NCAA: Red-hot USF, BYU, USD, Florida, A&M get victories; volleyball recaps, men’s news

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NCAA volleyball 2/10/2021-Jayde Harris-Portland volleyball
It was busy at the net Wednesday as Portland's Jayde Harris attacks against USD's Grace Frohling and Ella Schraeder/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

San Francisco has a four-match winning streak for the first time since 2013 after the Dons beat Pacific in the West Coast Conference on Wednesday.

The other winners Wednesday in NCAA Division I women’s volleyball were BYU and San Diego in the WCC, Florida and Texas A&M in the SEC, and Texas State in a non-conference victory.

The Big West has a men’s schedule — sort of — and Fairleigh Dickinson, which starts its program next year, has a coach.

The recaps and news follow, but first a look at Thursday’s schedule that includes two Pac-12 matches with Arizona State at Oregon State and Colorado at Washington.

Thre are three SEC matches as LSU is back at Florida, Texas A&M plays South Carolina again, and Ole Miss faces Mississippi State.

The lone West Coast Conference match has Portland back at San Diego.

The American Athletic shows East Carolina at Cincinnati, Wichita State at Tulsa, and Houston at SMU. Things are busy in the Southland, including Stephen F. Austin home for Lamar; and there’s a full slate in the Mid-American, including Bowling Green at Ball State in a battle of the respective division leaders. 

Go to the VolleyballMag.com TV and Streaming listings to get links to any match that is being broadcast.

NCAA volleyball 2/10/2021-Liz Reich-Portland volleyball
Portland’s Liz Reich hits crosscourt against USD/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

WEST COAST — San Francisco went 4-14 in conference play in 2019 and now, at 4-2, has matched that total this spring after beating visiting Pacific (1-3) 24-26, 25-22, 25-17, 25-20.

San Francisco opened the season with back-to-back losses at Pepperdine before winning back-to-back five-set matches last week against Loyola Marymount before beating Pacific in five on Tuesday.

“We’re just better now,” coach Frank Lavrisha said. “We’re going to match up better now with some teams that are younger like Pacific. 

“From a historical perspective, (the sweep) is great, but we just want to take it one match at a time and how can we help ourselves get better so when we play the more veteran teams, we can compete better.”

Marshall McKenna led USF with 15 kills, an assist, nine digs, and two blocks, one solo. Greta Cortia had nine kills, a block, and 10 digs. Valeria Alegrias Cambindo had seven kills, six blocks, and a dig. Orsula Staka added five kills, an assist, and five blocks, one solo. 

“I thought we were solid and it was great to see that our two outsides still had enough gas after a five-set match yesterday and traveling,” Lavrisha said. “So it’s a great sign to see that we’re getting into shape and they can handle it mentally as well as physically.”

Pacific, which hit .031, got 14 kills, three blocks, and 134 digs from Riley Patterson, while Alexa Edwards had 14 kills, an assist, three aces, a block, and 14 digs … 

BYU (5-0, 4-0) swept visiting Gonzaga (1-3). Kate Grimmer led with 13 kills as she hit .385 to go with two blocks and six digs. Taylen Ballard-Nixon had 12 kills, two aces, three blocks, and three digs. Kennedy Croft had 11 kills and hit .474 for Gonzaga to go with 14 digs …. 

Roxie Wiblin had 20 kills as San Diego (3-0) in the Toreros’s four-set victory over visiting Portland (1-5, 0-5). Wiblin hit .333 and added an assist, three aces, and 14 digs. Thana Fayad had 15 kills, hit .379, and added an assist, an ace, a block, and 14 digs. Grace Frohling had 11 kills, two assists, three aces, two blocks, and eight digs. Laura Madill had three kills, 49 assists, two aces, three blocks, and 13 digs, and Camryn Tastad had 19 digs and four assists. USD, which hit .352, played its third match in four days.

Mia Wesley led Portland with 12 kills, an assist, and nine digs. Jayde Harris had nine kills, an assist, two blocks, and three digs. Carey Williams had 20 digs and three assists … 

Santa Clara was scheduled to open its season at Loyola Marymount, but those matches Tuesday and Wednesday were postponed. 

SEC — Florida (9-2) battled to beat visiting LSU (3-6) 27-25, 25-15, 28-26 as both teams played for the first time in two weeks. 

T’ara Ceasar had 14 kills for Florida to go with two assists, an ace, and seven digs. Holly Carlton had 10 kills, hit .444, and added two aces, four blocks, and three digs. Lauren Forte had eight kills and five blocks, one solo. All three started their careers at other schools, Ceasar at Georgia, Carlton at North Carolina, and Forte at Cal, where she was an all-Pac-12 player in 2019. Marlie Monserez had four kills, 39 assists, an ace, four blocks, and eight digs, and Ellie McKissock had 24 digs, three assists, and two aces. 

LSU, which hit .113, got 10 kills from Taylor Bannister, who had an ace, a block, and three digs. Raigen Cianciulli had 15 digs, two assists, and two aces … 

Texas A&M (5-4) finally got to open its spring season and won at South Carolina (9-4) 25-20, 25-22, 16-25, 25-16. 

“We’ve had a lot of time. I think the time was necessary, and this whole preseason has been way more natural,” said A&M coach Bird Kuhn, whose Aggies last played in November. “I know basketball is going on and it was January, but it felt way more like a regular preseason. We had way more time to compete. The competitive chemistry in the locker room has been awesome, and everyone who played earned their spot. Our players gained a lot of confidence knowing that they earned their spots.”

A&M, which ended the fall with four losses, got 13 kills from Morgan Christon, 12 from Lauren Davis, and 10 from London Austin-Roark, who hit .471 and had three blocks and a dig. Christon had an assist, four of her team’s 12 aces, two blocks, and 10 digs. Davis had three blocks, one solo. Camille Conner had three kills, 38 assists, three aces and four digs, and Mallory Talbert had four kills, an assist, five aces, three blocks, and four digs. 

A&M hit .197, while South Carolina hit .220.

Kyla Manning had 15 kills for South Carolina a solo block and six digs. Mikayla Robinson had 11 kills and a block, and McKenzie Moorman had nine kills, four blocks, and four digs. Ellie Ruprich had seven kills, hit .375, and had four blocks and a dig. Mallory Dixon had a kill in her only try, 45 assists, five aces, and 11 digs.

TEXAS STATE WINS — The Bobcats (25-2), who won the Sun Belt in the fall, won in four at UTSA (2-4) of Conference USA. Janell Fitzgerald had 14 kills and hit .333. Caitlin Buettner had 13 kills, nine digs and a block, and Tyeranee Scott had 12 kills, hit .357, and had four digs, and two blocks. Emily DeWalt had five kills, 45 assists, eight digs and two blocks.

Kirby Smith led UTSA with 14 kills, an assist, three aces, and 12 digs. Hunter Coppola had 11 kills and two blocks, and Allison Jennings had 10 kills, three digs, and three blocks.

BIG WEST MEN — There is a schedule. Or part of one. And maybe it starts on February 21 when UC Irvine goes to Hawai’i for back-to-back matches. After that it shows UC San Diego at UC Irvine for back-to-back matches March 11-12. 

Here’s the link but it hardly seems complete and conflicts with what UC Irvine has posted.

The UCI Irvine schedule, however, is up, does not have those Hawai’i matches, and shows the opener March 11. It’s listed here and includes the Big West Championship April 22-24 at Hawai’i. 

However, if you go to the Hawai’i website, there’s nothing.

So let’s call it a work in progress.

Karl France

FDU TABS FRANCE — Fairleigh Dickinson of New Jersey, which will field a men’s volleyball program next school year, will introduce Karl France as the coach on Thursday. 

From the FDU news release: 

France brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in the rapidly-growing sport, having most recently spent a nine-year tenure at NYU. A two-time American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Assistant Coach of the Year, France helped guide the Division III Violets to a 13-3 overall record this past season as the team finished ranked No. 2 nationally.

A Brooklyn native, France arrives “on the Hackensack” with over 22 years of volleyball coaching experience. Prior to his second stint at NYU, France orchestrated a turnaround as head coach of Division I Rutgers-Newark where he spent four seasons and led the team to two division titles in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA).

France has a proven track record of leading his student-athletes to success on the court and in the classroom. The Bowling Green State University graduate’s impressive coaching accolades include coaching the 2006 AVCA National Player of the Year, the 2017 New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year, and nine NCAA All-Americans. In addition, the 2017 NYU Violets earned their conference’s team academic award.

France began his coaching career in 1998 as head coach of both the men’s and women’s volleyball programs at College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, N.Y. before embarking on his first stint as an assistant coach at NYU in 2002.

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