Seven NCAA Tournament bids awarded Saturday, 11 more on the line Sunday

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Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Oates holds up the Big Sky trophy as her team celebrates/Thomas Hoffman photo

Seven NCAA Tournament bids were awarded Saturday. 

The WAC had the biggest surprise as seventh-seeded Utah Valley scored its third upset in a row to win the tournament.

Reverse sweeps to win titles?

Of course, in our version of March Madness. UMBC did it to win the America East, Towson did it to win the Colonial Athletic. There were two 0-2 comebacks in conference semifinals.

There are 11 more championship matches Sunday.

Western Kentucky, ranked No. 18, plays Rice in the Conference USA final, and it’s one of the few conference tournaments where the loser is assured an at-large NCAA bid.

There was a big upset in the Horizon League, where UIC pulled off a reverse sweep at Milwaukee. 

Line of the day: The Citadel’s Sharlissa de Jesus had a career-high 30 kills, hitting .393, and added a block and 17 digs. Her team, seeded seventh, plays for the SoCon title,

Morgan Romano did it again for Rider, the fourth match in a row for her with exactly 26 kills.

We have a conference-by-conference breakdown of who won bids and Sunday’s finals. 

Also, the Mid-American Conference tournament gets underway Sunday with two quarterfinals. Click here for the MAC Championship page.

You can watch every match. Go to our VolleyballMag.com TV and Streaming Listings to get the viewing links.

For more on teams playing in conferences that don’t have post-season tournaments, see our story later Sunday here at VolleyballMag.com.

Saturday’s NCAA bids

ASUN — FGCU (26-5) came away with a 25-17, 17-25, 25-20, 25-21 victory over Jacksonville State (26-5) for its second title in four years. FGCU made the final for the sixth year in a row. 

FGCU had four players with eight or more kills, including 18 by Erin Shomaker. She added an ace, a block, and 14 digs. Dana Axner had 22 digs, five assists, and an ace, and Chelsey Lockey had two kills in five errorless attempts, 45 assists, 12 digs, and four blocks, one solo.

Lena Kindermann had 17 kills for JSU, hit .371 and added two blocks and three digs. Lexie Libs had five kills in 11 errorless tries, 39 assists, three aces, and 11 digs.

AMERICA EAST — It certainly seemed early on that UAlbany (14-15) was headed to the NCAA Tournament. But UMBC (19-11) defended its spring title with a 22-25, 18-25, 25-10, 25-19, 15-10 comeback victory. Freshman Mia Bilusic led with 23 kills as she hit .300 and had two assists, an ace, four blocks, and 11 digs. UMBC is going to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time.

UAlbany’s Danielle Tedesco had 19 kills, seven blocks, and four digs.

BIG SKY — Northern Colorado (24-6) battled long and hard for its ninth win in a row, a 30-28, 21-25, 14-25, 25-22, 15-8 victory over Weber State (20-9). 

Makenzie Harris had career highs of 23 kills and 22 digs for UNC, plus an assist and two aces. Rachel Hikcman and Lauren Strain had 16 kills each, and Kailey Jo Ince had 15 kills, an assist, an ace, a block, and 22 digs. Syd Cole had career-highs of 69 assists and 16 digs, plus a kill and a block.

Weber State’s Rylin Adams had a career-high 27 kills, three aces, two blocks, and 15 digs. Makayla Sorenson had 24 digs, three assists, and an ace. Ashlyn Power had a kill, 56 assists, a block, and 22 digs.

Weber State beat UNC in the Big Sky final last spring, and they split their regular-season meetings this fall. This will be Northern Colorado’s sixth NCAA trip.

CAA — Towson (26-4) got its third Colonial title in a row the hard way, coming back for a 19-25, 17-25, 25-19, 25-23, 15-12 victory over Elon (17-11).

Irbe Lazda led a balanced attack with a career-high 17 kills, an assist, six blocks, and two digs. Nina Cajic had 13 kills and hit .333, and Lydia Wiers had 11 kills, hit .381, and had an ace, two digs, and nine blocks, one solo. Setters Megan Wilson and Kristin Spengler combined for a kill, 55 assists, an ace, and 13 digs. Rachel Hess had 23 digs, an assist, and an ace.

Towson is the first team to win three CAA titles in a row since George Mason did it from 1992-96.

Elon’s Jenn Krzeminski had 15 kills with no errors in 23 attacks, two aces, four digs, and two blocks, one solo. Kellyn Trowse had 13 kills, an assist, two blocks, and 12 digs. Natalie Cummins had 10 kills with one error in 17 attacks and nine blocks. Haylie Clark had eight kills, hit .400, and had 46 assists, three aces, four blocks, and 13 digs. Jordan Gower had 16 digs, seven assists, and an ace

NEC — Sacred Heart (19-9) came away with a 21-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-19 victory over Bryant (21-11).

Olivia Fairchield led SHU with 12 kills, four blocks, and four digs. Sarah Ciszek had 10 kills with one error in 26 attacks, 31 assists, two aces, a block, and 18 digs. Dominique Felix had 10 kills, two assists, an ace, a block, and 17 digs.

Bryant, which split its regular-season matches with SHU, had four players with nine or more kills, 14 each by Carolina Kennedy and Riley James. Abby Rae had 33 digs, four assists, and two aces. Mia Cergol had a kill, 44 assists, an ace, a block, and 17 digs.

Last spring, Sacred Heart, which went 10-0 in the regular season, had to forfeit the conference-title match to LIU when the program was hit by COVID. 

OHIO VALLEY — Southeast Missouri State (26-7) had to go the distance to beat Morehead State 25-22, 25-23, 19-25, 15-25, 15-13 in a battle of regular-season co-champions.

Southeast Missouri, winning the OVC crown for the second time in three years and seventh overall, got 21 kills from Laney Malloy, who had 16 digs and two blocks, one solo. Zoey Beasley had 18 kills, two digs, and five blocks, one solo. Tara Beilsmith had 29 digs, four assist, and an ace. Claire Ochs had five kills, 45 assists, three blocks, and 19 digs. SEMO will enter the NCAA Tournament as one of the country’s hottest teams after winning its 10th match in a row.

Olivia Lohmeier had 18 kills for Morehead State (20-12) to go with four blocks and six digs. Maycie Welborn had 15 kills, five blocks, and three digs. Allison Whitten had 40 digs, five assists, and an ace. 

WAC — Utah Valley (16-12) was probably the last team expected to win, but the seventh-seeded Wolverines defended their title with a 25-18, 25-22, 25-16 sweep of fifth-seeded Grand Canyon (19-7). 

Utah Valley beat second-seeded NM State in five in the quarterfinals and swept  No. 6 Stephen F. Austin in the semifinals. Saturday, Kazna Tanuvasa led with 10 kills as she hit .474 with one error in 19 attacks to go with two assists, seven digs, and two blocks, one solo. Tori Dorius had seven kills in 10 errorless swings and five blocks. Bryton Bishop had 14 digs, three assists, and two aces, and Abbie Miller had 19 assists, five aces, and a dig.

Grand Canyon, which beat UVU twice in the regular season, got 12 kills from Ashley Lifgren, who hit .360. 

Sunday’s conference finals

ATLANTIC 10 — Top-seeded Dayton (24-5) plays sixth-seeded Fordham (10-19).

Dayton pulled a reverse sweep as it survived 22-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-23, 15-7 against fifth-seeded Duquesne (13-16). Dayton trailed 21-16 in the fourth set. Jamie Peterson led with 26 kills, 18 digs, and four blocks, one solo. Lexie Almodovar had 21 kills, two aces, two blocks, and 22 digs. Livie Sandt had two kills, 50 assists, two ace, five blocks, and 11 digs.

Duquesne’s Summer Slade had 27 kills, two blocks, and 23 digs. Hailey Poling had two kills, 56 assists, 18 digs, and three blocks, one solo, and Camile Spencer had 28 digs and four assists.

Fordham knocked off second-seeded VCU (18-12) in four. Isabel Fichtel and Bella Urena had 13 kills each and Aria De La Rosa had 12. Fichtell had five blocks, one solo. Mallory Lipski had 28 digs, four assists, and two aces.

Dayton won both their meetings this season.

BIG SOUTH — Top-seeded High Point (24-6) plays second-seeded Campbell (20-9). 

High Point swept North Carolina A&T (20-10). Maggie Salley led with 13 kills and hit .476. 

Campbell swept Winthrop (18-10). Sarah Colla led with eight kills, an assist, an ace, three blocks, and six digs. 

High Point and Campbell split their two matches this season.

CONFERENCE USA — You almost knew from the start that No. 18 Western Kentucky would play Rice. Each went 12-0 and won its division, but they did not meet in the regular season.

WKU (26-1) swept UTEP (21-7) as Lauren Matthews had 13 kills and hit .524 in a 25-16, 25-17, 25-23 victory. Matthews had three blocks, one solo. Paige Briggs had 10 kills, an ace, seven digs, and two blocks.

Rice swept Middle Tennessee (9-11) 25-16, 25-19, 25-16. Nicole Lennon had 19 kills with one error in 35 attacks to hit .514 and had an ace, 14 digs, and three blocks, one solo.

WKU has won 19 in a row; Rice has won 14 in a row.

HORIZON — It was quite a night at Milwaukee.

UIC (19-11) went down 0-2 and came back to knock off top-seeded Milwaukee (22-9) 15-25, 11-25, 25-21, 25-21, 15-10 on its home floor. Later, Northern Kentucky (20-7) got past Wright State (23-8) in five.

Paola Santiago stayed hot for UIC as she had 24 kills, hit .309, and had four aces, three blocks, and 22 digs. Martina Delucchi had 11 kills, three assists, two blocks, and 11 digs. Sohila Wafeek had two kills in three errorless tries, 51 assists, eight digs and two blocks, one solo. 

Milwaukee had four players with 12 or more kills, 19 by Ari Miller, who hit .366 and had an assist, a block, and three digs. Rylie Vaughn had two kills, 53 assists, an ace, a block, and 15 digs.

Northern Kentucky held a 21-9 blocking advantage over Wright State. Reilly Briggs had 18 kills, hit .333 and had four blocks and a dig. Anna Brinkmann had 15 kills, an ace, 21 digs, and eight blocks, two solo. Sequoia Hunt had six kills and nine blocks. Anna Burke had 27 digs and four assists. Wright State had five players with 11 or more kills, 14 apiece by Teddie Sauer, Callie Martin, and Sam Ott.

NKU beat UIC in their only meeting this season.

MAAC — Fairfield (23-8) did it the hard way, falling behind 2-1 and then trailing 21-18 in the fourth before taking an 18-25, 25-14, 17-25, 25-23, 15-5 victory over Canisius (11-18). 

The Stags will try to win their 12 conference title when they play Rider (19-11) and the incredible Morgan Romano, who had exactly 26 kills for the fourth match in a row and fifth time in seven matches. Rider swept Quinnipiac (11-18). 

KJ Johnson had 24 kills for Fairfield to go with an assist, an ace, 14 digs, and four blocks, one solo. 

Romano had three errors in 53 attacks to hit .434 and had an ace, two blocks, and seven digs. 

Fairfield swept Rider in both meetings this season.

MEAC — The regular-season co-champions will play for the NCAA bid.

Second-seeded Delaware State (26-3) beat Coppin State (16-12) in four and will play top-seeded Howard (17-12). Howard beat North Carolina Central (10-14) in four. 

Delaware State, in the final for the first time since 2010, got 14 kills from Valeria Otero, who had three aces, a block, and 17 digs.

Howard’s Dami Awojobi had 14 kills and hit .385. The Bison hit .345. Milexa Cardona had three kills in five errorless tries, 47 assists, four aces, two blocks, and 14 digs.

Howard beat Delaware State in their only meeting. The title match will be shown on ESPNU at 8 p.m. Eastern.

PATRIOT — Colgate (17-9) will play American (19-13) for the title. 

Colgate beat Navy (13-14) in four as Alli Lowe had 18 kills, an assist, a block, and 14 digs. Athena Leota had 12 kills, an assist, four blocks, and two digs, and Libby Overmyer had 12 kills, two assists, two aces, a block, and seven digs.

Zeynep Uzen had 28 kills as American beat Lafayette (15-10) in four. Uzen had six errors in 55 attacks to hit .400 and had an assist, an ace, a block, and 11 digs. Chiara Bosetti had 23 digs, two assists, and an ace. Tyra Areskoug had two kills in three errorless tries, 43 assists, an ace, a block, and seven digs.

Colgate swept both their meetings this season.

SOCON — Fourth-seeded Wofford (17-13) put an end to the run by No. 9 Furman (9-20) with a four-set victory and will play seventh-seeded The Citadel (13-11), which knocked off third-seeded Samford (11-18) in four. 

The Citadel is in the title match for the first time. Sharlissa de Jesus had her 30 kills with six errors in 61 attacks. Ali Ruffin had 21 kills, hit .319, and had two assists, an ace, and 16 digs. Belle Hogan had three kills, 55 assists, two aces, a block and 11 digs. Samford’s Kenya McQuirter had 18 kills.

Sarah McLean led Wofford — which had lost to Furman twice this season — with 18 kills. She hit .469 and had five blocks. Emory Wyatt had 10 kills and seven blocks, and Sarah Barham had eight kills and 11 blocks, two solo.

Wofford and The Citadel split their regular-season matches.

SWAC — Top-seeded Jackson State (17-12) plays No. 2 Florida A&M (24-6) after both survived five-set semifinals.

Jackson State beat Alabama State (17-17) as Alexis Williams had 20 kills, five aces, 14 digs, and two blocks. 

FAMU hit .392 and beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff (18-16) as Dominque Washington and Jasmine Robinson had 20 kills apiece. Washington had two assists, four aces, two blocks — one solo — and was credited with perfect serve receive in 59 attempts.

JSU and FAMU split their two matches this season with the home team winning in sweeps.

SOUTHLAND — Third-seeded McNeese (18-10), which knocked off second-seeded and host HBU (21-8) in four, will play top-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (18-9). TAMUCC swept UIW (13-19).

McNeese got 25 kills from Anyse Smith and 18 from Aryn Johnson, who had 12 digs. Lizzy Low had 28 digs, three assists, and an ace. 

TAMUCC’s Rachel Young had 11 kills and hit .450 to go with three digs and three blocks, one solo. Carissa Barnes had 30 digs, two assists, and two aces.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi beat McNeese in their only meeting this season.

SUN BELT — The two division winners will face off for the NCAA bid.

South Alabama (24-6) won the East and is on a 12-match winning streak after beating UT Arlington (12-15) in four — 25-8 in the fourth. The opponent is Texas State (20-11), which has won 14 in a row after sweeping Coastal Carolina (19-9).

South Alabama hit .307 and had four players with 11 or more kills, 13 by Niki Capizzi, who hit .417 and had an ace, seven blocks, and a dig.

Jada Gardner led Texas State with 15 kills as she hit .385 and had an ace and seven digs.

South Alabama swept Texas State in their only meeting.

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