There are so many fabulous freshman playing NCAA volleyball this season that we can expect big-time performances from them all year.

But it’s going to take a special effort to top what No. 6 Wisconsin’s Molly Haggerty did Friday afternoon at No. 16 Texas A&M.

In the Badgers’ 25-16, 25-17, 25-22 victory, the high-jumping, big and strong Haggerty finished with a match-high 27 kills, smashing the previous three-set school record under 25-point rally scoring of 19 kills set by Elise Walch in 2010.

“It wasn’t the plan to just pump the ball to her and it wasn’t an insane number of attempts that she had,” Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield said. “It wasn’t that all. She was just very efficient. She hit with a lot of range and a lot of shots and fortunately the ball found the floor.”

Wisconsin, which goes to No. 2 Texas on Sunday and has only lost to North Carolina, improved to 7-1. A&M fell to 6-5.

Sunday’s match should be something else. Texas tweeted Friday that students will be treated to breakfast tacos for the noon match.

“I’ll try to get there early,” Sheffield cracked.

It should be raucous in Gregory Gym

“Two very different teams with different styles, what they are right now and what we are right now. They’re so physical at the pins. We’re not as physical and if you look past tonight (with Haggerty dominating) we’re pretty balanced. It should be a heck of a match.”

Texas (8-1) is coming a Wednesday-home sweep of Texas A&M, which had a tough week.

And that wasn’t unique around the country, as non-conference play comes to an end.

Among the casualties Friday, No. 4 Kansas going down at No. 14 Purdue.

Saturday there are another 231 matches on the NCAA slate, including No. 12 Stanford playing Pacific, which beat Cal on Friday; Long Beach State against San Diego State; Southern Illinois vs. Loyola Marymount and then against Dayton, with a chance for the Salukis to make a mid-major statement; an interesting matchup between Missouri State and Marquette; No. 10 San Diego playing UC Santa Barbara; No. 8 North Carolina against TCU and later SMU; Lipscomb vs. Kentucky; Colorado State against No. 18 Colorado in one of the great in-state rivalries as CSU makes the trip to the tournament in Boulder; Missouri vs. Miami; and Creighton against No. 1 Nebraska.

First, though, the match we covered in College Station, where Haggerty also tied the all-time rally-scoring UW record set in five sets by Brittney Dolgner in 2007 and 2008.

“The level of play is a lot different than club,” said Haggerty, a product of Sports Performance in Chicago and whose sister, Meghan, was a reserve on last year’s Nebraska national-championship team. “The biggest thing for me is how different the block is. Every match whoever I’m going up against a block that is a lot bigger, so I have to mix up my shots. And the speed of it is so much different.”

Perhaps, but Haggerty hit a match-high .641 with only two errors on 39 attempts. After two sets, the outside hitter from Chicago was 17 for 22 with one error.

She had more than half of UW’s kills in the match as it hit .315 (47 kills – 13 errors – 108 attempts) compared to .178 (35-17-101) for Texas A&M.

Senior setter Lauren Carlini was her usual remarkable self. The Badgers score the bulk of their points while she was serving and she didn’t even have an ace. The All-American did, however, have six blocks, 40 assists and six digs.

We caught up with her after the match to talk about beating A&M and how a possible national-team berth looms in her future:

And now, around the nation:

No. 1 Nebraska improved to 8-0 by sweeping Montana State and Gonzaga. The Huskers haven’t lost a set since falling behind to Florida in the first match of the year on August 26. Creighton takes them on in Lincoln Saturday.

No. 3 Minnesota (6-1) had to go four to beat North Dakota in its home opener. Saturday the Gophers face Toledo and Green Bay.

Previously unbeaten No. 4 Kansas (10-1) has a chance to regroup Saturday when it will take it out on Southeastern Louisiana after the loss to Purdue.

“We played a good team tonight,” Kansas coach Ray Bechard said. “They were prepared and ready. We weren’t. We competed in spurts, but we got out-dug by 22. Purdue is going to have a great season. This is a great environment to play in. Bottom line is, we have to learn from what we saw tonight.”

Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon led KU with 16 kills.

The Boilermakers (9-1), flying high after their 25-21, 24-26, 25-19, 25-14 victory.

Junior Azariah Stahl had a team-best 15 kills and a career-high 19 digs. Junior Danielle Cuttino followed with 12 kills and three blocks and redshirt freshman Blake Mohler had 11 kills on a team-best .476 hitting percentage and a team-leading six blocks.

“Once we got rolling there was nothing they could do about it,” Purdue coach Dave Shondell told his team after it bounced back from the second-set loss.

No. 5 Washington improved to 10-0 by beating Maryland and Oklahoma, 25-17, 21-25, 25-15, 25-15 in the nightcap. Maryland also beat Oklahoma in the tournament at USC.

Washington’s Courtney Schwan had a match-high 17 kills on a .424 attack percentage plus eight digs and two aces. Crissy Jones had 15 kills, hit .306, and added three aces and seven blocks. Tia Scambray had 13 kills with an ace and 14 digs.

No. 7 Florida is 9-1 after home wins over Jacksonville and Florida A&M.

No. 8 North Carolina, now 8-1 after beating Sam Houston, as mentioned has a busy day today against TCU, the home team, and SMU.

No. 9 BYU (10-1) bounced back from their Thursday-nigh loss to Utah by sweeping Cal State Northridge.

USD's Lisa Kramer rips crosscourt for the match-winner against Long Beach State/Ed Chan,
USD’s Lisa Kramer rips crosscourt for the match-winner against Long Beach State/Ed Chan,

No. 10 San Diego keeps on rolling. The Toreros beat Long Beach State 25-18, 25-18, 24-26, 25-21 to improve to 6-2 behind 22 kills from senior outside Lisa Kramer. Lauren Shad added 15 kills and hit .500. Long Beach dropped to 5-5.

UCLA, 9-1 and ranked 11th, is off this weekend.

No. 12 Stanford is 5-2 after beating Saint Mary’s and plays Pacific Saturday.

Florida State, ranked 13th, plays at LSU on Sunday as part of LSU’s volleyball reunion weekend that includes more than 100 former players, including many from the 1991 final-four team. More on that Monday.

No. 15 Hawai’i swept visiting Pepperdine on Friday and the same teams square off again Saturday.

Previously unbeaten and No. 17 Santa Clara was on a roll, but Friday lost to Boise State in four and Arizona State in five and fell to 9-2.

Colorado, ranked 18th and 6-2 after sweeping Chicago State, plays New Orleans and Colorado State on Saturday.

No. 19 Ohio State is 9-2 after rolling past Valparaiso and UNCG and plays host Ball State on Saturday.

No. 20 Penn State started slow but is feasting on non-conference foes of late, improving to 6-3 by routing Rhode Island. Two more home matches are on tap Saturday, against Howard and Clemson.

No. 21 USC, which also started slow, is now 8-3 after beating visiting Maryland. It was the 400th win at the school for coach Mick Haley, now in his 16th season. Things heat up in a big way on Wednesday when USC opens Pac-12 play at home against UCLA.

Michigan State, ranked 22nd, has quietly built a 9-1 record. Friday it swept Notre Dame and Saturday plays Maryland Eastern Shore and DePaul, very likely to be 11-1 entering Big Ten play Friday against Iowa.

And right behind the Spartans in the rankings is in-state and Big Ten rival Michigan, also 9-1 after beating Auburn on Friday with Eastern Michigan and Colgate up Saturday. Next Friday, Michigan has the unenviable task of opening league play with Nebraska.

No. 24 Oregon (7-2) has the weekend off. And No. 25 Kansas State won its eighth in row by sweeping Arkansas. The Wildcats (10-2) play Southern Miss on Saturday.

Also Friday, previously unbeaten Dayton lost in three to Loyola Marymount.


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