NCAA volleyball: Texas Tech, UNC, Miami get opening victories

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Tasha Vipond-Virginia Tech volleyball-NCAA volleyball 9/25/2020
Tasha Vipond of Virginia Tech prepares to spike against North Carolina/Virginia Tech athletics photo

Texas Tech swept visiting West Virginia in the Big 12, and in the ACC North Carolina won at Virginia Tech and Miami held off visiting Georgia Tech.

It was a prelude to a relatively busy Friday in this abbreviated fall NCAA Division I volleyball season that shows 16 matches on the Friday slate, including another one in Norman, Oklahoma, where, in case you missed our story Thursday night, Texas put on an offensive show in a Big 12 sweep at Oklahoma.

Friday, there’s an early start in Louisville as the Cardinals open with a 2 p.m. Eastern first serve against Notre Dame in the ACC opener for both. At 5 p.m., Syracuse is home for Pitt and Virginia Tech is back at it again with North Carolina, and then Georgia Tech returns to Miami at 6.

In the Big 12, Texas-OU has a 6 p.m. first serve. Also in the conference, West Virginia is back at Texas Tech at 6 p.m., and Kansas State welcomes Iowa State and Baylor goes to Kansas as those four teams open their seasons at 6:30.

One team that won’t be playing this weekend is UTA. No, Texas-Arlington had to cancel its Sun Belt Conference matches Friday and Saturday against Arkansas State because some its players tested positive for COVID-19. They hope to make it up this fall.

There were other Sun Belt postponements, too, including Coastal Carolina-South Alabama (USA is in turn playing host to Stephen F. Austin of the Southland for two on Saturday), and Appalachian State vs. Georgia Southern.

From the App State news release: “App State and AppHealthCare (our local public health agency) have identified one active case of COVID-19 in a member of the Mountaineers volleyball team. The student is recovering in isolation. Contact tracing efforts have led to quarantine for other members of the team.

“At this time, the Mountaineers do not have enough available players for the upcoming matches against Georgia Southern that were scheduled to open App State’s 2020 season.”

But other Sun Belt teams are in action Friday and that includes three doubleheaders with Georgia State playing Troy twice, Louisiana-Monroe playing Texas State twice, and Louisiana playing Little Rock twice.

Texas Tech sweeps WVU — Caitlin Dugan led a balanced attack with nine kills and Brooke Kanas had eight in the Red Raiders’ 25-17, 25-23, 25-22 victory. Dugan, who hit .300, had three blocks. Kanas had one error in 16 attacks and hit .438 and had four blocks. Texas Tech hit .280.

West Virginia hit .143. Natali Petrova and Briana Lynch led with 11 kills each. Lynch had no errors in 21 swings. Audrey Adams added nine kills and four blocks.

Miami edges GT — The Hurricanes went up 2-0 and then had to grind out a 25-17, 25-20, 19-25, 18-25, 16-14 victory. Elizaveta Lukianova had 23 kills, hit .370, and had two digs and three blocks, one solo for Miami. Angela Grieve had 14 kills, two assists, two aces, eight digs, and five blocks, two solo. And Janet Kalaniuvalu had 13 kills, hit .312, and had two aces, 11 digs, and a block. Setter Savannah Vach had a kill, 56 assists, two aces, 11 digs, and a block.

“The first win is always tough,” Miami coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “We have a lot of young people out in the lineup and (Georgia Tech) is a really good team who returned key players. We battled some nerves, but I’m proud of the way they battled back to win.”

Miami hit .309, while GT hit .296. The Yellow Jackets got 22 kills from Mikaila Dowd, 16 from Mariana Brambilla, and 14 from Julia Bergmann. Dowd, who hit .391, had six digs and a solo block. Brambilla had 16 digs and two blocks, while Bergmann had two aces and seven digs. Setter Matti McKissock had a kill, 53 assists, seven digs, and two blocks.

UNC downs VT — North Carolina hit .174 but came away with a 25-22, 24-26, 25-15, 25-20 road victory in its season opener.

Aziah Buckner led with 14 kills and added an ace, four digs, and a block. Destiny Cox had 12 kills and six blocks, one solo. UNC won its season opener for the first time since 2016.

VT dropped to 1-1 after opening last week with a win over The Citadel. The Hokies hit .154 and got 15 kills from Ashley Homan, 13 from Kaity Smith, and 12 from Marisa Cerchio.

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