Penn State hit .509 and won its NCAA Division I-II men’s tournament match Monday and moved into Tuesday’s quarterfinals, where the Nittany Lions face Lewis, while UC Santa Barbara plays Pepperdine.
In NCAA Division I women’s volleyball since we last wrote in this space, there are have been some coaching hires and notable transfers and/or staying-put or returning announcements from star players.
And, as we catch up on all things NCAA in this first roundup since Kentucky won the indoor titles, the NCAA beach tournament begins Thursday on the Redneck Riveria with few fans and no media.
NCAA MEN — Confererence Carolinas has yet to win an NCAA match as the league dropped to 1-21 in sets since it got it first NCAA bid in 2014. That’s because EIVA-champion Penn State, the No. 6 seed, defeated seventh-seeded Belmont Abbey 25-22, 25-13, 25-19 Monday in Columbus, Ohio.
Penn State (22-3), winning an NCAA match for the first time since 2015, had 11 aces, a record in the NCAA Tournament rally scoring era. It puts the Nittany Lions into a Tuesday match against fourth-seeded Lewis (20-2), which has won 12 in a row. The teams did not play this season, but they’ve met plenty of times before in NCAA play, most recently in the 2015 national semifinals when Lewis won.
In the other quarterfinal Tuesday, fifth-seeded Pepperdine (13-6), an at-large from the MPSF, plays Big West at-large UC Santa Barbara (15-4), the third seed. They have not met this season.
On Thursday, the Penn State-Lewis winner plays second-seeded BYU of the MPSF, while the Pepperdine-UCSB winner plays top-seeded Hawai’i of the Big West.
In its match against Belmont Abbey, Penn State had 33 kills with four errors in 57 attacks to hit .509. Cal Fisher led with 10 kills as he had one error in 16 attacks, three aces, a blocks, and two digs. Brett Wildman had nine kills with two errors in 16 attacks, four aces, a block, and three digs. Michal Kowal had seven kills in 13 errorless swings, two aces, a block, and three digs. Sam March had four kills in five errorless attacks, two aces and two blocks, one solo. Cole Bogner had 30 assists and four digs.
Belmont Abbey, which hit .185, got 10 kills and six digs from Andrew Kohut. Matteo Miselli had nine kills, hit .316, and had an assist, a solo blocks, and three digs. Brian Long had six kills, hit .300, and had two aces, a block, and a dig.
For the record, since Conference Carolinas got its first automatic bid in 2014, here are the results: In 2014, Stanford swept Erskine; in 2015, Loyola swept Pfeiffer; in 2016, Long Beach State swept Erskine; in 2017, BYU swept Barton; in 2018, Ohio State swept Barton; and in 2019 Barton took a set off Princeton in a four-set loss.
COACHING CAROUSEL — Virginia hired Florida assistant Shannon Wells.
This is an interesting hire on many fronts, not the least of which because of what Wells is inheriting. The program is coming off a 2-12 season, 0-11 in the ACC. For that matter, Virginia hasn’t had a winning season since 2015. In 2016, Virginia went 7-25, 4-16 in the ACC, and Dennis Hohenshelt was replaced with Aaron Smith. In 2017, the Cavaliers finished 7-24, 3-17; in 2018, they were 8-20, 4-14; and then in 2019 went 13-18, 5-13.
Then, this past March 18, the entire coaching staff was fired. The school had this news release:
Virginia director of athletics Carla Williams announced today (March 18) the Cavaliers’ volleyball staff, including head coach Aaron Smith, have been relieved of their duties. On March 17, Williams announced the staff had been placed on paid administrative leave during a review of a personnel matter.
As a result of these actions, UVA is cancelling the remainder of its 2020-21 season. Virginia (2-12, 0-11) had four road matches remaining on its spring schedule.
“While I am unable to comment on the details,” Williams said, “I do want to commend our student-athletes for their leadership and express my gratitude for how they have handled a very difficult situation. We will continue to support them as our program moves forward.”Virginia will immediately begin a national search to fill the head coaching position.
Wells, who played at Southern Indiana, was an assistant at Florida the past seven seasons. Before that, she’d been an assistant at Southern Indiana, Winthrop, and Ole Miss. She inherits a team that this spring had five freshmen and six sophomores …
Louisiana hired Odessa College coach Kristi Gray to replace Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot, who retired after 13 seasons.
Gray, who graduated from Texas Tech, was an assistant at Odessa from 2012-16 before taking over as head coach, where she went 125-37 in five seasons. Odessa competes in the National Junior College Athletic Association. Last season, the Wrangers finished 26-4.
The Ragin’ Cajuns were 17-7 in the 2020-21 season, 11-5 in the Sun Belt Conference …
San Francisco coach Frank Lavrisha retired after a long career that included being the coach at Regis College and the past four seasons at USF. The Dons were 8-10 this spring, all in the West Coast Conference …
Dixie State coach Robyn Felder resigned in April after nine years in the job. Dixie State went 9-8 this spring, 8-8 in the WAC …
Gardner-Webb of the Big South has no such news on its athletic website and still lists Christina Kremer as its head coach, but the school has an advertisement for a head coach on its academic website …
At CSUN, Susie Terrusa was named the interim head coach in September and is still listed that way on the roster. CSUN is a member of the Big West, which didn’t compete this spring.
South Alabama in March hired Clemson assistant Jesse Ortiz as its head coach.
PLAYERS — The NCAA transfer portal is bursting at the seams after a season in which every player gets a year of eligibility back, including players who have graduated. That means they can transfer and play for a new team right away next year.
There are so many it would be impossible to list them all, but we will start with Avery Skinner, one of the star players on Kentucky’s national-championship team. Skinner, a VolleyballMag.com first-team All-American, has said she’s transferring for graduate school but hasn’t announced where.
VolleyballMag.com fourth-teamer Kenzie Koerber has left Utah and signed with BYU.
No team bettered its roster more than Penn State, which got Adanna Rollins from Minnesota and Erika Pritchard from Maryland. Pritchard made the all-Big Ten first team and Rollins the second.
Paige Hammons, a former Florida starter relegated to being a serving specialist/DS this past year, is going to USC.
Plenty of players are returning to their teams when they could have moved on, including Utah VBM first-team All-American Dani Drews, and Wisconsin setter Sydney Hilley, also a VBM first-teamer, and libero Lauren Barnes, a VBM second-teamer.
Kayla Lund, a VBM first-teamer and Chinaza Ndee, a VBM second-teamer, are both returning to Pitt. Pitt also got a transfer in Missouri’s Leketor Member-Meneh, a former all-SEC player.
Big South player of the year Abbey Bottomley, a VBM fourth-team libero, is transferring to Creighton.
(A special thanks to vballfreak808 for keeping up with this better than anyone in a thread on volleyball.proboards.com)
BEACH — We will have a preview later this week of the NCAA Beach tournament that starts Friday in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It is formally called the National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship and includes eight teams, in order of seeds, UCLA, USC, Florida State, LSU, Loyola Marymount, Stanford, Cal Poly, and TCU.
UCLA is the two-time defending champion, but there was no championship last year. For that matter, this is the fifth championship since the NCAA took the event over from the AVCA. USC won the first two.
No tickets are available to the general public. Each team has limitations to its travel parties, and players were given an allotment of tickets.
While ESPN will be televising the event, the NCAA is banning all other media from the outdoor event on a public beach. Accordingly, we will have results on this site, but no interviews.
This is from the correspondence from the NCAA given to families of players:
Friends & Family Pods:
Each team has been allocated a minimum of 17 4-person pods (three per court and two end lines) and 12 standing room only spots. More pods and standing room only spots could become available as the tournament progresses or if teams do not use their minimum.
Each 4-person pod is $300 per day, and each standing room only wristband is $50 per day. The pods contain beach chairs for each of the four occupants. Pods must be purchased in total even if less than four people are occupying them. There will be three rows of pods situated south of each of the five championship courts and two rows of pods on the far east and west ends of those two courts. Each team will receive a minimum of three pods south of each of the five championship courts and one pod on the west and east side of the championship courts (Courts 4 & 5 Only). Pod locations will be set by seeding.
As the championship progresses and teams advance or are eliminated additional pods may become available. Please consider in each scenario how many additional pods you would like to request for Saturday and Sunday. These wristbands will be provided to you on Friday and Saturday evening at your team hotel front desk by 10 p.m.