NCAA volleyball: No. 1 Stanford plays at No. 4 Penn State, Colo St. upsets CU

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Colorado State's Katie Oleksak tries to save an overpass as Paulina Hougaard-Jensen gets ready to attack/CSU photo

What a weekend on tap for NCAA Division I women’s volleyball.

Before that, consider that there was yet another upset on Thursday, as Colorado State beat No. 19 Colorado, and also that No. 5 Baylor, No. 13 BYU and No. 18 Hawai’i also won.

But back to the big weekend, the third of the young season.

It starts at Penn State for the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge, where Friday No. 1 Stanford plays the No. 4 Nittany Lions after No. 8 Minnesota plays No. 10 Oregon.

It is the highest-seeded regular-season foursome for a weekend tournament in four years (Thanks to the AVCA’s David Portney for digging up that on September 4-5, 2015, at Texas, the foursome included No. 3 Texas, Nebraska and Florida tied for No. 4, and Oregon No. 11).

Nonetheless, this is pretty stout stuff.

Stanford, of course, is the defending NCAA champion and stands 4-0 after an exciting five-set win over visiting No. 3 Texas this past Sunday. Penn State is 5-0 and — while it hasn’t played the competition the other three have — hasn’t lost a set. That match is at 9 p.m. Eastern and the Big Ten Network broadcast includes former Penn State great and assistant coach Salima Rockwell doing the analysis.

Minnesota is 2-2 and the perennial Big Ten and national powerhouse has had a strange start to the season. The Gophers beat North Carolina, got upset by then-unranked Florida State, got swept at Texas in a match where the score line alone — 25-22, 29-27, 35-33 — can tell you it was something else, and then swept then-No. 7 Florida. And Oregon is coming off a four-set loss at No. 6 Pittsburgh, quite a way to start this trip. The Ducks beat UC Irvine and Boston College to open the season, but then didn’t play for 11 days. All-American right side Willow Johnson left the Pittsburgh match late due to an apparOregon’s ent injury. The 6 p.m. Eastern first serve is also on the Big Ten Network.

The Friday national schedule is loaded, but highlights of the Big Ten include No. 2 Nebraska home for High Point and then Friday night the Huskers play perennial Summit League power Denver. Ninth-ranked Wisconsin is at Clemson and plays South Carolina, No. 14 Illinois goes to Illinois State, No. 23 Purdue plays No. 25 Louisivlle, and No. 24 Michigan is home for Navy.

The Pac-12 has a busy Friday, including the Colorado teams trading locations, this time heading to nearby Boulder. No. 16 Utah is at Pepperdine, where Pittsburgh plays Cal Poly. No. 12 Washington plays Drake, and No. 20 USC faces Yale.

The Big 12 slate includes Texas playing No. 13 BYU at Wichita State. The league’s other ranked team, No. 5 Baylor, plays host to Tennessee on Saturday.

All three ranked SEC teams are in action, including No. 11 Florida playing South Florida and James Madison, No. 15 Kentucky playing Cleveland State and FGCU, and No. 21 Missouri playing host to Austin Peay and Northern Iowa.

No. 17 Creighton plays in-city rival Omaha, while Hawai’i plays Utah Valley.

Click here for the complete NCAA results from Thursday and Friday’s schedule.

Top 25: Start with the upset, where Colorado State (6-1) of the Mountain West not only dealt visiting Colorado of the Pac-12 (5-1) its first loss 25-12, 25-12, 25-12, but completely overpowered the Buffs.

Colorado State, which hit .341, got 14 kills from Breanna Runnels. She hit .520 and had three digs. Jessica Jackson had nine kills and .428 and Kirstie Hillyer had seven kills, hit .500, and had two blocks, one solo. Setter Katie Oleksak had a kill, 32 assists, three blocks and seven digs.

“We’ve got kids that are really bringing it,” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. “The end of the game, they started passing better. I don’t think our pressure went down, I think they just improved as passers. We’ve been doing that. We were doing that at TCU, driving the ball, and it was just messing with these guys.”

Colorado hit .000. Justine Spann and Sterling Parker led with five kills each.

“That’s a really good team in a hostile environment, obviously very excited to play us,” CU coach Jesse Mahoney said. “I thought we did a lot of things poorly, we couldn’t serve, pass, defend, block, attack, at the level we have been all season, especially serving and passing.

“We were hoping we found a point where we would be able to response and regroup a little bit. I think we found that in part of set three. Hopefully when we get them on our home floor we are a little more comfortable and play with more discipline.”

They get a chance to bounce back on Friday night.

“We will go and watch film and see if there are adjustments to be made,” Mahoney said. “I don’t really think our game plan will change a whole lot, we didn’t get a chance to implement it because we served and passed so poorly. Those aren’t adjustments, those are fundamentals of volleyball.”

Fifth-ranked Baylor improved to 6-0 for the first time since 2009 with its 25-16, 25-23, 23-25, 25-18 win over visiting Houston. Yossiana Pressley again led the way, this time with 24 more kills as she hit .353 and had 11 digs and a block. Abbie Jackson had 18 kills for Houston (5-5) …

BYU (6-1) won at Wichita State 23-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-20. McKenna Miller had 17 kills and hit .342 to go with four digs and four blocks, and Kennedy Eschenberg and Madelyn Robinson had 13 kills each. Eschenberg hit .476 and had five blocks, and Robinson had five digs and two blocks. Heather Gneiting added 11 kills, four digs and seven blocks, one solo.

“Our first road match was a tough battle just like we thought it would be,” BYU coach Heather Olmstead said. “I liked the way we kept our focus after the first set and kept grinding. McKenna, Heather and Kennedy took some big time swings at crucial times.”

Hawai’i (7-0) beat West Virginia (4-3) 18-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-12 as freshman Amber Igiede, who hit .458, and senior-transfer Brooke Van Sickle, who hit .414 had career-high 14 kills each. Igiede had six blocks, one solo, and Van Sickle had 11 digs and two aces …

Around the nation: Michigan State improved to 5-1 with a sweep of Oakland (4-4). Meredith Norris had 11 kills, nine digs, and hit .310 with two aces …

UCLA (4-2) swept Utah Valley (2-6) in Hawai’i as Mac May had 16 kills, a block and 13 digs, and Savvy Simo had 15 kills while hitting .429 and getting a block and 11 digs …

Three SEC schools won as South Carolina beat Clemson in five, Texas A&M held off Texas State in four, and Alabama swept UAB. Mikayla Shields had 22 kills for South Carolina and hit .475 to go with a block, seven digs and five aces …

Missouri State (3-5) beat visiting Kansas State (4-3) 18-25, 25-23, 13-25, 25-17, 16-14. Chloe Rear had a huge match with 18 kills while hitting .417 to go with 15 assists, four aces, 10 digs and four blocks. Sara Worsley-Gilbert added 15 kills. Gloria Mutiri had 18 kills, hit .429, and had three blocks and seven digs for K-State.

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