NCAA volleyball: Princeton men upset UCLA, Virginia Tech hires Byers

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Marci Byers is the new coach at Virginia Tech/Radford photo

Princeton finally broke through against a West Coast team this men’s NCAA volleyball season.

The Tigers of the EIVA, tied for 13th in the AVCA Poll, upset No. 8 UCLA on Thursday night, beating the MPSF team in four. 

It was one of just two matches Thursday, as the Big West’s UC Irvine, ranked No. 5, beat the MPSF’s Concordia, the other team tied for No. 13, in four in the other.

Also, a few NCAA women’s programs filled their head-coaching openings, including Marci Byers leaving Radford for Virginia Tech.

All that follows, but first a look at Friday’s men’s schedule.

The MPSF has three matches, all against Big West teams, including a big showdown in Provo as second-ranked BYU is home for No. 3 UC Santa Barbara. 

Also, USC goes to CSUN, and No. 13 Concordia is at No. 15 UC San Diego.

The MIVA and EIVA have three matches. 

Seventh-ranked Penn State is home for Ball State, Ohio State goes to St. Francis, and Loyola goes to No. 12 George Mason.

Also in the MIVA, Lewis plays Barton of Conference Carolinas at George Mason, Lindenwood is home for Tusculum, and McKendree entertains Urbana.

Other EIVA teams in action include a league-opening match when Harvard goes to Sacred Heart. Charleston plays host to Queens.

There are three Conference Carolinas matches as Limestone plays at Emmanuel, Lees-McRae is at King, and North Greenville goes to Erskine. Also, Belmont Abbey plays at Lincoln Memorial.

To watch any match that is being streamed or broadcast, go to the VolleyballMag.com TV listings.

Coaching carousel: One women’s job was filled, which in this case means one is open, since Marci Byers left Radford of the Big South to fill the opening at Virginia Tech of the ACC.

Missouri State, meanwhile, hired Steve McRoberts, who was fired at Ole Miss.

Portland — one that we missed when it happened two weeks ago — and Gardner-Webb also hired coaches.

Byers was at Radford for 12 years and won the Big South regular-season title three times and the league tournament twice. Virginia Tech — 11-20 last season, 4-14 in the ACC — has had four losing seasons in a row and has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2010. 

McRoberts, previously at Central Arkansas and Tulsa, turned the program around at Ole Miss, but last season — his sixth — the Rebels lost their last 12 matches, all in the SEC. Missouri State, once a Missouri Valley Conference power, finished 10-22 last season, 7-11 in the Valley.

Portland, the West Coast Conference school that fired Jeff Baxter on November 18, more than two months later promoted Megan Burton. She and Dylan Hamilton served as interim co-head coaches the last three matches of the season. 

Portland finished 11-18 last season, 3-15 in the WCC, including three losses by sweeps to end the season. Burton was an assistant at Nevada for five years before joining the Portland staff last season.

Gardner-Webb hired Penn assistant Christina Kremer. Kremer is a former head coach at Central Christian College of Kansas, St. Thomas University in Florida, and MidAmerica Nazarene. She inherits a team that finished 3-22 last season, 1-13 in the Big South.

There are still at least 11 openings in Division I, including USC of the Pac-12 and NC State of the ACC.

Recaps: Princeton is 3-4 and that includes a previous five-set loss to UCLA on January 6 in New Jersey, and defeats to UC Irvine, USC and UC San Diego.

But Thursday in Westwood the Tigers came away with a 19-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-23 victory as three players combined for 37 kills. George Huhmann led with 14 as he hit .407 and had two blocks and three digs. Jerod Nelsen had 13 kills and hit .550 to go with an assist, an ace and six digs. Parker Dixon had 10 kills, an assist, an ace, two blocks and four digs. Princeton hit .360 and had five aces and 19 service errors, and Greg Luck was perfect in seven swings, had two aces, three blocks and two digs. Joe Kelly had a kill in his only try, 41 assists, a block and five digs.

UCLA (4-3), which hit .361, had nine aces and 23 errors. Matthew Younggren had three of those aces, two assists, three blocks and two digs. Alex Knight led with 15 kills, hit .419, and had three assists, an ace, two blocks and five digs. Austin Matautia had 11 kills, hit .600, and had two aces, three digs and three blocks, one solo. Cole Ketrzynski had 10 kills and Mads Kyed Jensen had six kills, hit .500, and had 31 assists, a block and three digs …

UC Irvine (4-3) grinded out a 26-24, 25-20, 26-28, 25-23 victory over visiting Concordia (3-3) as Joel Schneidmiller led with 22 kills. He hit .463 and had three blocks and 13 digs. JB Kam had 17 kills, hit .333, and had two blocks and nine digs. Scott Stadick had 11 kills, hit .348, and had two digs and 10 blocks, two solo. Patrick Vorenkamp had 60 assists, his team’s only two aces — UCI had 16 serving errors — a block and nine digs. UCI hit .288.

Concordia hit .193 and had five aces and 10 errors. Raymond Barsemian led with 14 kills but hit .070. He had an ace, a block and eight digs. Jordan Hoppe had 13 kills, an assists, three aces, four block and seven digs … 

There were two matches Wednesday as Grand Canyon of the MPSF (7-2) swept Benedictine Mesa (25-19, 26-24, 25-18) and Limestone of Conference Carolinas did the same to 1-4 St. Andrews (25-17,25-18, 25-16).

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