NCAA volleyball: Kentucky upsets Florida in five, big wins for Cal, WSU, Illinois

NCAA volleyball 10/7/2019-Alexis Dirige-WSU volleyball
WSU's Alexis Dirige makes one of her 18 digs/Ed Chan,

Washington State entered Sunday’s road match versus USC having lost its last two, but just as you were starting to forget the No. 24 Cougars kicked off the Pac-12 season with an upset of Washington, they knocked off the Trojans in a gripping five-setter.

And that wasn’t the only big storyline out of the Pac-12 as No. 19 Cal swept Oregon and Arizona kept Colorado from getting its first conference win.

On the other side of the country, No. 4 Pittsburgh stayed undefeated in ACC play, defeating No. 23 Florida State 3-1, but No. 15 Kentucky earned the biggest upset of the day, beating Florida in five to take the stop spot in the SEC standings.

No. 18 Illinois’ defeat of No. 17 Purdue was the only other upset, technically, but you’d have to guess the Illini will be ahead of the Boilermakers in this week’s new AVCA poll.

More on those results will follow, but first a look at Monday’s sprinkling of matches.

New Mexico State, which currently leads the Western Athletic Conference standings with a 3-0 record, faces California Baptist (1-2).

The day’s other four matches all come out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Prairie View A&M and Southern, both 5-1 in league, will play in Baton Rouge, while Alabama A&M, also 5-1, hosts Alcorn State (1-5). Then there’s Texas Southern (3-3) versus Grambling State (1-5) and Mississippi Valley State (1-5) taking on Alabama State (2-4).

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Pac-12: Washington State’s five-set defeat of USC (25-20, 25-22, 26-28, 16-25, and 15-13), although technically not an upset, marks WSU’s first victory inside the Galen Center and the first road win over USC since 1998.

“We went into the last set saying, ‘Hey, no matter what happens, we’re going to hold our heads high, we’re going to have good energy, and we’re going to give it our all,” Washington State libero Alexis Dirige said. “‘Even if we don’t get the point, we’re still going to have a good attitude.’ That went a long way for us in the fifth set.”

Three Cougars finished the match with double-digit kills—Jocelyn Urias had 18, hitting .441; Pia Timmer tallied 17 with six digs; and Kalyah Williams had 12, but also made nine errors on 45 swings for a .067 clip. USC’s Khalia Lanier set a new season high with 23 kills and 25 points and topped her career high in blocks with five.

The two teams finished the match with almost identical hitting percentages: .243 for Washington State and .241 for USC.

Washington State head coach Jen Greeny credited her team’s back-court defense with the win, and indeed, the Cougs out-dug the Trojans 78 to 67.

“We know that we don’t have the biggest team right now, and to be in matches against teams in this conference, that we’re going to have to make those plays and be defensively really solid,” She said. “I thought our backcourt did a really nice job of digging.”

NCAA volleyball 10/7/2019-Raegan LeGrand-USC volleyball
USC’s Raegan LeGrand dives for the ball, finishing with a match-high 25 digs/Ed Chan,

No. 8 Washington handed UCLA its first Pac-12 loss of the season, downing the Bruins on the road in four sets (25-21, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23). Junior outside hitter Maria Bogomolova got her first start of the season, collecting eight kills with zero errors to hit .421, but, no surprise here, Kara Bajema led the Husky offense with 18 kills.

Washington dominated from the service line, recording nine aces to UCLA’s two, but the two teams were evenly matched at the net with eight blocks each.

Despite the loss, UCLA had some stellar performances from its players with Mac May collecting a career-high 29 kills hitting .434 with 15 digs and Savvy Simo with a new career high of 19 kills, hitting .354 with 12 digs …

In Cal’s sweep of Oregon, senior outside hitter Bailee Huizenga had 13 kills hitting .440 to lead her team to its first victory in Eugene since 2002.

“Today’s match was one of our best this season in terms of consistency, execution of scouting reports, and we were really dialed in with our blocking defense,” Cal head coach Sam Crosson said. The Bears out-blocked the Ducks eight to three …

No. 20 Utah stayed tied for first place in the conference standings with a sweep of Arizona State, and Arizona blanked Colorado, preventing the Buffs from earning their first conference win. At 0-4, Colorado is the only Pac-12 team not to have at least one league win.

SEC: There was a lot on the line in Sunday’s premier SEC matchup between Kentucky and Florida. For one, Kentucky’s conference win streak that stretches all the way back to 2017, not to mention the top spot in the conference standings and elevated status in this week’s national poll.

With four players contributing double-digit digs and libero Gabby Curry leading the match with 22, Kentucky held Florida to a .130 hitting percentage and won the match in five sets (25-12, 19-25, 22-25, 25-19, 15-8). Kentucky hit .237 for the match, but .450 in the deciding fifth set. Leah Edmond had 19 kills, while Alli Stumler and Leah Meyer also reached double-digits, with 15 and 11 kills, respectively.

Kentucky’s junior setter Madison Lilley had three kills and no errors on seven attempts to boast a .429 hitting percentage. She also added 49 assists and 11 digs.

Thayer Hall led Florida with 17 kills …

One of the most exciting games on Sunday was Texas A&M versus Missouri. A&M went up 2-0 with Missouri hitting negative before the Tigers launched a major comeback to win in five (16-25, 17-25, 25-18, 31-29, 15-12), hitting .433 and .431 in the third and fourth sets, respectively.

Mizzou outside hitter Kylie Deberg posted her second double-double of the season with 23 kills and 13 digs. Middle Tyanna Omazic, who suffered an ankle injury in the fourth set, returned to the match to help her team complete the comeback, finishing with 10 kills and three block assists.

A&M’s Hollann Hans had 19 kills and 10 digs for her fifth double-double of the season …

Ole Miss remained undefeated in conference play with a four-set victory over LSU in Baton Rouge. The Rebels have now won 11 matches in row, the second-longest streak in head coach Steven McRoberts’ six years at the helm.

Freshman outside Anna Bair led Ole Miss with 15 kills, but four Rebels made it to double digits, including Leah Mulkey who hit .364 with 11 kills. Middle Aubrey Sultemeir added a match high nine block assists to her 11 kills …

Sunday’s other three SEC matches all ended in sweeps, with Tennessee topping Auburn (25-20, 25-18, 25-23), Georgia besting Alabama (25-22, 25-23, 25-23), and South Carolina keeping Mississippi State winless in conference (25-11, 25-23, 28-26).

Big Ten: Illinois’ victory over Purdue (28-30, 25-17, 25-14, 25-21) marked its third Big Ten win in a row. Jacqueline Quade had a fantastic night, posting 20 kills and a career-high 18 digs in addition to four aces and three blocks. Megan Cooney tied her career high with 19 kills. Mica Allison set a career high with nine.

Redshirt freshman setter Diana Brown impressed with 51 assists and 13 digs for her eighth career double-double …

Michigan improved to 4-0 in conference with a sweep of Ohio State (25-20, 25-21, 25-19) in the only other Big Ten match on Sunday. Paige Jones led the Wolverines with 19 kills and just one error to hit .500. Elle Sandbothe was the only Ohio State player in double-digit kills, logging 12 to go with three blocks.

On a positive note for the Buckeyes, Sunday’s match was played in front of a sellout crowd of 3,994, marking the first sell-out in Ohio State women’s volleyball history and in the brand-new Covelli Center.

ACC: Pittsburgh won Sunday’s marquee ACC match, topping Florida State 25-15, 26-24, 14-25, 25-19. In the Panthers’ fourth top-25 victory of the season, opposite Chinaza Ndee led all players with 15 kills, hitting .344. Kayla Lund and Stephanie Williams also reached double-digit kills, and middle Sabrina Starks had six kills with no errors to hit .462.

Payton Caffrey led Florida State with 12 kills …

Duke got past Syracuse in five sets, with the fifth going to extra points. Duke held a slight advantage in blocking (18 to 16), but ’Cuse won the digging battle 63 to 61 and out-aced Duke eight to four.

Blue Devil middle Ade Owokoniran led the match with 22 kills on just 39 attempts, hitting .436, but Syracuse’s Marina Markova starred at the net on defense with 11 blocks …

Miami and Virginia also stretched their match to five before Miami could score the victory. Miami’s strong serving (10 aces) and blocking (11 blocks) helped the Hurricanes overcome Virginia’s advantage in the digs (64 to 54) and kills (55 to 53) departments. Miami is now 4-0 in five-set matches.

Balanced offenses on both sides of the net saw three players on each team finish the match with double-digit kills …

Boston College, Notre Dame, and Louisville all remained undefeated in conference play with wins on Sunday (over Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Clemson, respectively). North Carolina improved to 2-2 in the ACC with a 3-1 defeat of Virginia Tech, which is winless in conference.

Clare Naughton set a new career-high with 19 kills in Boston College’s match versus Wake, adding 10 digs for her first double-double of the season. BC is 4-0 in ACC play for the first time in program history.

Big 12: TCU won its first conference match of the season, besting Texas Tech in five sets. The Horned Frogs went on a 6-2 run to stave off Tech’s match point in the fifth set and win the match 21-25, 25-21, 25-17, 18-25, 16-14. Katie Clark led TCU with 21 kills.

Around the Nation: South Dakota is 15-1 after winning its second five-set match in a row, this time a come-from-behind victory over Denver. Freshman Elizabeth Juhnke led the team with 15 kills, while Nebraska transfer Sami Slaughter had 10. South Dakota out-blocked Denver 18 to nine with Slaughter and Claire Gerdes both contributing five block assists each …

Despite two players clocking more than 20 kills, Quinnipiac lost a five-set MAAC matchup to Manhattan. Manhattan libero Nashally Eleutiza set a new career high with 31 digs to help lead her team to its first conference victory of the season …

Jordan Thompson had 37 kills hitting .433 in Cincinnati’s four-set defeat of USF, while setter Armania Heckenmueller recorded a double-double with 49 assists and 14 digs …

In defeating Temple on Sunday, Houston has now won five five-set matches in a row and boasts a 4-0 record in American Athletic Conference play. Katie Karbo’s match-high 26 digs puts her 231 digs away from a new AAC record, and Megan Duncan led the match with 24 kills to go with 13 digs …

Carmen Freeman put away 22 kills for UMBC, but her team lost to New Hampshire in five sets…

UCF swept East Carolina and McKenna Melville posted 16 kills and just two errors on 31 swings to hit .452. She added an ace and 11 digs …

Western Kentucky remained perfect in Conference USA play, sweeping Marshall. Lauren Matthews had 17 kills and no errors to hit .607. As a team, WKU hit .378 and held Marshall to a .057 clip. Also in C-USA action, UTSA got a career performance from 5-8 outside hitter Hannah Lopez in a four-set victory over UTEP. Lopez tallied a game-high 13 kills, hitting a personal best .458 …

Rachel Woulfe had 15 kills with two errors to hit .684 and lead SMU to a sweep of Wichita State. The sophomore outside hitter also contributed four blocks …

Elon’s Leah Daniel had 17 kills, but her team hit -.006 in a four-set loss to UNCW, the Phoenixes’ first conference loss of the season. UNCW collected a season-high 17 team blocks, and libero Anna Weissmann had a career-high 26 digs …

Colgate and Army each had a player with 20 kills in the teams’ Patriot League match on Sunday. Army’s Courtney Horace maintained a .268 clip to go with her 20 kills, while Alli Lowe added nine digs, an ace, a block assist, and a solo block to her stat line as Colgate won in four.


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