Utah back in NCAA volleyball action at Boise; Sunday winners include Pepperdine, Texas, Wisconsin, Rice, UNC

Pepperdine's Rachel Ahrens attacks against Cal Poly/Jeff Golden photo

Now that the third weekend of NCAA Division I women’ volleyball has wrapped up, we will recap the 16 matches from Sunday, but first a look at the next few days.

There is only one match on the Monday schedule, but by all accounts it should be a good one when the Pac-12’s Utah visits Boise State of the Mountain West. 

Utah (7-0) is coming off its stunning reverse-sweep victory Saturday at Nebraska, while Boise State is 8-1 and coming off a 3-0 weekend at the Sacramento Invitational.

The match will be shown on the Mountain West Digitial Network.

This is a big week for in-state and regional matchups. 

Tuesday, the 26-match schedule includes Kansas State at Missouri, St. John’s at Stony Brook, Belmont at Lipscomb, and San Diego State at Long Beach State. The match of the day, however, is the Big Ten’s Nebraska at the Pac-12’s Stanford. That one is on the Pac-12 Network.

There are 12 more matches Wednesday, including the Blue Grass battle between the ACC’s Louisville and the SEC’s Kentucky. Louisville (8-0) is coming off a weekend in which it swept Purdue and Xavier. Kentucky, the defending NCAA champion, is 6-2 and has taken on the program’s toughest preseason schedule yet, and that continues when Stanford visits Lexington  on Sunday before the Wildcats start SEC play.

Also on the Wednesday NCAA slate, Florida goes to Florida State, Georgia State is at Clemson, Iowa State goes to Northern Iowa, and Saint Mary’s is at Cal. Friday, Texas is at Texas A&M.

We invite you to come back later Monday to VolleyballMag.com for our video get-together with Salima Rockwell, Jenny Hazelwood, Emily Ehman, and this week’s guest, Pac-12 analyst Nicole Rigoni, as we break down the weekend past, look ahead, and have more fun than any NCAA volleyball discussion around.

AHRENS POWERS PEPPERDINE — Rachel Ahrens, a VolleyballMag.com fourth-team All-American last spring, continues to sparkle for the Waves as Pepperdine beat visiting Cal Poly 15-25, 25-8, 25-13, 17-25, 16-14. The 6-foot-4 senior outside from Trabuco Canyon, California,  had 21 kills, an assist, three aces, three blocks, and eight digs. Ahrens has 149 kills this season, 4.52/set. Pepperdine sophomore middle Meg Brown had 17 kills and hit .500 to go with three digs, an ace and three blocks; and freshman Grace Chillingworth had 17 kills, hit .316, and had six digs and three blocks, two solo. The fifth set was tied at 14 when Pepperdine got kills from Ahrens and Chillingworth. Setter Isabel Zwlaya had three kills in eight errorless tries, 53 assists, and 14 digs.

Jamie Stivers, a senior from Coppell, Texas (the same hometown as USA Olympian Chiaka Ogbogu), had 17 kills and hit .357 for Cal Poly (2-7).

Pepperdine (7-1) lost only to Washington this past Friday when Ahrens had 27 kills. Among the Waves’ victories this season are wins over Morehead State, Georgia, and Kansas State. 

SCRAPPY IRISH BATTLE TEXAS — Top-ranked Texas ultimately won 25-16, 20-25, 25-17, 29-27, but Notre Dame certainly looked tougher than a 3-5 team.

Texas, which hit .344, got 18 kills from VBM honorable-mention All-American Skylar Fields, 15 from VBM first-teamer Logan Eggleston, and 12 from VBM first-teamer Brionne Butler. Fields hit .368, Eggleston, whose second of two aces ended the match, hit .448, and Butler hit .556 and had six blocks. Molly Phillips had four kills in 15 errorless attempts and seven blocks. 

VBM honorable-mention All-American Charley Niego led Notre Dame, which hit .191, with 17 kills and she had an ace, an assist, and 12 digs. Zoe Nunez, another VBM HM, had four kills in five tries without an error, 36 assists, an ace, a block, and seven digs. 

RICE ROLLS — Rice, which swept Sam Houston, is 4-3, and that’s been a tough 4-3. The Owls lost to Pittsburgh in five to open the season, fell in four to South Carolina, and lost in four to Oregon, but since then have beaten SMU in four, swept Houston Baptist and LSU, and then beat Sam Houston 25-21, 28-26, 25-17.

The Owls hit .384 as VBM second-team All-American Nicole Lennon continues to lead the way. She had 26 kills, hit .451 after having only three errors in 51 attacks, and had two blocks, and 11 digs. Sam Houston is 6-3.

Rice goes to Baylor Thursday.

CAROLINA TOPS MICHIGAN — North Carolina improved to 8-0 after rebounding from a 25-12 loss in the first set at Michigan (4-2) to win 25-21, 19-25, 25-23, 15-9.

Nia Robinson, a graduate-student transfer from Northwestern, and freshman Mabrey Shaffmaster, the younger sister of Minnesota setter Melanie Shaffmaster, had 16 kills apiece for Carolina. 

Paige Jones had 17 kills for Michigan (4-2), and Jess Mruzik had 16, 14 digs, and three blocks, one solo. 

WISCONSIN SWEEPS — Second-ranked Wisconsin (6-0) overpowered Marquette (6-2) 25-15, 25-18, 25-18. Jade Demps led with 14 kills, a block, and a dig. Six other Badgers had three or more kills, eight by VBM first-teamer Dana Rettke, who hit .500 and had two blocks and a dig. VBM first-teamer Sydney Hilley had four kills in six attempts, 35 assists, an ace, two blocks, and nine digs.

Wisconsin, making the short trip to Milwaukee, hit .297, but Marquette hit .079. Taylor Wolf led with seven kills, 10 assists, an ace, two blocks, and six digs. 

ALSO SUNDAY — UNC Greensboro improved to 9-1 with its eighth win in a row, sweeps Sunday over Marist and George Mason. Against Marist, UNCG hit .298 and Brittany Wood led with nine kills and Kayla White had seven. White came back with 18 kills against Mason as she hit .359 and had two aces, two blocks, and five digs … 

Georgia Tech (7-1) beat visiting Oklahoma (4-5) in four. VBM HM Julia Bergmann led with 22 kills, 13 digs, and three blocks, one solo, and the other Brazilian, VBM third-teamer Mariana Brambilla, had 10, 13 digs, and a block. Megan Wilson had 18 kills for OU … 

Auburn is 6-0 after its five-set win over visiting Santa Clara (3-5). Rebekah Rath had 24 kills for Auburn and hit .339 to go with an assist, an ace, 10 digs, and three blocks, one solo. Julia Sangiacomo led SC with 25 kills, two aces, and 18 digs … 

Another SEC team, Tennessee, continued its strong start, improving to 6-1 with a sweep of Morehead State (3-5). The Vols got 16 kills from Morgahn Fingall, who hit .538 and had four digs and three blocks … 

And Boston College improved to 10-1 with its sweep of Rhode Island. The Eagles, who hit .323, got 14 kills from Clare Naughton, who hit .345 and had two assists, five digs, and a block.

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