NCAA volleyball: Penn State evens score with Pitt, Baylor thumps Hawai’i

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NCAA volleyball 9/23/2019-Jonni Parker-Penn State volleyball
Penn State's Jonni Parker hits against the Pittsburgh block of Sabrina Starks, left, and Chinaza Ndee/Alex Mowrey, Pitt Athletics

What a way to finish the pre-conference season.

Fourth-ranked Penn State exacted its revenge on previously unbeaten No. 6 Pittsburgh.

No. 5 Baylor remained unbeaten as it dispatched previously unbeaten No. 13 Hawai’i,

And what a slugfest, as Melanie McHenry had 30 kills for No. 25 Louisville as it won a five-setter at Cincinnati, whose Jordan Thompson had 41 kills. 

It was a busy Sunday, with more than just than those top-25 results, including a full regular-season slate in the MAAC. 

There is only one match on the NCAA Division I volleyball schedule Monday when Mississippi Valley of the SWAC plays host to tiny Tougaloo.

By the way, the only other unbeaten team is Cal, 10-0 and idle Sunday.

Penn State bounces back: Pittsburgh of the ACC (11-1) beat Penn State of the Big Ten in State College on Friday and then drew a home-record crowd of 5,195 to its Peterson Events Center, but it wasn’t enough to stop Penn State (7-2), which came away with a 28-26, 21-25, 25-21, 20-25, 16-14 victory.

It was a tough day for the offenses. Penn State won despite hitting .112, while the Panthers, who had won 17 regular-season matches in a row, hit .153.

Jonni Parker led Penn State with 17 kills but hit .194. She had three aces, a block and eight digs. Allyson Cathey had 15 kills, hit .133, and had an ace, six digs, and four blocks, one solo. Serena Gray had 10 kills, hit .136, and had two aces, two digs and six blocks, one solo. And Kaitlyn Hord had nine kills, hit .316, and also had six blocks, one solo. Setter Gabby Blossom had 46 assists, 17 digs and five blocks, one solo.

Kayla Lund let Pittsburgh with 23 kills and hit .207. She had two assists, three blocks and 17 digs. Chinaza Ndee had 16 kills, hit .294, and had 10 blocks and two digs, and Layne Van Buskirk had 13 kills, hit .118, and had five blocks and a dig. Setter Lexis Akeo had 47 assists, three blocks and seven digs. Hali Hillegas had 24 digs.

In the fifth set, Penn State got out to a 4-0 lead and was still up 7-3 when it tightened. Pittsburgh never led, but tied it at 12. At 14-14, Cathey had a kill and it ended on a hitting error by Lund.

Yossiana Pressley reaches high for Baylor against Hawai’i /Josh Martin, Baylor Athletics

Baylor sweeps Rainbow Wahine: The Bears (9-0) can make claim to the No. 1 spot when the new AVCA Coaches Poll comes out Monday after a week in which all four teams above it — Nebraska, Stanford, Texas and Penn State — sustained defeats. Baylor of the Big 12 beat Hawai’i of the Big West (10-1) 25-19, 25-23, 25-22 as Yossiana Pressley had 19 kills and Shelly Stafford 18. 

Pressley hit .378 and had a block and four digs, while Stafford hit .600 and had four digs nad six blocks, one solo. Kara McGhee had 11 kills and hit .500, and setter Hannah Lockin had two kills with no errors in six attacks, 46 assist, Baylor’s only ace, two blocks and seven digs.

“Both teams did very well offensively. It was kind of the story of the middles a little bit. We had two middles with Shelly, they couldn’t really stop her, and Kara coming up big. They couldn’t stop her. For them, their No. 3 (Amber Igiede), we were struggling to stop her,” said McGuyre, whose team hit .387, while Hawai’i hit .264.

“I’m disappointed in our defense but excited about our offense. To get 20 kills in a set is huge. Normally 15 or 16 is going to win it for you, because you’ll get some blocks and some other stuff. But we were able to side out at a good level. 

“Hawai’i’s a great, great team. They’re dealing with an injury (to outside Jolie Rasmussen), so I expect them to keep moving up the charts. Low errors, it was just good volleyball. It was fun for the fans, a lot of crazy digs, fun digs, but I like what we’re doing offensively to have three players in double digits (kills) in three sets. That’s really good.”

Hanna Hellvig led a balanced Hawai’i offense with 12 kills and hit .379. She had an ace, two blocks and two digs. Igiede, as close to her home in Baton Rouge as she will this season, had nine kills in 12 errorless swings and hit .750. She had a block and a dig. Brooke Van Sickle had eight kills, two blocks and 10 digs. 

Louisville escapes Cincinnati: McHenry and Thompson put on an offensive show in the Cardinals’ 25-18, 27-29, 25-23, 24-26, 15-13 victory.

Louisville of the ACC (7-3) saw McHenry tie her career high in kills as she hit .444 and had an assist, two aces, four blocks — one solo — and six digs. Aiko Jones had 15 kills and hit .355 to go with two aces, four blocks and six digs. Setter Tori Dilfer had three kills in five errorless attacks, 54 assists, an ace, four digs and four blocks, one solo. 

Cincinnati of the American Athletic Conference (8-4) was led by Thompson, who spent the summer with the USA national team as it qualified for the 2020 Olympics. She attacked from all over the court, especially lethal from the back row. 

Thompson, three kills shy of her career high, hit .392, had two assists, an ace and nine digs. Maria Mallon had 13 kills and hit .321 and had two assists, two aces, and 14 digs. Damjana Cabarkapa and Adria Oliver had nine kills each. Setter Armania Heckenmueller had 60 assists and six digs.

MAAC: The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has already played the second round of the its regular season. And Fairfield and Rider sit atop the league at 2-0; Siena, Marist, Saint Peters, and Iona are all 1-1; Canisius and Niagara have yet to play; and Quinnipiac and Manhattan are 0-2. 

There were a few very strong individual performances in the MAAC on Sunday.

Rider (5-8) beat Manhattan (2-10) in four as freshman Morgan Romano had 30 kills, hit .396, and had an ace, five digs and three blocks. 

Fairfield (7-4) beat Siena (5-6) in four behind 13 kills from Mayda Garcia, who had two assist, two aces, and 11 digs. It’s the third time she’s had 20 or more kills.

Also, Marist (3-8) beat Quinnipiac (4-7) in four, and Iona (1-11) got its first win of the season by sweeping Saint Peters (3-9). Megan Fergus had 22 kills, hit .302, and had 10 digs and three blocks for Marist, while Aryanah Diaz had 20 kills and hit .383 for for Quinnipiac and also had 17 assists, three aces, nine digs, and two blocks. 

Around the nation: Michigan of the Big Ten (7-3) held off visiting Notre Dame of the ACC (7-3) 25-23, 25-15, 20-25, 25-16. Paige Jones led the Wolverines with 15 kills, two blocks and 12 digs. May Pertofsky and Sydney Wetterstrom had 11 kills each. Pertofsky had one kills in 19 attacks and hit .526 and had four assists, five blocks and a dig. Wetterstrom had an assist, an ace and 16 digs. Setter Mackenzi Welsh had four kills and hit .375, and had 45 assists, three blocks and nine digs.

Charley Niego had 15 kills for Notre Dame but hit .074 and her team hit .117. She had an assist, three blocks and seven digs. Sydney Bent and Caroline Meuth had 11 kills, and Bent had two blocks and 12 digs and Meuth had 15 digs and a block. Kristin Baer had eight kills in 15 errorless swings and had four block. Setter Zoe Nunez had three kills, 40 assists, two aces and eight digs … 

New Hampshire (10-4) swept NJIT as Kennedi Smith had 12 kills, hit .458, and added two aces, four digs and a block, but then UNH was swept by Towson. Emily Jarome had 15 kills, an assist, 10 digs and a block for Towson, which is 10-2 … 

South Carolina (8-4) swept Kennesaw State (7-4) as Mikayla Shields had 12 kills and then came back and beat High Point (6-8) as Shields had 12 more kills and four aces …

Brown (8-2) beat Georgia State (4-7) in five as Eliza Grover had 18 kills, hit .417, and had an ace, four digs and six blocks … Melissa Evans had 13 kills and three blocks as NC State (5-7) swept winless Furman …

Georgetown had its best preseason in a while and stands 10-4 after sweeping Howard (3-11). Iva Vujosevic led with 13 kills, hit .333, and had five aces, 13 digs and a block … Middle Tennessee (6-8) swept winless Arkansas-Pine Bluff as five players had five or more kills and MTSU hit .389 … Louisiana-Monroe (9-5) beat McNeese (7-5) in a battle of Louisiana schools despite hitting .187. McNeese hit .091. ULM then swept Alcorn State.

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