NCAA volleyball: DIII men’s final set, Pac-12 and Big West beach updates

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Jessica Gaffney-Cal-Bears-Berkeley-USC-Tina Graudina-Pac-12
Cal's Jessica Gaffney, left, jousts with USC's Tina Graudina/Al Sermeno, Pac-12 Conference

Defending-champion Springfield and Stevens will play for the NCAA Division III men’s volleyball title on Saturday night after winning semifinal matches Friday.

In the Pac-12, beach teams UCLA, USC and Cal plus Washington, which upset host Stanford, remain in contention going into Saturday’s final day.

And at Hawai’i, the Big West beach tournament has the host SandBows in strong position to win their third title in a row.

Springfield vs. Stevens: Their respective victories were well-earned and puts them into Saturday’s 7 p.m. NCAA title match in Kenosha, Wisc., on the campus of Carthage College. It will be streamed live on NCAA.com.

Top-ranked Springfield may have swept Vassar 27-25, 25-21, 26-24 but went overtime in two of the three sets, while Stevens Institute got past Carthage College 32-34, 25-22, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9.

Springfield (30-2) hit .304. Sean Zuvich led with 11 kills and hit .550 as he had no errors in 20 attacks. He added four digs and a block. Sergio Figueroa Velez added eight kills, like Zuvich an ace, and had five digs and a solo block.

Vassar’s season ended 23-8 as Matthew Knigge had 13 kills.

Stevens (27-4) was led by Dylan DeBoer’s 19 kills. He had nine digs, six blocks and an ace. Gabe Shankweller had 17 kills, seven digs, an ace and three blocks, one solo. And Cooper Diamond and Thomas Burrell added 11 kills each as Burrell had nine blocks.

Dominican’s season ended 26-8 despite 22 kills by Luke Spicer and 18 by Ethan Klosak, who had 11 digs and two blocks, one solo. Spicer had two aces, 10 digs and six blocks.

Stevens beat Springfield in the 2014 NCAA title match. Springfield won it all in 2012, ’13, ’14 and last year. This will be their first meeting this season.

Megan McNamara-UCLA-Bruins-Pac-12-Nicole McNamara
UCLA’s Megan McNamara-goes all out as sister Nicole looks on in their match against Stanford/Al Sermeno, Pac-12 Conference

Pac-12 beach: The title will be decided Saturday as USC, UCLA, Cal and Washington battle it out.

From the Pac-12:

City-rivals UCLA and USC meet for just the third time in the three-year history of the championship in the Saturday’s semifinal. The teams met twice in last year’s event. The Bruins cruised to a 5-0 win over the Cardinal to get to the semifinal dual, taking all five matches in straight sets.

The Trojans defeated Cal, 4-1. The teams split the No. 4 and No. 5 matches, but USC took the next three in the second round, including bouncing back to win a three-setter between Joy Dennis and Cammie Dorn versus Bryce Bark and Madison Dueck. Dennis/Dorn handily won the first set, 21-14, but relinquished a close second set, 21-18. The Trojan pair then outlasted the Cal pair, 15-13.

The biggest highlights of the day came in the final two duals of the day. In the only 3-2 decision so far in the championship, the Bears and fifth-seeded ARIZONA battled in an elimination matchup in the second-to-last dual of the day. The teams split the No. 4 and No. 5, each claiming the matches in straight sets. The Bears’ top-flight pair of Mima Mirkovic and Jessica Gaffney gave Cal a 2-1 lead, winning in straight sets, leaving it up to the twos and threes.

UA’s Hailey Devlin and Stephany Purdue fell in the first set to Bark/Dueck, 21-13, but battled back to win the next two 21-18 and 20-18 to stave off elimination and give Wildcat teammates Kacey Nady and Olivia Hallaran a chance to pull off the upset. Nady/Hallaran forced a third set at No. 2, winning by a 31-29 margin after dropping the first set to Cal’s Iya Lindahl and Alexia Inman, 21-17. But Lindahl/Inman turned up the heat in the third to claim the deciding point, 15-11.

Washington has pulled off an upset in each of the first two championships and it was due for one this year. The Huskies took down the Cardinal in a tightly-contested 4-1 decision. UW claimed the first two duals at No. 4 and No. 5. But Stanford’s Courtney Bowen and Sunny Villapando claimed the team’s first point of the dual, 21-19, 23-21. Though Washington would take the next two points at No. 2 and No. 3 pairs, the Cardinal forced a third set in each match, the No. 2 pair of Courtney Schwan and Destiny Julye eventually recording the deciding point over Stanford’s Morgan Hertz and Amelia Smith, 19-21, 21-16, 15-10.

Earlier in the day, the Wildcats eliminated eighth-seeded UTAH in the opening match, 5-0, to advance to face Cal later in the day. Sixth-seeded WASHINGTON defeated seventh-seeded ARIZONA STATE, 4-1, in the second elimination dual of the day and setting up the Huskies-Cardinal matchup.

The final four teams compete for the Pac-12 crown on Saturday. In a rematch of last year’s semifinal, USC and UCLA square off at 9 a.m. PT. The winner claims the first spot in the championship dual. Cal and Washington go head-to-head for the second time in the championship at 11 a.m. PT. The winner faces the loser of the UCLA-USC matchup.

Click here for all of Friday’s summaries.

Big West beach: Four teams remain, Hawai’i, Long Beach State, Cal Poly and CSU Bakersfield. The team title will be decided Saturday and there’s a pairs tournament on Sunday.

Things kick off at 10 a.m. Hawai’i time with top-seeded Hawai’i playing No. 2 Long Beach State, followed by Cal Poly against CSU Bakersfield. There’s an elimination match at noon with the double-elimation competition to follow.

This Big West link takes you to all of Friday’s recaps and summaries and Saturday’s and Sunday’s schedule.

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