NCAA volleyball: Big wins for Texas St., UNT, Bowling Green, UNLV; postponements plague Big Ten

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NCAA women's men's volleyball 3/5/2021-Mackenzie Morris-Kansas State volleyball
Kansas State's Mackenzie Morris tries to get the ball over teammate Jacque Smith in their match against Texas State/ Scott D. Weave, K-State Athletics

Texas State of the Sun Belt pulled the reverse sweep and won in five at the Big 12‘s Kansas State. 

North Texas of Conference USA beat visiting Oklahoma of the Big 12 in four.

Bowling Green is 12-0 in the MAC after sweeping Central Michigan, tying the program’s best start, and UNLV swept Utah State in the Mountain West to get to 7-0, marking the program’s best conference start. 

Rachel Bontrager had 30 kills for Western Michigan in its five-set victory, Lauren Park had 28 kills in a loss for Ohio, and Sophia Rohling had 27 kills for Wichita State in a loss to Memphis.

But the B1G news of Thursday was a major COVID postponement in the Big Ten where postponements, because of how much time is left, are likely going to turn into cancelations. And there was another cancelation in the Pac-12.

Ohio State, at 12-0 and alone atop the Big Ten, was scheduled to play Friday and Saturday at Minnesota (9-1) for two highly anticipated matches. 

Per the Minnesota news release:

The volleyball matches between Minnesota and Ohio State scheduled for March 5-6, have been postponed, as mutually agreed upon by both teams due to health and safety concerns in the Minnesota program. The institutions will work with the conference to identify rescheduling options should a window become available prior to the end of the regular season.

Previously, three other B1G series scheduled for this weekend were called off: 

Unbeaten Wisconsin — which paused all team activities this past Sunday — couldn’t go to Iowa, Michigan announced Monday it couldn’t go to Rutgers, because Michigan — which hasn’t played since February 20 — is shut down, and Michigan State, which hasn’t played since February 21, couldn’t go to Northwestern.

Which leaves Purdue at Penn State, Nebraska at Illinois, and Maryland at Indiana.

In the Pac-12, Washington State’s matches at USC were canceled. USC, which hasn’t played since February 20, announced the cancellation Thursday in a news release that included: 

USC announced on Feb. 23 that it was pausing women’s volleyball team activities due to a confirmed case of COVID-19; last week’s home matches against Arizona State on Feb. 26 and 28 were canceled. The case was detected as part of USC’s routine testing and surveillance program; the individual is doing well in isolation. Close contacts have been identified and notified. 

The good news is there are five other matches still on in the Pac-12 on Friday, including Arizona State at Arizona, Washington at Oregon, Oregon State at Cal, UCLA at Colorado, and Stanford, just 1-3 and playing for the first time since February 14, at Utah.

The SEC, which has taken more than its share of COVID hits, shows Arkansas at Florida, Mississippi State at Tennesse, Alabama at Texas A&M, and LSU at Kentucky. 

The ACC is also in COVID turmoil. Florida State goes to Duke, while Notre Dame is home for NC State, and North Carolina goes to Syracuse. Virginia Tech at Louisville was cancelled so Louisville will instead play Wake Forest on Saturday. Boston College is on the shelf.

The Big 12 shows Oklahoma at TCU and Kansas taking on the aforementioned Texas State.

There are full schedules in the MAC, Mountain West, West Coast, and American Athletic, among others.

Want to watch a match? We’ve got the links in the VolleyballMag.com TV & Streaming Listings.

TOUGH NIGHT FOR BIG 12 — Texas State (27-3), which won the Sun Belt title last fall, went down 0-2 before coming back to win at the Big 12’s Kansas State (10-7) 19-25, 15-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-9. It was third time in the 2020-21 season Texas pulled off a reverse sweep, all on the road.

Caitlan Buettner led the Bobcats with 13 kills, two assists, two blocks, and 13 digs. Tyeranee Scott had 10 kills, two assists, three digs, and six blocks, one solo. Emily DeWalt had nine kills with one error in 15 attacks, 35 assists, four blocks, and 11 digs. Her team hit .177. Kayla Granado and Brooke Johnson had 15 digs each.

“That was a huge team win,” Texas State coach Dean Huiet said. “I am so proud of the fight and resilience we showed tonight. I was disappointed with how we started because I thought we were playing timid. 

“During the break, I told them we are beating ourselves with our mindsets and playing scared. Once we changed that, I knew we would battle. That is a great win against a good Kansas State team.”

Aliyah Carter was huge for K-State with 27 kills, an assist, four aces, three blocks, and five digs. Kadye Fernholz had 13 kills and hit .333 to go with two assists, four blocks, and four digs. Holly Bonde had 12 kills, two blocks, and two digs. Teana Adams-Kaonohi had a kill, 59 assists, two blocks, and 17 digs, and Mackenzie Morris had 24 digs, two assists, and two aces.

“At this point, this is a really frustrating loss for us,” Kansas State coach Susie Fritz said. “Being up two like we were, humming pretty good in games one and two. We couldn’t sustain in some ways — levels of execution and we started to get a little more high error. I thought, to Texas State’s credit, they upgraded pretty significantly in games three and five, as well. They were playing their best volleyball at the end of the match. In contrast, we were not.”

North Texas of Conference USA (6-7) beat visiting Oklahoma of the Big 12 (3-12) despite hitting .183. Rhett Robinson led with 13 kills, three aces, five blocks, and seven digs. Miranda Youmans had eight kills with one error in 15 attacks and had an assist and four blocks, one solo. Oklahoma got 21 kills from Sanaá Dotson, who had nine digs and three blocks, one solo, and Guewe Diouf had 18 kills, two aces, a block, and three digs.

“This was a big win for us,” UNT coach Andrew Palileo said. “We’ve played well against Oklahoma in the past, and even though we started out rough, there was no panic. We just need to carry this momentum heading into a big back-to-back conference games against Rice this weekend.”

MID-AMERICAN — Bowling Green (12-0) swept at Central Michigan (7-6). Katelyn Meyer led with 12 kills and hit .333 with one error in 33 attacks. She had an assist, a block, and two digs. Katie Kidwell had nine kills in 12 errorless swings, an assist, an ace, and two blocks. Savannah Thompson had 11 kills and 10 digs for CMU … 

Northern Illinois (6-7) hit a season-high .333 and swept visiting Akron (3-10). Kennedy Wallace had nine kills and hit .412 to go with an ace, three blocks, and two digs. Jasmine Kemp had seven kills in 17 errorless swings and four blocks. Akron’s Alexis Adleta had 15 kills, an assist, a block, and 12 digs … Kent State (9-3) swept visiting Miami (5-6) as Melissa Kolurbasi led a balance attack with 12 kills. She hit .423 after having one error in 26 attacks and added an assist, three aces, two blocks, and four digs. Miami’s Avarie Powell had 15 kills, hit .393, and had a block and a dig … Ball State (5-5) hit .348 and won in five at Ohio (4-3) as four players had 10 or more kills. Natalie Mitchem led with 16 as she hit .412 and had a dig and two blocks. Kia Holder had 15 kills, hit .351 and had three digs and three blocks, and Marie Plitt had 15 kills, hit .393, and added a dig and three blocks, Natalie Risi had 10 kills, an ace, 15 digs, and three blocks, one solo … Ohio’s Lauren Park had a career-high 28 kills, an ace, five digs, and a block. Caitlin O’Farrell had 15 kills, hit .407, and had a dig and four blocks, one solo … 

And Western Michigan (8-3) went down 0-2 to visiting Buffalo (1-12) before hitting .342 and coming away with a 24-26, 25-27, 25-16, 25-11, 15-6 victory. Rachel Bontrager had a career-high 30 kills while hitting .473 after making just four errors in 55 attacks. She also had an ace, two blocks, and 12 digs. Maggie King had 18 kills and hit .432 and had two blocks and two digs, and Andelyn Sinkins had 10 kills, hit .346, and had four aces, three blocks, and 11 digs. Kaley Smith had 36 assists, and setter Logan Case had three kills, 57 assists, two aces, and seven digs. Buffalo’s Milla Malik had 17 kills, an assist, two aces, five digs, and three blocks, one solo. Monika Simkova had 12 kills, hit .379, and had three aces, two blocks, and two digs, and Jenna Sonnenberg had 26 digs and two assists.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC — Cincinnati (5-3, 3-0) won in five at USF (5-4, 3-2) as Maria Mallon had 21 kiils, two assists, three aces, 24 digs, and three blocks, one solo. Madison Waters had 16 kills, a solo block, and 16 digs. Agata Plaga had 17 kills and hit .318 for USF and Marta Cvitkovic had 14 kills, five aces, 10 digs, and two blocks, one solo … 

Tulane (5-7, 3-2) won in four at SMU (5-4, 1-4) after losing the first 33-31. Lexie Douglas led the Green Wave with 22 kills as she hit .327 and had four blocks and 21 digs. Yvette Burcescu had 13 kills with one error in 30 attacks three assists, three blocks, and a dig, and Kayla Dinkins had 11 kills and nine blocks. SMU’s Jadyn Bauss had 18 kills, an ace, two blocks, and 19 digs, and Rachel Woulfe had 17 kills, four blocks, and four digs … Memphis (4-5, 3-1) lost the first two sets and came back to win in five despite hitting .098 at Wichita State (8-2, 3-2). Jada Birkel led Memphis with 14 kills as four Tigers had eight or more kills. Birkel had two blocks and five digs. Gigi Crescenzo had 12 kills, an assist, three blocks, and 14 digs. Sabrina Bianco had a kill, 50 asissts, two blocks, and 22 digs. Sophia Rohling had 27 kills for WSU and hit .328 to go with three blocks and two digs. Brylee Kelly had 14 kills, five blocks and three digs. 

BIG SOUTH — High Point (7-0) stayed atop the standings with a sweep at USC Upstate (1-6). High Point hit .385 and Annie Sullivan led with 11 kills while hitting .346. Gabrielle Idlebird had nine kills with one error in 15 attacks and she had five blocks and three digs … 

Campbell (6-1) stayed a game back when it swept visiting Charleston Southern (4-1) as Lailah Green had 13 kills and eight digs … Winthrop (4-3) swept visiting Gardner-Webb (2-7). Morgan Bossler led with 12 kills, hitting .500, and she had seven blocks … And Peyton McClinton had 19 kills as UNC Asheville (3-4) won in four at Presbyterian (2-5). McClinton had an ace, two blocks and eight digs. Molly Hackett added 15 kills and hit .419 to go with an assist, three digs, and six blocks, one solo. Presbyterian’s Erin Cooke had 18 kills, 14 assists, two blocks, and eight digs.

SOUTHLAND — Central Arkansas (7-5, 5-2) swept visiting Lamar (1-9, 1-4) as Alexis Stumbough led a balanced attack with nine kills and 14 digs … Houston Baptist (5-6, 4-1) beat visiting UIW (2-6, 2-4) in four. Reagan Leinen had 12 kills for HBU and Bethany Clapp had 12 for UIW … And Ashley Lewis has 19 kills, two aces, a block, and 13 digs as Sam Houston (5-1) beat visiting Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (6-4, 4-3) in four. Samantha Rodgers added 12 kills with one error in 22 attacks and she had three blocks. TAMUCC’s Rachel Young had 14 kills with no errors in 29 attacks to hit .483 and she had two assists, an ace, two blocks, and nine digs. 

AROUND THE NATION — In the only Mountain West match of Thursday, UNLV (7-0) swept Utah State (1-6). UNLV, which hit .308, got nine kills from Macy Smith, who had one error in 15 attacks, three blocks, and two digs, Kristy Frank had 14 kills for Utah State … 

NM State (10-0) won the only WAC match of the day when it swept Seattle U (1-7) for the second straight day. NM State won its 30th WAC match in a row. Savannah Davis had nine kills, three digs, and two blocks, one solo, and Victoria Barrett had nine kills with one error in 16 attacks, two aces, a block, and seven digs … 

Louisiana Tech (1-13) of Conference USA finally got a victory when it swept visiting Grambling of the SWAC in a match between two schools located eight miles apart. Elizabeth Sandoval had 10 kills for Louisiana Tech to go with an ace, two blocks, and four digs. Meghan Dunnigan had 26 digs and two assists.

MEN — BYU (7-2) swept its MPSF match at Concordia (1-6) as the Cougars hit .375. Zach Eschenberg led with 16 kills as he hit .432 after having one error in 32 attacks to go with three assists, an ace, and five digs. Gabi Garcia Fernandez had 12 kills, two aces, five blocks, and seven digs, and Davide Gardini had 12 kills, hit .450, and had an assist, a block, and 12 digs. Concordia’s Jordan Hoppe had six kills, three aces, and nine digs … 

And in the Big West, UC Santa Barbara (2-0) hit .378 and swept visiting UC San Diego (0-4). Keenan Sanders had 12 kills with no errors in 17 attacks to hit .7-6 and added an ace, five digs, and three blocks. Ryan Wilcox had nine kills, an assist, five aces, four digs, and two solo blocks, and Randy DeWeese had eight kills, an ace, six digs, and two blocks, one solo. UCSD’s Kyle McCauley had 15 kills, an ace, and five digs.

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