Our headline here referred to “tantalizing” matchups on tap for Wednesday night.
We were right.
And then some.
No. 5 Texas came back at Kansas to win in five, 18-16 in the fifth.
No. 14 Washington held off No. 15 Oregon in five, 15-13 in the fifth.
No. 11 Wisconsin upset No. 4 Nebraska in four, but, then again, are there really any upsets in the Big Ten?
Also Wednesday, No. 6 Minnesota swept No. 16 Purdue, No. 23 Iowa State swept Kansas State and No. 8 Kentucky took over sole possession of first place in the SEC.
The recaps follow, but first a look at Thursday’s schedule.
The only team from a power-five conference in action is Alabama of the SEC, which goes to Alabama State of the SWAC. Alabama is 13-6 overall, while Alabama State is 16-7 and even though it’s not a league match, the Hornets lead the SWAC at 9-0.
Both ranked West Coast Conference teams play Thursday in two matches that pit the top-four teams in the league. No. 7 BYU (watch our video chat with BYU’s Veronica Jones-Perry) plays host to Portland, while No. 18 San Diego plays host to Gonzaga. BYU is atop the WCC at 17-1, 6-0, while Portland is in fourth place at 13-5, 4-2. Gonzaga is 11-7, but also unbeaten in the league at 6-0, while USD is 12-4, 5-1, the only loss coming to BYU.
Remember that VolleyballMag.com has all the TV and streaming listings every day for every match that is being shown.
Texas, Iowa State get Big 12 victories: Baylor and Iowa State are hoping to get into the mix, but for now the focus on the top of the Big 12 is Texas and Kansas.
Wednesday night they were more than deserving of the spotlight as the Longhorns came away with a 21-25, 27-25, 18-25, 25-10, 18-16 victory that was as gripping as the scores would indicate.
It left Texas 13-2 overall and 5-0 in the Big 12, while Kansas lost for the first time in the league to drop to 16-3, 5-1.
Freshman Lexi Sun led with 21 kills, including the match-ender. She had just two errors in 40 attacks and hit .475 while adding nine digs and seven blocks, one solo. The other outside, sophomore Micaya White, had 19 kills, Texas’ only ace — and six of her team’s 15 errors — and 14 digs. Senior middle Chiaka Ogbogu had 11 kills, three kills and 10 blocks. Freshman setter Ashley Shook had 52 assists, 12 digs and two blocks.
Kansas, which had won 19 Big 12 matches in a row, hit .156 and that includes hitting .400 in the fifth set. The last time the Jayhawks lost in the league was on September 24, 2016, at Texas.
Senior outside Madison Rigdon led with 20 kills, 11 digs and five blocks. Senior right side Kelsie Payne had 16 kills, but hit .176. She had 14 dig and two blocks. Sophomore outside Jada Burse had 13 kills and five digs. Senior setter Ainise Havili had 50 assists and became the program’s all-time assists leader. She also had 14 digs and a block.
Iowa State swept visiting K-State 25-12, 25-16, 27-25. It left the Cyclones 12-3, 3-2, while Kansas State is 9-10, 2-4.
Samara West led with 12 kills and hit .414. She had five blocks and six digs. Teammate Grace Lazard added 11 kills and four blocks and Jess Schaben had nine kills and 18 digs.
K-State had 23 kills and hit .015.
Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa win in B1G: Two weeks earlier, Wisconsin lost in five at Nebraska after winning the first two sets. Wednesday night in Madison, there was no repeat, but the Badgers again won the first two and then had to close out 25-16, 25-15, 17-25, 25-23.
“That was a good win. You get into some of those close matches, and you’re able to build from that. Just believe. We can get a close one here against a top team in conference, and to come away with a win just by playing our game. I’ve said it before—this team is good enough,” Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield said.
“There were probably a lot of people watching that on TV probably had us losing (the fourth set) and losing the fifth. I thought, to come back there in the fourth, making winning plays — just playing steady, just doing your job, putting a good serve in, passing, playing some defense— I just thought we were steady there at the end of the fourth.”
Freshman middle Dana Rettke led a balanced attack with 12 kills while hitting .500. She had an ace, eight blocks — one solo — and two digs. Sophomore Madison Duello had 13 kills and five blocks, senior Lauryn Gillis had 11 kills and eight digs and senior Tionna Williams had 10 kills, hit .318 and had four blocks.
Nebraska, which hit .163 and saw a seven-match winning streak end, lost for the first time in the B1G and fell to 13-4, 6-1. Jazz Sweet led with 11 kills, while Mikaela Foecke and Briana Holman had nine each. Foecke had 11 digs. Annika Albrecht had eight kills and nine digs.
Minnesota won its fourth in a row with its 25-17, 25-21, 25-23 sweep of Purdue.
It left the Gophers 16-2, 5-2, while Purdue is 15-3 and also 5-2.
Stephanie Samedy led with 13 kills while hitting .355. She had seven digs. Alexis Hart added 11 kills while hitting .308. Molly Lohman and Regan Pittman had seven kills each.
Purdue got 15 kills from Danielle Cuttino. Azariah Stahl added 13 kills and had eight digs.
Kentucky rolls on in SEC: The Wildcats steamrolled visiting Texas A&M 25-7, 25-13, 25-21.
“I was very impressed with our team tonight,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “It started in practice yesterday. We had good focus in practice. To be able to execute the game plan like that right out of the gates was pretty impressive. You’ve got to attribute a lot of that to our leadership and keeping us focused. I thought we did a really good job of keeping focused for those three sets.”
Kentucky pulled a half game ahead of idle No. 1 Florida as the Wildcats improved to 15-2, 6-0 in the SEC. Florida is 5-0 in the conference and Missouri is a game back in the loss column at 4-1.
Leah Edmond had 13 kills, hit .310 and had five digs and two blocks for Kentucky. Avery Skinner had 12 kills, while hitting .450, and Kaz Brown had six kills in nine errorless swings and had four blocks.
Texas A&M had 23 kills — 10 by Hollann Hans — and hit .075.
Tennessee came back to win at Georgia 15-25, 25-22, 17-25, 27-25, 15-5 as Stephanie Buss had five of her 16 kills in the fifth. Tennessee is 9-7, 2-5, while Georgia is 12-8, 2-5. Tessa Grubbs added 13 kills for Tennessee.
Georgia’s T’ara Ceasar and Rachel Ritchie had 19 kills apiece.
Washington escapes Oregon in Pac-12: The Huskies won a wild one 20-25, 25-19, 25-21, 24-26, 15-13 behind a balanced attack that included five players with 10 or more kills.
“Certainly it’s great to win a rivalry game and it’s great to win it in dramatic fashion,” UW coach Keegan Cook said.
“It’s great to have to make plays in really critical moments. Those things are all good for us, and so I love those moments for our team, even when they don’t go our way. Just loving that we’re in these really critical moments that we know we’re going to need to be in later on, that we have the confidence to execute.”
Washington (15-3, 5-2 Pac-12) was up 7-2 in the fifth before things go dicey. Oregon (10-5, 3-4) tied it at 12 but Washington finally won it on a kill by Marion Hazelwood.
”You saw two Pac-12 teams who are good, who are going through adversity, who are sensing that this is a pivotal match,” Cook said. “You saw some nervous volleyball at times from both sides, and so there were big swings. Teams would score four points, then be down by four points, and it swung our way there in that last set, but certainly we only had one hitting error, played really clean in that fifth set, and we needed it because we won by two.”
Courtney Schwan and Crissy Jones had 15 kills apiece for Washington. Schwan had 17 digs, while Jones added five digs and five blocks. Carly DeHoog had 12 kills, Hazelwood finished with 11 and three blocks — one solo — and Tia Scambray had 10 kills and 16 digs.
Oregon got 19 kills from Taylor Agost, who had 11 digs and five blocks. Willow Johnson had 11 kills and four blocks — one solo — and Lindsey Vander Weide added nine kills and 13 digs and Ronika Stone had nine kills and four blocks.
“Those are the matches where you have the most fun,” Oregon coach Matt Ulmer said. “We want teams to show up and play well, and we want to play our best ball. I thought this was a great match for us to see how we would respond to some of our injuries in a tough venue, and I think we played well.
“I thought everyone had great moments tonight, so I’m really proud of them. It’s a bummer that we had to lose, but someone has to lose and that was just a fun match.”
Syracuse gets ACC win over BC: The Orange are 14-6 and stayed a half game back of the lead in the ACC at 6-1 after the 25-22, 25-16, 25-21 victory. BC is 5-12, 2-5.
Anastasiya Gorelina led Syracuse with 11 kills, two block and seven digs. Ella Saada had 10 kills and 10 digs. BC’s Lynn Braakhuis had 10 kills, two blocks and five digs.