Both major upsets on Sunday happened in the Pac-12: Arizona State swept No. 12 Oregon 25-23, 25-22, 25-22 and No. 25 Utah got the better of No. 13 Washington 25-22, 25-21, 21-25, 25-20.
The loss to Arizona State marked the second defeat in a row for Oregon, which fell to Arizona in five on Friday, but for Arizona State, the victory symbolized yet another milestone in a season of firsts.
Just a week ago, with a five-set win over Cal, the Sun Devils celebrated their first Pac-12 victory since 2016. The Oregon victory is ASU’s first over a ranked team since 2016.
Utah’s defeat of Washington gave the Utes their first Pac-12 win of the season, while Washington suffered its first conference loss.
Also of note, Penn State won its second in a row, reversing its results from last week, Pittsburgh remains undefeated, and Western Kentucky lost its first home conference match since 2011.
Pac-12: Upset victories for Arizona State, Utah — With the win over Oregon (9-5, 2-2), Arizona State (12-4, 3-1) improves to 3-1 in conference, tied with Arizona, Washington, and USC for second in the Pac-12 standings. Utah (9-6, 1-3) sits three from the bottom but overcame a big mental hurdle in scoring its first conference win of the season.
Junior outside hitter Ivana Jeremic led Arizona State in its back-to-back sweeps, first of Oregon State and then No. 12 Oregon. The 6-1 Serbian had a team-high 16 kills in the Oregon match in addition to contributing double-digit digs. As a team, ASU hit .224 to Oregon’s .189.
“It was rough,” said Oregon head coach Matt Ulmer. “Pretty much everything was rough. I thought we were out of control emotionally, all of a sudden we forgot our jobs, what we were supposed to do, we got really sloppy, so it was very disappointing.”
Arizona State had not beaten a ranked opponent since November 2016.
“I’m super excited for the girls and for the program,” Arizona State head coach Sanja Tomasevic said. “This is the biggest win for us thus far. I’m just happy for them to be able to play as well as they have played the last two matches. We had some adversity, some injuries, but we came out of it and we still fought. We did what we had to do to win. I think some of our players have grown in the last two matches and have found a different level of maturity.”
Sixteen kills from freshman outside hitter Megan Yett propelled Utah to its road victory over Washington (11-3, 3-1), but the close match saw similar statistics on both sides of the net: Utah hit .284 to Washington’s .236, had 11 blocks to Washington’s 10, and 57 digs to Washington’s 54. Kara Bajema starred for the Huskies with 22 kills, hitting .320.
“Kara did a really nice job out of system,” said Washington head coach Keegan Cook. “We had to set the ball high when they were keeping us off the net. Most of that lack of balance was from serve-receive, and when you have limited options you end up leaning on your left side too much. Kara carried a heavy load for long periods of time, and we certainly needed more from the rest of our offense.”
In other Pac-12 action, Cal (8-7, 0-4) managed to steal a set from No. 13 USC (11-4, 3-1), but the Trojans got the win in four, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21, 28-26. USC’s First Team All-American outside Khalia Lanier had 26 kills on 60 swings to hit .317 for the match. With 18 digs, libero Victoria Garrick moved up to ninth all-time on the USC career digs list, surpassing beach volleyball’s Jen Kessy and April Ross.
Arizona (14-2, 3-1) kept up its high level of play, sweeping Oregon State (10-6, 0-4) 25-18, 25-13, 25-22 after defeating Oregon in five Friday night. Against OSU, Arizona’s outside hitters Paige Whipple and Kendra Dahlke combined for 32 kills with just two errors. With 14 digs, Dahlke also collected her 11th double-double of the season, and she leads the Pac-12 in that category.
“It’s a rare road sweep,” said Arizona head coach Dave Rubio. “I’m proud of how the team performed today and this weekend, but now it’s about carrying that forward and moving on to next weekend.”
Rankings held in the final Pac-12 match of Sunday as No. 22 Washington State (11-3, 2-2) beat No. 23 Colorado (9-6, 1-3) in four, 21-25, 32-30, 25-19, 26-24. Colorado had double-digit kills from Naghede Abu, Alexa Smith, Anyse Smith, and Justine Spann, but Washington State’s Taylor Mims led the match with 23. Junior WSU setter Ashley Brown set a new personal record with 57 assists.
Big Ten: Penn State 2-0 for the week — No. 9 Penn State (11-3, 2-2) swept No. 17 Michigan (13-2, 2-2) 25-17, 25-21, 25-23 in one of two Big Ten matches Sunday. With senior outside hitter Nia Reed back in the lineup, the Nittany Lions scored two sweeps this week after losing back-to-back matches to open Big Ten play.
Reed had seven kills and three blocks against Michigan, but good passing and defense allowed setter Bryanna Weiskircher to run a lot of her offense through the middle. Serena Gray finished the match with nine kills, hitting .571, and six blocks, while Kaitlyn Hord led the team with 10 kills and added one block.
In the second Big Ten match of the day, Northwestern (10-6, 0-4) hosted Iowa (10-5, 2-2). The Wildcats took the first set and pushed Iowa to five, but Iowa’s season-high 23 blocks proved too much in the end, and the Hawkeyes won 22-25, 28-26, 25-11, 23-25, 15-12.
“We talked about how our team keeps developing and how we took set two in a come-from-behind victory,” Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky said. “We then really took it to them in the third set, but then we were in the battle for the fourth and fifth set. It was a great team effort and it was scrappy game all the way until the end.”
ACC: Pitt stays undefeated — Against Florida State (7-7, 3-1) Sunday, No. 8 Pittsburgh (15-0, 4-0) lost its first set of ACC competition so far this season, but with a 3-1 victory (21-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-17), the Panthers remain undefeated, moving into this week as one of only two unbeaten teams ranked in the top 25.
Middle Layne Van Buskirk starred for Pitt, collecting a career- and match-high 16 kills, hitting .462, and adding seven blocks. With nine blocks and 60 digs as a team, the Panthers held Florida State to a .088 hitting percentage, while handing the Seminoles their first conference loss of the season.
Led by Ashley Murray, Florida State put up a season-high-tying 15 blocks.
“I thought we played pretty well in the first set, but our offense really broke down during the match,” said FSU head coach Chris Poole. “We now see what the top team in the conference looks like, and we need to get to work in our training. We can improve, we just need to get better at all the little things.”
Despite racking up 20 service errors, Louisville (11-4, 4-0) escaped with a five-set victory over Clemson (9-8, 0-4) 25-21, 21-25, 25-18, 23-25, 16-14 to remain unbeaten in conference play. Amanda Green led the Cardinals’ effort with 17 kills, two aces, and 10 digs, while Clemson got 14 kills from Ashtynne Alberts.
Syracuse (8-4, 4-0) also remained undefeated in conference play, taking down Duke (7-6, 1-3) in four sets 18-25, 26-24, 25-21, 25-17. After losing the first set, Syracuse went down by as many as seven in the second and trailed by five in the third, but a number of crucial runs helped the Orange score the victory.
For the fourth match in a row, freshman Polina Shemanova led Syracuse in kills, tallying 25 in addition to 18 digs. Both stats mark new career highs for the Russia native.
In additional ACC action, Notre Dame (9-5, 3-1) escaped with a 3-2 (28-26, 27-25, 21-25, 22-25, 15-12) victory over Georgia Tech (11-6, 0-4). Fighting Irish freshman outside Charley Niego led the match and set a new career high with 23 kills in addition to 13 digs. Freshman setter Zoe Nunez also celebrated a career high with 64 assists.
Miami (7-4, 3-1) defeated Virginia (4-10, 0-4) 25-21, 21-25, 25-20, 25-18 to keep the Cavaliers winless in conference play. Elizaveta Lukianova led the Hurricanes with 15 kills and only one error to hit .519.
NC State (8-6, 2-2) scored a four-set victory (21-25, 26-24, 25-19, 25-23) over Virginia Tech (11-5, 2-2) and senior middle Teni Sopitan had 18 kills and hit .417.
“Any road win in the ACC is a good win,” said NC State head coach Linda Hampton-Keith. “I’m so proud of our efforts today because it wasn’t always pretty, and it certainly wasn’t easy, so our ability to work together as a team against a good Virginia Tech team at home was the highlight of the day.”
Wake Forest (6-10, 1-3) had to go all the way to 21-19 in the fifth set versus Boston College (12-4, 2-2) to score its first ACC win of the season. Outside Caroline Rassenfoss and middle Caitlyn Della combined for 35 kills in the 25-21, 20-25, 25-19, 17-25, 21-19 victory.
SEC: Ranked teams win — No. 11 Florida (13-3, 4-0) extended its win streak to nine in a row with a sweep of Alabama (13-4, 1-3) 25-20, 25-20, 26-24 Sunday afternoon. Allie and Marlie Monserez ran a crisp offense, collecting 18 and 15 assists, respectively, seizing every opportunity to run things through the middle. As such, Taelor Kellum led the match and set a new career-high with 12 kills, while Rachael Kramer added 10 with zero errors to hit .556.
“This was a great win against an Alabama team that played really well, especially in their pursuit of balls in the back row,” said Florida head coach Mary Wise. “One of the keys to this win was the offensive production by our middles, which is a product of the job done by our back row and setters.”
No. 19 Kentucky (9-4, 3-0) dropped the first set to Missouri (12-4, 2-2), but managed to stay undefeated in conference play 21-25, 25-14, 25-17, 29-27. Leah Edmond had 26 kills, but it was the team’s 15 blocks and 11 services aces that head coach Craig Skinner credited for the win.
“Great defensive effort, with 15 blocks and 11 serving aces, you don’t get many matches like that,” Skinner said. “Really pleased with that effort.”
Kentucky saw three players set new career highs: setter Madison Lilley (16 digs), middle Kendyl Paris (10 block assists), and defensive specialist Lauren Tharp (nine digs, two aces, one kill).
South Carolina (13-1, 4-0) came back from down 0-2 versus Georgia (11-4, 2-2). The 20-25, 18-25, 25-19, 25-17, 15-13 victory extends South Carolina’s win streak to nine in a row. Mikayla Shields led the Gamecocks with 14 kills and 14 digs.
Another pair of five-setters saw Tennessee (12-4, 3-1) defeat Arkansas (6-8, 0-4) 18-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 15-7 and Texas A&M (10-5, 3-0) score a victory over LSU (5-10, 0-4) 24-26, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 15-13. Thirteen different players saw the floor for Tennessee and four hitters contributed at least 13 kills, but in the A&M-LSU match, it was a battle between star outside hitters, with A&M’s Hollann Hans and LSU’s Taylor Bannister tying for the match-high with 21 kills.
A 25-19, 25-21, 18-25, 25-15 defeat of Ole Miss (10-7, 0-3) by Auburn (8-6, 1-3) marks the Tigers’ first conference win of the season and keeps the Rebels winless in the SEC.
Around the nation: Western Kentucky (12-6, 3-1) boasted a streak of 57 home Conference USA victories before losing to Rice (12-4, 3-0) 25-15, 24-26, 25-22, 25-21 Sunday afternoon. Sophomore outside Nicole Lennon led the Owls with 21 kills (hitting .487) and 15 digs, recording her eighth double-double of the season, in addition to five blocks.
“This was a hard-fought win,” said Rice head coach Genny Volpe. “WKU is so tough. I’m so proud of how our team stayed composed. There was no moment in time I think either team felt comfortable. It was back and forth the whole way.”
Rice is the only team still undefeated in C-USA play.
UTSA (11-5, 3-1) celebrated head coach Laura Neugebauer-Groff’s 300th win with the program, a 18-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-22 defeat of UTEP (3-12, 0-3). Groff has been the head coach at UTSA for 17 years and boasts a 300-199 mark at UTSA.
In the American Athletic Conference, UCF (12-3, 3-0) and Cincinnati (12-4, 3-0) remain undefeated, as the Knights swept Memphis (7-9, 0-4) and the Bearcats beat Houston (13-6, 0-4) in straight sets. Cincinnati went on an 18-0 run in the third set and won 25-8. Jordan Thompson, the nation’s kills leader, had 19 kills.
VCU (9-7, 4-0) and Dayton (12-5, 3-1) faced off in a battle of the A10 unbeatens, with the Rams winning 18-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-22 to take the lead in the standings. VCU junior middle blocker Jasmin Sneed had 13 kills, hitting .476, and seven blocks.
The ASUN’s Kennesaw State (13-4, 4-0), Liberty (7-10, 4-0), and FGCU (11-5, 4-0) all won Sunday to remain undefeated and tied, along with Lipscomb (9-7, 4-0), for the top spot in the standings.
New Mexico (9-7) outlasted Air Force (12-5, 2-1) to improve to 3-1 in Mountain West play. Lauren Twitty led with 18 kills and the Lobos out-blocked Air Force 19 to 12.
American (8-9, 3-0) won a five-setter over Navy (11-6, 3-1) to gain control of the top spot in the Patriot League standings. Helena Elbaek had 20 kills and libero Kristen Largay posted 22 digs.