NCAA roundup: Penn State beats No. 1 Minnesota, Stanford’s Hodson out for the year

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Penn State celebrates match point against Minnesota/Mark Selder photo

Just the Big Ten being the Big Ten.

Saturday, Ohio State went to Lincoln and knocked off previously unbeaten Nebraska.

That allowed Minnesota to move up a notch in the AVCA poll to No. 1. That didn’t last long, because the Gophers in turn went to No. 15 Penn State and left on the short end of a 29-27, 21-25, 23-25, 25-14, 15-10 five-setter.

There was sad news out of Palo Alto on Wednesday when Stanford announced that sophomore Hayley Hodson will miss the remainder of the season.

We’ll get to that and the rest of Wednesday’s action, but first here’s what’s on tap for Thursday.

There is one match in the ACC, with Louisville at Boston College. Friday’s full schedule includes No. 16 Florida State at No. 9 North Carolina.

The Big Ten has the night off, but the slate is chock full Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Pac-12, Big 12 and SEC have Thursday off.

Also Thursday, all four non-power-five conference teams that are ranked are in action:

No. 5 San Diego plays host to Pacific, No. 12 Hawai’i is at CSUN, No. 13 BYU entertains St. Mary’s and No. 25 Western Kentucky goes to Southern Miss.

We picked a good time this week to do our video chat with Penn State junior middle Haleigh Washington. Her team came up big Wednesday night in a packed Rec Hall.

Junior Simone Lee was a one-person wrecking crew for Penn State. She had a career-high 30 kills — including the match-ender — hit .333 and helped the Nittany Lions win for the 11th time in a row.

Simone Lee of Penn State attacks against Minnesota's Paige Tapp/Mark Selder photo
Simone Lee of Penn State attacks against Minnesota’s Paige Tapp/Mark Selder photo

It left Penn State 13-5 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten, while Minnesota fell to 12-2, 4-1.

Lee’s effort marked the first time since 2007 that a Penn State player had 30 kills and also set the school mark for most kills in a five-set match in the rally-scoring era. What’s more, Lee also had six digs and two blocks.

“It was exciting, that’s for sure,” Lee said. “I had a lot of one-on-one opportunities.”

Junior Heidi Thelen and Washington had 14 kills each. Theilen had five blocks and Washington three and Washington had no errors in 20 swings. And another junior, Ali Frantti, had a big night with 13 kills, 13 digs, two blocks and two assists.

Sarah Wilhite led Minnesota with 16 kills and 16 digs and Hannah Tapp and Alexis Hart had 13 kills apiece. Molly Lohman had 10 kills while hitting .450 and had eight blocks.

“Minnesota’s really good,” Penn State coach Russ Rose said. “They won the Big Ten last year and went to the final four. They’ve got terrific players and a terrific staff. We’re pleased and we’re not shooting our mouths off.”

No. 2 Wisconsin absolutely steamrolled hapless Rutgers, winning in New Brunswick 25-6, 25-11, 25-11. The Badgers, who got 10 kills from Haleigh Nelson, who hit .733, improved to 13-1, 5-0. Rutgers is 4-14, 0-5.

Also in the Big Ten, No. 24 Illinois won at Northwestern 25-18, 25-13, 25-18 to improve to 11-5, 4-1, while Northwestern, 7-10, dropped to 0-5 in the league.

Senior Katie Stadick, whose younger brother is featured in the VBM men’s NCAA recruiting rankings, led a balanced Illini attack with 10 kills on 15 swings and only one error for a .600 hitting percentage, while sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter registered her first double-double of the season and the ninth of her career with 33 assists and 10 digs. She also added three kills on five attacks for a .400 hitting percentage and three blocks.

There was sobering news in the Pac-12 when Stanford released the following statement:

Sophomore All-American Hayley Hodson will miss the remainder of the 2016 season. She will be taking a medical leave of absence from the university.
 
“The health and safety of our student-athletes is Stanford’s number one priority, and we support Hayley in her decision to focus on her full recovery and return to competition at full strength next season,” said head coach John Dunning.

That was the entire statement.

Hodson, who averaged 2.26 kills in the 27 sets in which she played this season, is a 6-3 outside from Newport Beach. We interviewed Hodson last spring about this season that had so much promise. Hodson last season was the Volleyball magazine (now VolleyballMag.com) and AVCA freshman of the year when she averaged 3.82 kills, 2.42 digs and 0.34 aces per set.

No. 7 Stanford is currently 9-3, 3-1 in the Pac-12, and plays host to No. 19 Colorado on Friday.

In the Big 12, No. 6 Kansas won at Iowa State 23-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-19 behind a season-high 15.5 blocks. It is the most blocks by Kansas since 20.5 against Oklahoma almost two years ago.

The Jayhawks, 14-2, 3-1 Big 12, got 18 kills from Kelsie Payne, who had a monster night with eight blocks and 16 digs.

“I was happy with the fact that we didn’t play offensively at all, but we found a way to win,” Kansas coach Ray Bechard said. “Our blocking stepped-up – you look at Zoe (Hill) with seven, (Kelsie) Payne with eight, (Tayler) Soucie with nine. That was huge. We served as well as we have all season – three aces and just six errors. We dug well.”

Also in the Big 12, Baylor swept visiting TCU and Kansas State did the same at Texas Tech.

Baylor improved to 15-5, 3-1 with the 25-19, 25-20, 25-19 victory as Katie Steiger continued to stay hot as the junior outside had 23 kills, hit .46 and also had 12 digs. TCU is 10-5, 3-2.

K-State won 25-18, 25-19, 25-20 to improve to 13-4, 2-2 and drop the home team to 10-9, 0-4. Bryna Vogel led with 12 kills and hit .478.

No. 22 USC won the 1,000th match in school history by beating Arizona 25-15, 25-18, 25-27, 25-20. The road victory left the Women of Troy 11-5 overall, 3-2 in the Pac-12, while ASU fell to 7-10, 0-5. USC is now the 17th program to win 1,000 or more.

USC was led by freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier who had a career-high 22 kills and added 11 digs. Lanier also had a service ace and a block. Junior opposite hitter Niki Withers had 12 kills and hit .474 and sophomore outside hitter Alyse Ford also had 12 kills and hit .435 while adding six digs and two blocks.

LSU came up with its biggest victory in a long time, coming back from 0-2 to win at Ole Miss 12-25, 18-25, 25-19, 25-18, 15-3. The Tigers won in the SEC for the first time to improve to 6-10, 1-4, while Ole Miss fell to 12-5, 1-3.

“I am proud of our fight and our resiliency after we backed ourselves into a corner,” veteran LSU coach Fran Flory said. “We recovered and found a way to succeed … Hopefully this will allow us to gain a bit of confidence and trust moving forward.”

Visiting Texas A&M completed its first sweep in the all-time series against Arkansas with a 25-22, 25-11, 25-15 victory.

Aggie senior middle blocker Jazzmin Babers had the match-winning kill, giving her 10 for the match and 1,003 for her career. Babers also had four blocks to give her 485 for her career, moving her into fourth place in the Texas A&M career records.

Texas A&M is 9-6, 3-1 in the SEC. Arkansas dropped to 3-13, 1-3.

And Tennessee went to Troy and came away with a sweep 25-21, 25-23, 25-19.

There was one match in the ACC, where Georgia Tech went to Clemson and swept the Tigers 25-7, 25-23, 25-15.

Also:

Fairfield won for the ninth time in a row and improved to 15-5, 8-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with a 25-17, 25-22, 19-25, 25-18 victory at Siena. Junior outside hitters led the Stags: Skyler Day had a match-high 16 kills, 11 digs and two blocks and Megan Theiller had 14 kills, 13 digs, three blocks and three aces.

New Mexico State (14-4) won its eighth in a row by sweeping UTEP 26-24, 25-23, 25-15 in a non-conference match between nearby Interstate 10 rivals. Junior Jordan Abalos led with 13 kills and eight digs. Junior Sasha-Lee Thomas put up 12 kills and three blocks. Sophomore Tatyana Battle had 11 kills, six digs and a service ace.

And Long Beach State won its fifth in a row by with a win over UC Riverside 21-25, 25-11, 25-20, 25-16. The 49ers (11-7, 5-0 Big West) were led by senior Nele Barber’s 15 kills and a season-best 20 digs.

Ashley Murray had 13 kills and hit .385, while also recording a team-high three blocks. Anete Brinke also had 13 kills and YiZhi Xue had 10. Freshman libero Hailey Harward set a career high with 23 digs, while setter Missy Owens added 12 digs to go with her 50 assists.

Long Beach  returns home Saturday for a big one with Hawai’i.

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