NCAA volleyball: More upsets as Indiana, Illinois, Cal Poly, UCF come up big

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NCAA volleyball 9/15/2019-Saige Ka'aha'aina-Torres-Utah volleyball
Utah setter Saige Ka'aha'aina-Torres digs a tip in a four-set loss to Pitt/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

On any normal day of non-conference college volleyball competition, unranked Indiana knocking off No. 15 Kentucky would probably lead the headlines.

But it’s not every day that the No. 1 team in the country, which has been undefeated for almost 13 months, gets beaten, as Stanford did on Saturday, falling in four sets (27-25, 27-25, 23-25, 25-20) to No. 8 Minnesota.

VolleyballMag.com editor Lee Feinswog was there to see Minnesota, led by Stephanie Samedy’s 21 kills, take down the reigning national champs, and you can read the full game story here.

Saturday’s results included three other notable upsets: UCF knocked off No. 14 Illinois, which turned around to beat No. 7 Marquette, and No. 16 Utah got bested by Cal Poly in five sets.

The recaps and notes follow, but first a look at Sunday’s schedule.

Only three top-25 teams play Sunday, with Marquette taking on Illinois State to complete its trip to Normal, Illinois; No. 24 Michigan plays host to Eastern Michigan; and Boise State faces undefeated No. 21 Missouri in Columbia.

The SEC’s Auburn will play at Texas Christian of the Big 12, Michigan State welcomes North Carolina to East Lansing, and Syracuse goes to Kansas. Rounding out Sunday’s slate of 10 matches is UNI vs. Austin Peay, High Point vs. Omaha, Wake Forest vs. Elon, and Albany vs. George Washington.

Click here for Saturday’s results and the Sunday schedule at NCAA.com. And to watch any NCAA match that is being broadcast or streamed, go to the daily VolleyballMag.com TV listings.

Indiana shocks Kentucky: Indiana coach Steve Aird refused to get too caught up in his team’s five-set defeat (16-25, 25-22, 12-25, 25-20, 15-11) of No. 15 Kentucky — in Lexington, no less.

“I’m proud of our group, but no crazy celebration, let’s put our head down and work,” the second-year Indiana head coach said. “The season is young.”

Sophomore outside hitter Breana Edwards led the match with 20 kills, but Deyshia Lofton earned the MVP award at the Bluegrass Battle tournament. Over three matches, the senior middle blocker collected 34 kills, including a career-high 19 (hitting .484) versus Cleveland State on Friday. She also contributed six block assists against Cleveland State and added six more in the Kentucky match.

Leah Meyer, a grad transfer from Duke, led Kentucky with 15 kills and just two errors on 20 swings to hit .520. Leah Edmond added 12 kills, but had eight errors for a .114 clip.

The victory was Indiana’s first over Kentucky since 1996 and first against a top-25 team since it defeated then-No. 14 Michigan on Halloween last year.

Top 25: First to the upsets, and first among those Illinois’ up and down weekend at Illinois State.

After losing to the host team in four sets Friday night, the Illini continued their four match slide, losing 1-3 to unranked UCF. In the Illinois State match, 14 players saw the floor as Illinois coach Chris Tamas searched in vain for a solution. Against UCF, however, he returned to the lineup used earlier on in the season, but even 21 kills from Jacqueline Quade and 16 from Megan Cooney couldn’t hold off the Knights.

UCF’s honorable-mention All-American McKenna Melville matched Quade’s 21 kills with just five errors on 50 swings to hit .320. As a team, UCF out-hit Illinois .221 to .185. UCF also won the battle behind the service line and at the net, tallying nine aces and nine blocks to Illinois’ four aces and four blocks.

“I thought as the game went on, our attack just got better, but they’re a quality opponent,” Tamas said in an interview with the News-Gazette. “It was a good fight, but not good enough. We’ve just got to keep learning and keep moving forward.”

Less than eight hours later, however, the Illini had a chance for redemption and they capitalized on it, getting a win over No. 7 Marquette.

Illinois hit .196 to Marquette’s .238, but an 11 to eight blocking advantage helped the Illini gain the slight advantage they needed to win in five after being down 0-2 (25-27, 12-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-11).

Quade once again led the team with 21 kills, matching Marquette leader Allie Barber’s total. Marquette’s libero Martha Konovodoff led with 24 digs.

Illinois’ Bruna Vrankovic, a 6-2 product of Split, Croatia, had a breakout Saturday, subbing in for Kennedy Collins on the right side partway through the UCF match and then playing all five sets versus Marquette. She finished the day with 18 kills—eight versus UCF and 10 in the Marquette match …

No. 16-ranked Utah had already played Cal Poly once this season heading into Saturday’s meeting at Pepperdine. On Aug. 31, Utah got the win in five, but this time, the Mustangs walked away victorious 25-19, 17-25, 18-25, 25-14, 18-16, staving off three Utah match points in the fifth set.

Junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek led the charge for Cal Poly with a match- and career-high 30 kills with just six errors to hit .414. With 13 kills, Dvoracek also marked her fourth double-double of the season, adding three blocks and two aces. Cal Poly libero Mika Dickson posted a new career high with 21 digs.

Dani Drews led Utah with 26 kills, and Berkeley Oblad has 13 kills and seven block assists. Setter Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres hit a new career high with 18 digs to go with 41 assists …

No. 2 Nebraska stayed undefeated with a 3-1 victory over Loyola Marymount. Lexi Sun went off for a career-high 23 kills, while Jazz Sweet had 14 (and just two errors to hit .387). Sun earned the Ameritas Players Challenge tournament MVP honor, contributing 14 digs against LMU for a double-double …

No. 3 Texas barely blinked in a sweep of Wichita State, holding the Shocker Volleyball Classic host to 15 points or fewer in all three sets (25-13, 25-9, 25-15). Senior Longhorn outside Micaya White was named the Most Outstanding Player after collecting 13 kills and 23 attempts with zero errors to hit .565 against Wichita State. Redshirt-freshman middle Asjia O’Neal also posted an errorless performance with seven kills, hitting .778 …

Jonni Parker had 15 kills to lead No. 4 Penn State to a sweep of No. 10 Oregon (25-21, 29-27, 25-19) to close out the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge.

“We can’t let one (loss) become two,” Parker said in an interview with Onward State referencing the Nittany Lions’ Friday night defeat to Stanford. “We could’ve let last night dictate how today went, but we didn’t. We woke up this morning and said, ‘It’s a new day, we’ve got to get better,’ and used (Friday) as a learning experience. Last night was definitely a more physical match, so today we had to make sure we were mentally sharper.”

Oregon, missing injured starters Willow Johnson and Taylor Borup, has now lost three in a row to top-10 opponents. Brooke Nuneviller, the 2018 starting libero who has been filling in for Borup, had 10 kills and 10 digs for her third double-double in a row …

Baylor swept Tennessee 25-18, 25-17, 25-16 to improve to 7-0 on the season. A record crowd of 3,878 witnessed the No. 5 Bears limit UT to a .161 hitting percentage and hold a five to three advantage in aces and nine to six advantage in blocks. Yossiana Pressley led Baylor with 12 kills and was named MVP of the Hampton Inn & Suites Waco North Baylor Invitational …

No. 6 Pitt came back from losing the first set to defeat No. 16 Utah in four (22-25, 25-23, 23-25, 21-25). Redshirt-senior outside hitter Stephanie Williams tallied a double-double for the second match in a row, recording 10 kills and 17 digs to go along with four aces, while freshman setter Lexis Akeo got her third double-double in a row with 10 digs and 51 assists. Kayla Lund and Layne Van Buskirk led the offense with 19 and 15 kills, respectively.

The Panthers also got a five-set victory over Pepperdine on Saturday to remain undefeated. Pitt’s Chinaza Ndee had 22 kills, hitting .541, but Pepperdine’s Shannon Scully led the match with 23 kills …

No. 9 Wisconsin swept Clemson 25-19, 25-16, 25-20 with freshman setter Izzy Ashburn starting on the right side in place of injured Madison Duello. Ashburn finished the match with a block and two kills, while Dana Rettke led all players with 14 and zero errors, hitting .609 …

No. 11 Florida needed five sets and extra points in the fifth to get past Long Beach State (25-27, 25-16, 25-20, 19-25, 19-17). Long Beach’s Kashauna Williams led the match with 26 kills, but Darrielle King starred for the Gators with 15 kills and no errors for a .789 hitting percentage. Florida out-blocked LBSU eight to two …

In a meeting between top-25 foes, No. 12 Washington defeated No. 17 Creighton in four (25-19, 25-17, 21-25, 25-19). Washington also got a win over Omaha on Saturday (25-15, 25-20, 19-25, 25-22). Kara Bajema was named MVP of the Bluejay Invitational after recording 16 kills versus Omaha and 16 against Creighton. The Huskies’ .325 team hitting percentage versus Creighton marked a season high …

Creighton played Drake earlier in the day, winning in four. Erica Kostelac had 15 kills and four aces in the 25-17, 25-18, 23-25, 25-9 victory …

BYU defeated VCU in four (25-8, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21) to bounce back from Friday’s loss to Texas. The No. 13-ranked Cougars benefitted from 13 kills from senior McKenna Miller …

Hawai’i remains undefeated thanks to a sweep of UCLA (25-15, 25-22, 25-23). Freshman outside hitter Hanna Hellvig had 11 kills and 12 digs for her second double-double in a row, a performance which earned her MVP of the Outrigger Hotel and Resorts Volleyball Challenge Championship …

NCAA volleyball 9/15/2019-Jenna Adams-USC volleyball
USC libero Jenna Adams plays the short free ball/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

No. 20 USC won the Trojan Invitational with sweeps of Howard and Villanova. Jasmine Gross earned tournament MVP honors. The senior middle blocker had eight kills and zero errors to hit .615 against Villanova. Versus Howard, she had 12 kills, hit .579, and added five blocks. Khalia Lanier made her return after missing four matches due to injury and had 13 kills in the Howard match and 11 against Villanova …

No. 21 Missouri swept UMKC, No. 22 Louisville swept Xavier, and No. 23 Purdue bounced back after losing the first set to defeat Lipscomb in four (23-25, 25-13, 25-20, 25-17) …

No. 25 Florida State’s defeat of St. Johns was a lot closer than the 3-0 scoreline makes it look. Sets one and three went to overtime (28-26, 25-18, 26-24), but FSU’s 15 blocks to St. John’s 5.5 made the difference …

Around the nation: NC State of the ACC squeaked out a five-set win over in-state foe Appalachian State. Melissa Evans set a career-high with 22 kills …

In front of the second-largest crowd in program history, South Dakota won a five-setter over Iowa. The reigning Summit League champion Coyotes won their first home match versus a Big Ten opponent 25-17, 15-25, 25-18, 21-25, 20-18, with freshman Elizabeth Juhnke leading all players with a career-high 26 kills …

George Mason got its first victory over Maryland since 2002, winning in five 28-26, 15-25, 25-23, 9-25, 16-14. ShaLi Niu had 17 kills and a career-high four aces. The Patriots fell to Arkansas in four later on Saturday …

Setter Kylie McLaughlin recorded her seventh-straight double-double (46 assists, 13 digs) in Oklahoma’s four-set victory over Georgia Tech. The Sooners also celebrated a sweep of Louisiana on Saturday …

A good day for Arizona schools saw the University of Arizona sweep Morehead State and Syracuse to improve to 7-2, and Arizona State rebound from a loss to Oklahoma Friday night to defeat Georgia Tech in four …

Auburn of the SEC stayed above .500 with a 3-1 win over Miami. Six-foot-four sophomore Tatum Shipes had 13 kills and 10 digs, as well as three blocks and two aces, for her third double-double of 2019. Setter Marissa Hines also got her third double-double with 37 assists and 13 digs …

Four UC Davis players had double-digit kills in a five-set victory over Wyoming. Aggie senior outside Lauren Matias led all players with 27 kills …

Freshman Julia Crawford led Cal State Fullerton to a come-from-behind win versus Prairie View A&M, tallying a career-high 27 kills and 16 digs. Setter Makenzi Abelman also set a personal best with 57 assists and 18 digs …

Nicole Nevarez posted 31 digs in Cal State Northridge’s five-set defeat of Portland State. The sophomore also matched her career high with 16 kills on 64 attacks. Her dig total ranks her fifth in program history for digs in a single match in the rally scoring era …

San Diego scored sweeps over Harvard and La Salle to close out the UCSB Invitational and rebound from Friday night’s loss to UCSB. Katie Lukes put on a clinic versus Harvard, collecting 16 kills with just one error on 19 swings to hit .789 …

With 16 kills from Makena Ehlert, the Ivy League’s Brown outlasted crosstown rival Providence College in five sets. Ehlert also collected 12 kills in the Bears’ sweep of Fairleigh Dickinson earlier in the day, and she was named MVP of the Friar Classic …

Grand Canyon of the WAC is off to an 8-1 start after beating UC Riverside and San Diego State to win its own tournament and continue the best start in school history. Melody Horton had 23 kills for the day …

Penn is 5-1 after winning twice Saturday. The Ivy League team beat Chicago State of the WAC in five and then swept St. Francis Brooklyn and is off to its best start since going 8-1 in 2009. Parker Jones had 28 kills for the day …

NCAA volleyball 9/14/2019-Tamar Wells-Howard Volleyball
Howard’s Tamar Wells puts down a quick set against Yale/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Senior Izzy Simqu’s 10 kills and three blocks led Yale to a sweep of Howard at the Trojan Invitational. Rebekah Nemeth earned a spot on the all-tournament team, averaging 3.40 kills per set over the weekend’s three matches …

UT-Arlington of the Sun Belt beat Idaho State of the Big Sky as Kylie Jedlicka and Brooke Townsend had 22 kills apiece. Jedklika had two assists, an ace, two blocks and 20 digs, while Townsend had two blocks and four digs. UTA is 6-3 after trailing 0-2 in the match …

Lauren Chastang continues to lead Kennesaw State of the ASUN, which got past South Alabama of the Sun Belt in five. She had 22 kills, hit .375, and had four aces, two blocks and 16 digs. Kelley Hartman had 19 kills and hit .485 for USA …

Anett Nemeth went off again for unbeaten Coastal Carolina (8-0) of the Sun Belt, which beat Towson of the Colonial (7-2). Nemeth had 26 kills and hit .358 to go with three aces, four blocks and nine digs. Emily Jarome had 20 kills, two assists, two aces, two blocks and 16 digs for Towson.

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