, and 9. Arizona St built a two point lead at 11-9 but Oklahoma was able to come back and tie it 11-11. It was all tied at 12 before Oklahoma score 3 of the last 4 points to win 15-13 and take the match. The last Pac-12 team in the Omaha regional was the 13th seeded Washington Huskies (23-6) faced the Southland Conference champion Central Arkansas Sugar Bears (30-4) in Seattle. UCA got off to a great start with a 4-1 lead over the Huskies, but this was short lived. UW was able to score the next 7 to take a 7-4 lead. They went back and forth for the next 4 points and UW lead 9-6. The first set would never be this close again and they took it easily 25-13. The second set was more competitive and they were all tied up at 6. They went back and forth an the Huskies held a 10-8 lead, From there, they were able to build on it and lead 16-10 at one point. After they traded a point and it was 17-11, UCA scored the next 4 to pull within 2 at 17-15. They only were able to score 2 more against they Huskies as UW took the second set 25-17. The third set was close for the beginning as UW held a slight 9-8 lead. The Huskies scored the next 4 then the Bears scored the next 3 and it was a 13-11 UW lead. The Washington lead was only a couple of points until it was 22-18 and UCA was unable to score again. Washington took the third set 25-18 to sweep the match. The Austin regional only had one Pac-12 team as the 6th seeded USC Trojans (27-5) hosted the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Fairfield Stags (22-8). The first set did not start well for Fairfield as USC took a 5-0 lead. A few points later USC held an 8-3 and the set was never closer as the Trojans won it easily 25-8. The second set started much better for the Stags as they held their only lead of the match to this point at 1-0. It was all tied up at 3 before USC went on a 9-1 run to take a 12-4 lead. The two teams went back and forth for the next 15 points as USC held a 20-11 lead. Fairfield was unable to score again and the Trojans won the set 25-11. Fairfield opened the 3rd set taking the first two points for their biggest lead of the match at 2-0. USC won the next 5 points and held a 3 point lead for most of the time until the score was 9-6. A Stag service error lead to a 16-4 run by USC to take the final set 25-10 and sweep the match.The Berkeley regional held the last 3 Pac-12 teams and the first match was the 7th seeded defending national champions UCLA Bruins (22-7) hosting the Northeast Conference champion LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds. The beginninf of the first set started evenly as both teams were tied at 4. UCLA then scored 6 of their next 7 to take a 10-5 lead. The Blackbirds were able to cut the lead down to 3 at 15-12 UCLA but were only able to score one more point the rest of the set as UCLA won the first 25-13. LIU fought hard to start the second set as they were all tied up at 5. The Bruins scored the next 5 to take a 10-5 lead. They went back and forth for the next 10 points as UCLA lead 15-10. Unfortunately for the Blackbirds, the set got away from them as they only scored 5 more and UCLA won 25-15. In the third set, UCLA scored the first 4 before LIU was able to get on the scoreboard. The Bruins lead 10-3 before LIU scored a couple to cut their lead to five, 10-5. The Bruins then scored 8 of the next 10 to take a 18-7 lead. LIU fought hard and scored 5 of the next 12 points but it wasn't enough as UCLA won the final set 25-12 to sweep the match. In another match in the regional, the Cal Bears (15-15) faced off against the North Carolina Tar Heels (25-5). North Carolina had a very good start to the first set as they built a 6-1 lead on Cal. They built up a 7 point lead before Cal was able to cut it down a little to 5 at 11-6. It stayed about the same for a while until it was 18-13 Tar Heels. A 4 point run by Cal made it a one point match at 18-17. They traded points and then it was all tied up at 20. The Bears were able to come back down 2 to tied it at 23. A 24-23 Cal lead disappeared on a block by UNC who then scored the next 2 to win the first set 26-24. The next set started very closely as UNC held a slim lead at 9-8 until they scored the next 3 to go up 12-8. It was a great battle over the next 22 points as UNC continued to hold one or two point leads until Cal tied it 21-21. The Tar Heels got 3 of the next 5 points to take a 24-23 lead before scoring the last point to take the set 25-23. Once again, the third set was very close to begin as UNC held a one point lead at 8-7. It was tied over the next several points at 11, 12, and 13 before Cal went on a 4 point run to take a 17-13 lead. Cal outscored UNC 8-5 to finish the set 25-18 and stay alive in the match. The fourth set was very close in the beginning as it was back and forth until the score was 14-13 UNC. They proceed to outscore Cal 6-1 to take a 20-14 lead and it put a damper into the chances of Cal winning. Cal was only able to score two more points and lost the set 25-16 and the match 3-1. The final match in the regional saw the Pac-12 champion Stanford Cardinal (27-3) face off against the SWAC champion Jackson State Tigers (24-11). The first set did not start off well for Jackson St as Stanford built up a 6-0 lead before they were able to get on the scoreboard. It was 9-2 Stanford before Jackson St was able to put a few points together to make the score 9-5 Cardinal. A 10-1 Cardinal run increased their lead to 19-6. Jackson St tried to put a few points together but it was too little too late as Stanford took the first set 25-10. The second set started off even worse for the Tigers as Stanford took 9 of the first 10 points for a 9-1 lead. A nice little run by Jackson St cut the lead to 5 at 11-6. They built their lead up to 14-6 and it stayed at 7 or 8 until it was 18-10 Cardinal. A very nice effort by Jackson St on the final 14 points by taking half of them was not enough to come back as they lost the set 25-17 to Stanford. The Cardinal got back on track in the third set by scoring the first seven for a 7-0 lead. Both teams split the next 10 points as the Cardinal maintained their 7 point lead 12-5. It started to get away from the Tigers when they were outscored 7-2 by the Cardinal as they lead 19-7. Jackson St only managed 3 more points and Stanford took the final set 25-10 for the sweep. Second Round The first match in the second round in the Omaha regional featured Oregon vs #13 Dayton Flyers (27-4) in Eugene. Oregon got off to a great start in the first set by taking the first 4 point and a 4-0 lead. Dayton cut the lead to 5-3 but this would be the closest they would get to the Ducks in this set. Oregon would get 10 of the next 12 points to increase their lead to 15-5. Oregon more or less keeps a 10 point lead throughout the set to win it 25-15. The second set saw Oregon jump out to an 8-2 lead before Dayton tried to get back into it. Dayton would take 4 of the next 5 to cut it to a 3 point lead 9-6. The Ducks kept it at a 4 or 5 point lead until the score was 19-15. Dayton tried catch up and got within 2 points at 19-17 Oregon. Both teams would trade points until it was 22-20 Ducks. Oregon would finish off the set taking the last 3 to win it 25-20. The third set was the closest out of all of them. The first lead of more than one point was at 8-6 Oregon. The Flyers would come back to tie it and it would go back and forth until it was tied at 11. The Ducks would then use a small run to give them a 14-11 lead. Dayton would cut the lead to 15-14 before another run gave Oregon an 18-14 lead. They would increase their lead to 20-15 before Dayton made a comeback and made the set 20-18. The Flyers would make it a one point game at 21-20 but it wouldn't be enough as Oregon would take the set 25-21 to sweep the match. The final match in the regional saw the Washington Huskies faced off against the Hawaii Warriors (26-2) in Seattle in what was probably the best matchup of the tournament to date. Hawaii would start the first set with a 3-1 lead before UW would come back to tie it at 3. Hawaii would then take a 5-3 lead before the Huskies came back to tie it at 5. They would be tied at 6 until UW used a small run to take a 3 point lead at 9-6. UH would immediately come back to tie it at 9 and then UW would tie it at 10. Then Hawaii would build a lead that the Huskies couldn't come back from. They would take the next 6 points for a 16-10 lead. UW would try to come back as they both split the next 8 points to make it 20-14. The Huskies would outscore Hawaii for the final 11 points of the set 6-5 but it would be too little as Hawaii takes the first set 25-20. The second set was similar to the first only in Washington's favor. Hawaii would take an early 5-3 lead but it would be their only lead in the set. UW would take the next 7 points for a 10-5 lead. Hawaii would cut the lead to 10-7, but the Huskies would immediately take it back to a 5 point lead at 12-7. The pattern would continue until the Huskies had an 18-13 lead. Hawaii would score the next 4 to make it a one point lead at 18-17 and then again at 19-18 but it wouldn't be enough as UW wins the set 25-20 to tie it at 1. The third set started off going back and forth until Hawaii built an 8-5 lead. UW would get it closer and then Hawaa would pull away a little until it was a one point lead for Hawaii at 10-9. The Warriors would take the next 5 points and 7 of 9 to make it 17-11 Hawaii. UW would cut the lead to 3 at 17-14 but it would stay as a Hawaii 2 or 3 point lead until it was 21-18. Hawaii would then take 4 of the final 5 points to win the 3rd set 25-19. The fourth set saw Hawaii jump out to a 7-3 lead until UW took the next 7 to take a 10-7 lead. Thr Huskies would have about a 5 point lead for a good part of the set until it was 18-13 UW. Hawaii would take the next 5 to tie it at 18. They would then go back and forth until it was set point at 24-21 Washington. Hawaii would take the next 4 for match point at 25-24. UW would go on to take the next 3 points and win the set 27-25 and force a 5th set. The fifth set would see Hawaii jump out to a 3-1 lead that would not last long as they would be tied at 5,6, and 7. UW would take the next 4 points for an 11-7 lead. They built their lead to 13-18, Hawaii tried to battle back by cutting it to 13-11 but it was too little as the Huskies win the final set 15-11 to win the match. The only Pac-12 match in the Austin regional saw the USC Trojans face the St Mary's Gaels (18-10). The first set started off well for SMC as they lead 5-3 before USC tied it at 5. It went back and forth as they would be tied at 7,8, and 9. It would stay at a 1 or 2 point USC lead until SMC tied it at 14. USC would then take their biggest lead of the set at 17-14 and it would stay like this until SMC tied it at 21. Both teams would keep trading points as it was tied at 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26 before the Trojans would score the next 2 and win 28-26. The second set would start off better for USC as they held a 6-3 lead before SMC would come back to tie it at 6. USC again would grab a small lead before SMC would come back to tie it at 9. USC would then score the next 5 for their biggest lead of the match at 14-9. It would stay as a USC lead until it was 18-15. The Trojans would score 7 of the final 8 points to win the set 25-16 and take a 2-0 lead. The final set started off tied at 4 before USC would score the next 4 for an 8-4 lead. SMC would try to get back into it and cut the lead to 9-7 before USC went on a 4-0 run to make it 13-7. It would stay as a 5 or 6 point lead until it was 18-12 USC. A SMC service error would lead to a 19-12 USC lead and they would trade points for the rest of the set as USC would win it 25-19 and sweep the match. The Berkeley regional would start with the UCLA Bruins hosting the Michigan State Spartans (24-9). The first set began all tied at 4 before a 5 point run by Michigan St which would give them a 9-4 lead. UCLA would cut it to 9-5 before another Spartan run made it 13-5. MSU would increase their lead to 15-6 before the Bruins would go on a run of their own and cut it to 15-9 which was immediately followed by a Spartan run that increased it to their biggest lead of the match at 19-9. The Bruins cut it down to 19-13 before MSU took 6 of the final 10 points to win the set 25-17. The second set started off much better for the Bruins as they opened with a 6-1 lead. Michigan St would try to get back into it and they made it 7-3. It would go back and forth until it was a 9-6 UCLA lead and they would increase it to 12-6. The Spartans would again try to get back into it but down 13-10, UCLA would increase it to 15-10. It would stay a 4 or 5 point lead until the lead was cut to 22-20 Bruins. It would then be tied at 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27 before the Spartans scored the final two points to take the set 29-27. The third set was better to UCLA as they would jump out to a 7-3 lead but much like the last set would blow the lead at it would be tied at 7. UCLA would maintain small leads until it was 14-13. The Bruins would use a 5-0 run to increase it to 19-13. The Bruins would take 6 of the final 11 points to end the set winning 25-18 and stay alive. The fourth set started off very close, tied at 4, 6, and 7 before UCLA grabbed the lead 9-7. The Spartans would cut it to 10-9 before UCLA would take the next 4 and make it 14-9. The Spartans would keep battling until the tied it at 18. It would then also be tied at 19, 21, and 22 until MSU scores the last 3 points to win the set 25-22 and the match 3-1. The final match in the Berkeley regional had the Stanford Cardinal facing the Western Kentucky Hill Toppers (33-4). The first set couldn't have started better for Western Kentucky as they jumped out to a 7-3 lead. But it would be short lived as Stanford would come back to tie it at 7. The Cardinal would use a small run at 11-11 to make it 14-11. Stanford would maintain small leads until 18-15 when they would score the final 7 points to win 25-15. The second set started off tied at 3 before WKU gained a 6-3 lead. The Hill Toppers would maintain small leads from 1 to 3 points for a while until they led 14-12. They would then score the next 2 for their biggest lead of the match at 16-12. Stanford would rebound and score the next 5 for their first lead of the set at 17-16. It would then be tied at 18, 20, 21, and 22 until the Cardinal took 3 of the last 4 to win the set 25-23. The third set was all Stanford as it was tied at 2 early and from then on they never lost the lead. They built themselves an 8-4 but WKU was able to make it 2 points at 9-7. The Cardinals would score the next 5 and 8 of 10 for a 17-9 lead. Stanford would outscore them 8-6 the rest of the way to win the set 25-15 and sweep the match. The next two rounds will see plenty of Pac-12 teams and will take place on the 7th and 8th. Women's Soccer The top ranked Stanford soccer team fell 1-0 to eventual national champion North Carolina Tar Heels the semifinals of the NCAA championship in double overtime. For the first time in four years, the Cardinal failed to reach the championship game. The Cardinal have never beaten the Tar Heels and it looks like the streak will continue. Swimming and Diving This past Saturday, the University of Texas hosted the 2012 AT&T Winter Nationals. On the women's side, USC finished in first place followed by Arizona in second, Texas in third and the other Pac-12 team UCLA finished in fourth. On the men's side, Texas finished in first, followed by Arizona, USC in third and Stanford in 6th place. In Utah on Saturday, the Utes hosted the BYU Cougars in the Deseret Duel. The two teams were neck and neck for the whole meet and it was decided on the final two events were the Utes swept with the women winning 181-117 and the men winning 156-144. Both the Cal men's and women's teams were in Athens, Georgia this weekend for the Georgia Fall Invitational where the women finished in second place and the men finished first. This weekend the Washington State women's swimming team were in Iowa at the Hawkeye Invitational where they finished in 6th place. NCAA Rankings of Pac-12 teams On the women's side, USC is ranked #1, Cal #2, Stanford #6, UCLA #12, Arizona #13 and Arizona St #18. On the men's side, Stanford is #2, Cal is #3, USC #6, Arizona #13 and Utah received votes.