If it was Saturday, it was another day of twists and turns in NCAA volleyball.

Sunday there are only nine matches on the slate and the highlight should be No. 6 Washington at No. 14 Hawai’i.

But back to Saturday, where the first five teams in last week’s AVCA poll survived, but when you get to No. 7 UCLA you find a previously unbeaten team that fell victim to the one team no one should want to play in San Diego.

The Toreros celebrate their victory over UCLA/Randy Miyazaki photo
The Toreros celebrate their victory over UCLA/USD photo

San Diego senior outside hitter Lisa Kramer led the way in the 21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 25-21 with 24 kills on 44 swings, while only committing four errors to hit for .455.

USD's Lisa Kramer unloads for one of her 24 kills/Randy Miyazaki photo
USD’s Lisa Kramer unloads for one of her 24 kills/USD photo

No. 15 San Diego, No. 3 in last week’s VolleyballMag.com Mid-Major Poll, is now 5-2, beat UCLA for the first time ever and won its own tournament.

Lauren Schad had 12 kills, three digs and two blocks for USD. Setter Kristen Gengenbacher had 34 assists and 20 digs, while Hunter Jennings had 29 digs, tied for sixth most in USD single-match history. Addie Pica added match-best six blocks.

UCLA, which fell to 7-1 was led by junior Reily Buechler, who had 14 kills and 11 digs, while freshman Torrey Van Winden added a career-best 11 kills.

Starting from the top of the rankings, No. 1 Nebraska (6-0) beat New Mexico 25-22, 25-20, 25-14 to win the Lobo Classic. Andie Malloy led Nebraska with 14 kills on .385 hitting. Kadie Rolfzen added nine kills and a match-high 16 digs and was named the most valuable player of the tournament. Setter Kelly Hunter had 39 assists, seven digs, four kills and four blocks.

Amber Rolfzen had eight kills with no errors for .667 hitting and had three blocks. Mikaela Foecke had eight kills, and Briana Holman had five to go with her match-high six blocks.

No. 2 Wisconsin (6-1) bounced back nicely from being upset by North Carolina the previous day by taking it out on Louisville 25-19, 26-24, 25-20. In addition to missing starting outside hitter Lauryn Gillis, who was out all weekend, the Badgers also rested their other starting outside hitter, freshman Molly Haggerty, who slightly sprained her ankle Friday night.

“Here’s what you tell them,” Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield said of the lineup changes. “You go and you play hard. You communicate, you bounce back and you focus in at the task at hand and the next play. Volleyball is volleyball – you serve, you pass, you defend.”

Sheffield moved right-side hitter Romana Kriskova to the left side where the redshirt shared team-high honors with 10 kills. Junior Kelli Bates, starting her second straight match at outside hitter, also had 10 kills.

No. 3 Texas (7-1) defeated Wichita State in a tournament at Colorado State 25-20, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21 and the usual suspects led the way as junior Ebony Nwanebu had 20 kills, freshman Micaya White had 17 and senior Paulina Prieto Cerame finished with 11. It’s a big week at Texas, because No. 16 Texas A&M visits on Wednesday and Wisconsin comes to town Sunday. Wisconsin stops at Texas A&M on Friday.

Ainise Havili (11) sets a quick to Kansas teammate Zoe Hill/KU photo
Ainise Havili (11) sets a quick to Kansas teammate Zoe Hill/KU photo

No. 4 Kansas is having one of those heart-stopping seasons. The Jayhawks are 9-0 but it seems like every set is a nail-biter. Saturday, KU beat visiting Northern Iowa 26-24, 25-17, 25-23 as junior right-side hitter Kelsie Payne led with 25 kills and hit .487.

KU’s 9-0 start now ties for the third-best in program history.

“(Northern Iowa) is as good of ball handling team as we’ll see all season,” KU coach Ray Bechard said. “Kelsie Payne was phenomenal tonight from an attacking standpoint. I thought we had as much fun as we’ve had all year.”

Kansas goes to Purdue next weekend and the Boilermakers are riding high after a big weekend at Stanford.

No. 5 Minnesota might be playing better than anyone in the country.

A night after sweeping Louisville and allowing just 35 points in the three sets, the Gophers (4-1) beat host and previously undefeated North Carolina 25-11 and 25-12 in the first two sets, lost the third 25-22, but then put it away 25-21.

Minnesota hit .333, had 51 digs and 14.5 blocks, as UNC hit .180, had 51 kills, 47 digs and 9.5 blocks. Individually, Alexis Hart had a career-best 17 kills and hit .333, followed by Hannah Tapp with 15 (hit .417). Sarah Wilhite had a double double (10 kills, 13 digs), while Paige Tapp had nine kills for a .500 efficiency. H Tapp and Molly Lohman each had seven blocks.

“We were certainly pleased with our performance this weekend,” Minnesota coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “We had good rhythm offensively and our defense continues to improve.”

Samantha Seliger-Swenson had 53 assists and Dalianliz Rosado had a team high 15 digs. Hart and Hannah Tapp were both named to the all-tournament team.

Unbeaten and No. 6 Washington won the battle of the Huskies, beating Northern Illinois, and Sunday the Seattle Huskies (7-0) get ready for the Rainbow Wahine.

That “will be a special experience, one that I hope every player that plays in this program has an opportunity to experience,” Washington coach Keegan Cook said. “We’re looking forward to just a great match with Hawaii.”

No. 8 Florida beat Denver 25-17, 25-20, 25-11 as Rhamat Alhassan had 15 kills, hit .789 and added five blocks.The Gators play the home team, LIU Brooklyn, Sunday.

No. 9 Stanford had Saturday off after losing at home to Purdue on Friday and plays Cal Poly Sunday.

No. 10 BYU, the top-ranked team in the VolleyballMag.com poll, is flying high at 9-0 after whipping Idaho State on its home floor 25-14, 25-21, 25-14 Saturday.

“We came out really focused with energy tonight,” BYU coach Heather Olmstead said. “Everyone did their job. It was a great team win. I’m proud of the way they performed this week.”

McKenna Miller led with 10 kills and hit .389. Lyndie Haddock had 27 assists to go with five blocks and Mary Lake added 10 digs. Amy Boswell put up five blocks and Lacy Haddock collected seven kills and hit .500 clip in the win.

Beehive State neighbor Utah visits Provo on Thursday. Coach Beth Launiere’s Utes are not ranked, but improved to 7-2 this weekend with wins in Portland, Ore., over Texas State, CSU Bakersfield and Portland.

No. 11 North Carolina (6-1), which was coming off its upset of Wisconsin, came out awfully flat against Minnesota before making a match of it.

“It was time for us to learn and this got our attention,” UNC coach Joe Sagula. “I still think we’re a really good team. This Minnesota team is a final-four caliber team, they’re that good. They play fast and we had to adjust. We took two sets to adjust tonight. Two weeks ago (against Penn State) we adjusted after one set. That was the difference.

“To their credit, they played great and they served so well. They worked on the right people against us. For all the players that didn’t produce what they were used to doing, it will get their attention and it’ll come back onto the drawing board at practice.”

The young Tar Heels were led by freshman Taylor Borup, whose 17 kills came in the last three sets. Sophomore Taylor Leath added 13 kills.

No. 12 Ohio State (7-2) survived a five-scare from Wisconsin Green Bay 21-25, 26-24, 25-15, 14-25, 15-11. Taylor Sandbothe led the Buckeyes with 20 kills.

No. 13 Florida State (7-1) beat Florida A&M and Little Rock to win its home tournament. Against Little Rock, senior outside hitter Katie Horton had 13 kills while Brianne Burkert had 37 assists and 12 digs. Wednesday is the big one in the Sunshine State when Florida visits Tallahassee.

No. 14 Hawai’i beat Northern Illinois, but the big one is Sunday when the Rainbow Wahine (5-3) take on Washington.

No. 16 Texas A&M cruised through the UTEP tournament and finished up by beating the home team 25-16, 26-24, 25-15 to improve to 6-3. This is a big week ahead for the Aggies as they go to Texas on Wednesday and entertain Wisconsin on Friday. The Texas match is the first time the schools have played since A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC in 2011.

“The upcoming week maybe one of the toughest weeks of all my career, to play two top-five teams,” A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. “They are definitely two of the best teams in the country. How exciting. I love playing those kinds of matches. I think it’s the way you get better. It’s the way you learn to compete harder. It’s figuring out how to win. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

“I’m sure the atmosphere for both matches is just going to be one of the best. I think they are marquee matches for the week for the country and women’s collegiate volleyball, so it’s going to be fun to be a part of that.”

Penn State, as you would have expected, got its record into the positive in a tournament at Syracuse as the No. 17 Nittany Lions blew out the home team Saturday 25-22, 25-17, 25-12. The three victories puts Penn State at 5-3.

Junior Simone Lee led the Nittany Lions with a match-high 18 kills for her sixth consecutive double-figure kill performance. Junior Heidi Thelen had 10 kills on .562 hitting, and two blocks.

No. 18 Colorado, which was coming off a loss to San Diego, took it out on UC Irvine 25-15, 25-22, 25-11 to improve to 5-2.

No. 19 Santa Clara, which we wrote about before the weekend, continued to roll as it beat West Virginia of the Big 12 and Cal of the Pac-12. Santa Clara is now 9-0, best start in school history.

The Broncos beat West Virginia 16-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-21 and then Cal 16-25, 25-19, 25-13, 29-27. The previous best start for a Santa Clara team was in 2005 when it went 7-0 and made to the national semifinals.

Nikki Hess led the Broncos with 34 kills and six aces over three matches. She added 35 digs — second only to libero Taylor Laugero. Hailey Lindberg hit a team-high .403 with 31 kills and 10 total blocks. Taylor Odom had eight kills and led the Broncos with 15 blocks (three solo, 12 assists).

No. 20 Purdue (7-1) had a great weekend on The Farm, beating host Stanford on Friday and then Saturday took care of Cal Poly as Danielle Cutino led with 21 kills and hit .447.

Senior Faye Adelaja added 14 kills and a match-best seven blocks, while sophomore Sherridan Atkinson had a season-high 12 kills and three stuffs. Junior Azariah Stahl had nine kills to go with 12 digs, three blocks and an ace.

Illinois, No. 21 and riding the early season roller coaster, improved to xx with a 25-11, 25-18, 25-18 win over St. Mary’s at Oregon.

Senior middle blocker Katie Stadick had a match-high 11 kills on 15 swings and just on error for a .667 hitting percentage as well as six block assists. Classmate Michelle Strizak added 10 kills. Illinois (4-4) lost to Oregon and beat Belmont on its trip to Eugene.

Jenna Potts of Pittsburgh hits against Michigan/Pittsburgh photo
Jenna Potts of Pittsburgh hits against Michigan/Pittsburgh photo

Just Saturday in this space we were singing the praises of unbeaten Michigan.

Too soon.

The Wolverines (8-1) lost to the home team, Pittsburgh, 25-22, 23-25, 8-26, 20-25, 15-12, despite getting career bests from three players.

Sophomore libero Jenna Lerg tallied a career-high 39 digs, which ties for third most in Michigan history. Sophomore Carly Skjodt (15 kills) and freshman MacKenzi Welsh (53 assists) also recorded career-high numbers.

Pitt improved to 7-2 as Stephanie Williams had 21 kills and 13 digs. Jenna Potts had nine blocks and six kills. She became the school’s all-time leader in block assists with 414.

“This was probably one of the biggest wins in program history,” Pittsubugh coach Dan Fisher said. “This is a great moment for these girls. I am super proud of how we competed and I think this team is growing and is fun to watch.”

Western Kentucky (9-2) is No. 23 and might still hang onto a spot in the rankings after losing a home match to Michigan State 7-29, 25-21, 25-19, 21-25, 15-11. WKU is No. 5 in the VBM poll.

Michigan State, rather, is now 8-1 and might get into the AVCA poll.

Alyssa Cavanaugh led WKU with 22 kills and hit .400, Taylor Dellinger and Rachel Anderson had 10 kills each.

Autumn Bailey led the Spartans with 14 kills and Alyssa Garvelink added 13.

“I was really proud of the way our team responded to adversity tonight, as well as earlier today. Matches like this make you better,” MSU coach Cathy George said,  “however, I’m also very pleased that we’re taking away a very hard-fought win.

“We had our backs up the wall a few times, and our players found a way to battle back and fight their way out of situations. We saw players step up and deliver when we really needed them to. It’s a great way to head into our final week of pre-Big Ten play.”

Things are better for No. 24 USC, which was once 0-3 but after winning three times at Rice, including beating the home team Saturday night 25-18, 21-25, 25-12, 25-23, the Women of Troy are 6-3. Elise Ruddins led USC with 12 kills and hit .688 to go with a career-high nine blocks (one solo), three digs and an ace. Khalia Lanier added 17 kills and three blocks.

And the last team in the rankings, No. 25 Loyola Marymount, beat Duke 25-21, 26-24, 25-18 to improve to 6-3.

Worth noting

Dayton, No. 6 in the VBM poll, is 10-0 after sweeping through the Evansville tournament. It’s the program’s best start since 2009.

Tulane won back-to-back matches for the first time since 2013 and improved to 6-3 by beating East Tennessee State on Saturday, a day after beating North Dakota and surprising Clemson.

Lipscomb, the No. 19 team in the VBM poll, won its home tournament by beating three power-five conference teams, Ole Miss, Northwestern and Virginia Tech. Earlier this season, the Bison (7-2) beat Miami of the ACC and took Texas to four sets.

Ole Miss, by the way, is 9-1.

Finally, Connecticut is 7-1 after beating St. Francis to win its own tournament.


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