NCAA roundup: Tough start for Kentucky as season opens with non-conference match-ups

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Khalia Lanier's USC teammates Raquel Lazaro, Victoria Garrick, Brooke Botkin, Maddison Murtagh, & Emily Baptista congratulate her after her serve causes an overpass to close out set three against Kentucky/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

The NCAA volleyball season got under way Friday with an intriguing slate of non-conference matches that ranged from No. 7 Florida winning at No. 2 Nebraska to No. 13 Creighton stunning No. 5 Kentucky but then losing to Northern Iowa. And then Kentucky lost to No. 10 USC.

Among the upsets, unranked Tennessee knocked off No. 22 Michigan State. Among individual performances, Arizona’s Kendra Dahlke had 43 kills in two matches, including 28 in a five-set win over Utah State.

ACC
Duke opened with a tough one, falling to visiting eight-ranked BYU 25-22, 25-19, 25-16. BYU’s McKenna Miller led with 14 kills and hit .448 and Heather Gneiting had 11 kills and hit .391. Duke’s Ade Owokoniran had 12 kills.

Florida State fell to No. 4 Minnesota 25-17, 25-21, 25-21. Christine Ambrose led the Seminoles with 12 kills and eight digs.

No. 20 Pittsburgh swept Butler and then beat No. 24 Cal Poly 25-15, 25-17, 25-19 at Pitt as Kayla Lund had 20 kills and Nika Markovic 15 and eight digs. Torrey Van Winden led Cal Poly with 13 kills, two blocks and eight digs. Earlier Cal Poly beat Pepperdine in four sets.

Georgia Tech won twice, beating Idaho State in four and then sweeping Winthrop. Freshman Mikaila Dowd had a big day, getting 22 kills against Idaho State and followed that up with 13 kills and 14 digs against Winthrop.

Clemson split its matches at South Carolina, losing 3-1 to East Tennessee State but sweeping Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Freshman middle Adria Oliver had 10 kills, five blocks and an ace in the victory.

Virginia Tech swept USC Upstate, while Virginia lost twice at Iowa State, falling to Ole Miss in four and Oregon State in five. Sarah Billiard totaled 33 kills in the two matches.

Also, No. 9 Wisconsin swept North Carolina, Miami beat FAU in four, Boston College swept Hartford, NC State got past VCU in five, Louisville swept Tennessee-Martin and Southern Illinois and Wake Forest was swept by Maryland.

Big 12
Kansas, down 0-2, came back to win at Arkansas 21-25, 23-25, 25-20, 27-25, 15-8. Junior Patricia Moreno led with 16 kills and Zoe Hill had 14 and seven blocks. Hailey Dirrigi led Arkansas with 18 kills.

TCU swept UAB and Green Bay as freshman elan McCall had 28 kills and senior Anna Walsh 27.

Baylor, ranked 16th, held off LSU in four before a record home crowd of 3,858 as Shelly Fanning had 15 kills in 22 swings with no errors and hit .682.

Texas Tech swept Northwestern State and North Dakota. Junior Emily Hill had 15 kills against the Demons, while junior Chandler Atwood had 12 against North Dakota.

Iowa State swept Ole Miss as Grace Lazard had 11 kills and Eleanor Holthaus and Jess Schabe had 10 kills each.

West Virginia opened with a four-set win over visiting Georgia Southern but then got swept by UConn and Oklahoma swept Xavier at NIU.

Texas, of course, beat Oregon in Nebraska.

Big Ten
Fourth-ranked Minnesota swept visiting Florida State as Stephanie Samedy had 14 kills, seven digs and three blocks and Jasmyn Martin had 14 kills. Taylor Morgan had eight kills and four blocks.

Sixth-ranked Penn State opened with a sweep of Eastern Kentucky as senior Nia Reed had 14 kills, two blocks and a dig.

Ninth-ranked Wisconsin made short work of North Carolina as Dana Rettke had 10 kills and five blocks and Grace Loberg had nine kills.

Illinois, ranked No. 12, swept UNCW as Jacqueline Quade had 15 kills and then had to go the distance to beat the home team, Colorado State, 25-16, 25-14, 18-25, 25-27, 15-11. Quade was big again, getting 22 kills in 50 swings to go with six digs and two blocks. Megan Cooney added 13 kills and three blocks and Blayke Hranicka had 11 kills and four blocks. Breana Runnels had 17 kills for Colorado State.

No. 22 Michigan State was upset by Tennessee 25-21, 20-25, 25-17, 25-23. Sophomore Alyssa Chronowski led the Spartans with 19 kills. Erica Treiber had 19 kills and four blocks for the Vols.

No. 23 Purdue swept visiting Wofford and Bowling Green. Sherridan Atkinson had 17 kills and 10 digs in the opener, while Caitlyn Newton had 12 kills against Bowling Green. Atkinson had 11 and two aces.

Ohio State beat Albany in four as sophomore Lauren Witte had 19 kills and hit .621.

Indiana won two four-setters, beating UNLV and then LIU Brooklyn. Kendall Beerman had 33 total kills.

Rutgers got off to a tough start, losing in four to Colgate before getting swept by Cal.

Maryland swept Wake Forest as Jada Gardner had 12 kills and Erika Pritchard 11.

Northwestern won twice, beating South Dakota and then New Hampshire, both in four sets. Against UNH, Danyelle Williams set her career high with 16 kills and hit .326.

And, of course, Nebraska lost to Florida.

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San Diego’s Lauren Fuller stretches out against Washington/Stephen Burns photo

Pac-12
Tenth-ranked USC opened with a 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 29-27 victory over Kentucky, giving the fifth-ranked Wildcats an 0-2 start to the season. Brooke Botkin led with 19 kills and Emily Baptista had 18 kills and two blocks and Khalia Lanier had 17 kills and two aces.

“At times the offense looked better than I had seen in practice, and then at times it looked like what I saw in practice,” first-year USC coach Brent Crouch said with a laugh. “Our areas of weakness, I knew what those were coming in, and that’s what they were tonight, too, but at times the offense hummed a little bit, and it was good to see that.”

Colorado, ranked No. 15, beat Oral Roberts in four and then swept North Florida. Alexa Smith had 15 kills against ORU and Justine Spann had 14 kills against UNF.

No. 17 Washington beat No. 14 San Diego 21-25, 28-26, 25-21, 25-22 as junior Kara Bajema had 20 kills and freshman setter Ella May Powell had 46 assists, 10 digs, three kills and two aces.

No. 19 Utah opened with a sweep of UC Irvine as Lauga Gauta had 11 kills.

Cal is off to a 2-0 start after sweeping Chicago State and Rutgers. Bailee Hulzenga led with 12 kills against Chicago State and Mima Mirkovic had 13 kills against Rutgers and Carmen Annevelink 12.

Arizona swept CSUN and then beat Utah State in five as Kendra Dahlke had 15 kills against CSUN and 28 against USU.

Arizona State is 2-0 after beating UT Arlington in four and sweeping New Mexico State. Claire Kovensky had 15 kills and 17 assists against UTA, while Ivana Jeremic, who had 12 kills and 18 digs against UTA, led with 14 kills and 10 more digs.

Oregon State had to rally to beat Virginia in five 19-25, 25-14, 16-25, 25-22, 17-15 as Maddie Goings had 17 kills and four blocks and Lindsey Schell had 16 kills and seven blocks.

Top-ranked Stanford doesn’t open until Sunday, when it plays at American in Washington, D.C.

UCLA, which was scheduled to play in Hawai’i, will instead play Gonzaga at home Saturday and Sunday.

And Oregon lost to Texas at Nebraska.

SEC
Kentucky had a tough start to the season at USC, losing to Creighton and the Trojans.

Against Creighton, Leah Edmond picked right up where she left off after her 2017 All-American season with 16 kills in 50 swings. She also had five blocks, two solo, and nine digs. Avery Skinner had 15 kills. But Jaali Winters of Creighton went off with 25 kills, four blocks — one solo — and two aces and 10 digs. Taryn Kloth added 17 kills, seven digs and two blocks.

Kentucky got 16 more kills from Edmond in the USC defeat. She added four digs and two blocks. Alli Stumler had 15 kills and 13 digs and Skinner added 14 kills. But Brooke Botkin had 19 kills and 11 digs for USC, Emily Baptista had 18 kills and Khalia Lanier 17.

Alabama got a surprising sweep over Western Kentucky.

Tennessee scored a big upset by knocking off No. 22 Michigan State 25-21, 20-25, 25-17, 25-23. It was the coaching debut of Eve Rackham and it brought out 2,301 fans as Michigan product Erica Treiber led the Vols with 19 kills and hit .432. Tessa Grubbs added 15 kills. It was the first time Tennessee beat a ranked opponent since November 2016.

Arkansas came up short against Kansas, building a two-set lead but losing 21-25, 23-25, 20-25, 27-25, 15-6. Hailey Dirrigi led Arkansas with 18 kills and Elizabeth Pamphile had nine blocks,  one solo.

Georgia opened with a 24-26, 25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 15-12 win over Coastal Carolina. T’ara Ceasar led with 21 kills, 13 digs and three blocks, two solo. Rachel Ritchie had 15 kills and Majesti Bass 12. Anett Nemeth had 18 kills for Coastal.

LSU fell in four at No. 16 Baylor. Taylor Bannister led with 11 kills.

Ole Miss beat Virginia in four at Iowa State but then got swept by the home team. Emily Stroup had 12 kills against Iowa State.

Mississippi State swept visiting Mississippi Valley State and beat Louisiana-Monroe in four, South Carolina swept Texas A&M Corpus Christi and ETSU, Auburn swept High Point, Missouri blanked Delaware State, and Texas A&M beat Ohio. Hollann Hans had 20 kills for A&M and hit .326.

And Florida knocked off Nebraska.

Also Friday, Creighton of the Big East split for the day, losing to Northern Iowa of the Missouri Valley Conference 25-23, 25-22, 25-19. Karlie Taylor had 18 kills for the Panthers.

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Kendyl Sorge of Northern Iowa pancakes a tip in the Panthers’ win over Creighton/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

“Your first match of the year, you really don’t know what to expect, and I thought that we did a good job of staying aggressive in times where I really didn’t think we would,” UNI coach Bobbi Peterson said. “We have a really young team out there in terms of people that haven’t been out on the court before, so I wasn’t sure how we would respond to that, and I think we did a good job of coming back from our mistakes.

“I thought that our defense was better than it had been in practice, so that was good to see. And then I thought we did a really good job on the pins.”

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