No. 4 Florida returned the visit with a sweeping statement at No. 6 Kentucky.
Third-ranked Texas had to battle back from 0-2 to win at Kansas State.
Top-ranked Penn State won at No. 9 Michigan State in four and is also the top team in the “NCAA top-10 reveal,” which was announced Wednesday night.
Colorado and Miami won again and so did Fairfield, still unbeaten in the Metro Atlantic.
The recaps from a light night of NCAA Division I women’s college volleyball follow with some reaction to the reveal, as well, but first a look at Thursday’s schedule.
The only match involving a power-five conference team has No. 15 Utah playing host to Washington State in the Pac-12.
Both the West Coast Conference’s ranked teams — who are tied for the league lead — play Thursday. No. 10 BYU is home for Pacific, while No. 13 San Diego entertains Saint Mary’s.
One other ranked team is in action as No. 20 Colorado State plays entertains Utah State, hoping to stay unbeaten in the Mountain West.
There’s a full slate in the Big Sky. North leader North Dakota plays at Eastern Washington, while second-place Idaho, a game behind, has Northern Colorado at home. South leader Sacramento State plays host to Montana State, while Portland State, two games back, is home for Montana.
In the MAC, west leader Ball State, tied with Western Michigan, plays host to Toledo, which is a game back.
As always, you can click on links to watch any of the matches that are being shown in the daily VolleyballMag.com TV and streaming listings.
NCAA tabs Penn State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Stanford as top four: Those are the coveted spots heading into the NCAA Tournament, because the top four teams, should they survive the first two rounds, get to be regional hosts.
The NCAA Division I volleyball will meet in person to select the NCAA Tournament bracket, but in this case visited by phone to come up with this list, doing so only for matches through this past Sunday. So it does not include Florida’s victory at Kentucky.
They came up with this, with records followed by NCAA RPI:
1. Penn State, 21-1, RPI 1
2. Nebraska, 18-4, RPI 4
3. Minnesota, 21-2, RPI 2
4. Stanford, 19-2, RPI 7
5. Kentucky, 19-2, RPI 3
6. Florida 18-1, RPI 5
7. Texas, 17-2, RPI 6
8. Washington, 18-5, RPI 9
9. Oregon, 14-6, RPI 10
10. Wisconsin, 15-6, RPI 8
“The whole intent of releasing the top 10 is to spark conversation and debate and get everyone excited about NCAA volleyball,” said Lisa Peterson, the chair of the committee who is deputy athletic director/senior women’s administrator at Oregon.
“All 10 of these schools and all the other teams we considered are playing incredibly well right now and it’s so great for the sport that our conversation took twice as long as we thought it would to get the top 10.”
Peterson said “the only thing easy was Penn State at No. 1. Everything else was a debate.”
Veteran Penn State coach Russ Rose, whose team gave Stanford its two losses, said “It certainly has ramifications, because it’s the volleyball committee that’s responsible for seeding and selecting teams for the tournament.”
Rose knows that being a top-four host team is no small thing.
“In this age of saber metrics one could do a study on the winning percentage of people who are hosting,” Rose said. “We’ve won as a host and we’ve lost as a host. But certainly it’s challenging late in the year — unless you’re chartering — to go travel and play. Last year Stanford was the only one who was able to win on the road in the regionals. They had a veteran team.”
So does Penn State, but Rose reminded how unpredictable the rest of the season and the tournament can be.
“I think six teams in our conference could win the national championship,” Rose said. “And I think Florida, Kentucky for sure, and Texas and Stanford and I’m sure there’s somebody else in the Pac-12 that I don’t know about and there’s probably some team out there laying low that’s really good.”
Texas coach Jerritt Elliott considered the Longhorns — who have lost in the last two national-title matches and been to five consecutive final fours — being No. 7 after escaping from Manhattan, Kansas, with a tough Big 12 win.
“Right now we need to take care of our side of the net,” Elliott said. “There is a lot of volleyball left to be played, and we will have to wait and see how this all pans out. There are a lot more wins and losses to be had with the top eight teams.”
The real bracket will be announced at 9 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, November 26 on ESPNU.
The NCAA Tournament starts November 30. The final four is in Kansas City, December 14-16.
Florida swamps Kentucky: Just less than three weeks ago, the Wildcats went to Gainesville and overpowered Florida in four sets. Wednesday, the Gators more than returned the favor with a stunning 25-19, 25-23, 25-22 sweep on Kentucky’s home floor.
It left Florida a half game up atop the SEC, as the Gators improved to 19-1, 11-1 in the SEC, while Kentucky is 19-3, 10-1.
Do-it all senior outside Carli Snyder had 15 kills, hit .517, had eight and two blocks as Florida won what was just the fourth top-10 matchup in SEC play. The Gators lost the previous three.
Shainah Joseph had 12 kills, hitting .476, while Rhamat Alhassan had nine kills, hit .500 to go with seven blocks, while Rachael Kramer had eight kills.
“I feel like tonight everything was clicking from the start,” Snyder said. “I knew we had to come in and play really low error.”
Florida hit .327 in large part because Snyder was, in fact, error free, with no hitting errors in 29 swings, while UK hit .170.
“This is a huge win,” Snyder said. “When you play a top team a lot of times the mentality is there’s nothing to lose. But tonight we did have something to lose. We lost at home and we had some pride … We went out and played really hard. I think this is my favorite win.”
Kentucky’s Leah Edmond had 16 kills, hit .424, had two digs and three blocks, one solo. Emily Franklin had six kills and setter Madison Lilley had 12 digs and two blocks before a crowd of 5,329.
“Florida played well tonight,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “Our team was prepared. They were focused and very into the day’s routine and getting ready. They was absolutely no give up after getting down 2-0. We got a lead and had a chance but Florida responded. Our team is tough and they certainly didn’t shy away from the moment.”
Also in the SEC on Wednesday, Auburn beat Alabama 25-21, 25-14, 20-25, 23-25, 15-11 to improve to 13-8, 6-6. Shaina White had 15 kills and hit .542 for Auburn. Brenna McIlroy added 14 kills and 19 digs. Alabama (16-9, 4-7) got 16 kills from Mahalia Swink, who had nine digs and two blocks, one solo.
Texas escapes K-State, Baylor wins: The Longhorns (18-2, 10-0) fell behind and then rallied for a 21-25, 24-26, 25-18, 25-15, 15-11 on a night when Kansas State (9-15, 2-9) probably couldn’t played better, especially in the first two sets.
“I thought we were more consistent from start to finish,” K-State coach Suzie Fritz said. “I didn’t think we gave up as many runs of points. I thought some of the small ball things we have been working on – in terms of managing tips, converting points … little things like that, I think we are starting to see the rewards.”
Micaya White led Texas with 17 kills and 17 digs and also had two aces and four blocks. Lexi Sun had 16 kills, seven digs and a block and Yaazie Bedart-Ghani had 10 kills, hit .350 and three blocks. Morgan Johnson had nine kills, hit .529 and had three blocks, one solo. Chiaka Ogbogu not only had eight digs, but 11 blocks.
And Cat McCoy had 25 digs to become the program’s all-time digs leader with 1,639.
Kylee Zumach led Kansas State with 19 kills. She had 10 digs and three blocks. Bryna Vogel added 11 kills and 19 digs, while Peyton Williams and Macy Flowers each had nine kills and three blocks.
“Defensively, I thought we were really good,” Fritz added. “We got a lot of hands in front of stuff and forced them to have to move the ball around a little bit more. I thought our back-row defense played phenomenally well. Bryna Vogel and Reilly Killeen and Devan Fairfield, in particular, played tremendous defense. They kept us in rallies and gave us opportunities.”
No. 24 Baylor routed TCU 25-20, 25-14, 25-18 as Yossiana Pressley had 17 kills and hit .353 as the Bears won again with leading attacker Katie Staiger still out with an injury. Baylor (19-5, 9-2) hit .301 as Shelly Fanning and Aniah Philo had nine kills each. Fanning hit .353 and had seven blocks, while Philo hit .333 and had 12 digs.
TCU (10-12, 2-8) hit .071. Anna Walsh led with seven kills and three blocks.
Penn State, Illinois, Michigan win in B1G: The Nittany Lions won in East Lansing 27-25, 25-19, 25-27, 25-21 as Haleigh Washington and Simone Lee had 18 kills each.
Washington hit .444 and had two digs and three blocks, while Lee had five digs and three solo blocks. Ali Frantti had 13 kills, and ace, seven digs and a solo block and setter Abby Detering had nine kills, hit .471, seven digs and three blocks.
Michigan State (16-6, 9-4) got 16 kills from Autumn Bailey, who had 14 digs. Alyssa Garvelink had 14 kills and 11 digs and Brooke Kranda had 13 kills.
“Michigan State’s really good and they have six seniors on the floor,” Rose said. “And they do some things we had great difficulty defending and I think other people have also had great difficulty defending. They’re big, their confident at the net. We played well for two and a half, three games, and we were fortunate that we didn’t fade.”
MSU coach Cathy George had praise for Penn State.
“… but I was proud of the fight I saw in our team tonight,” George said. “We fought back at every turn, even in the fourth set when they jumped on us early and led by seven points, we battled back to tie it.
“These are the games you get in the Big Ten. I thought the fans were treated to some exciting rallies and some really entertaining volleyball. We’re disappointed that we couldn’t pull it out, but I think that we still have lots of good things to build on and we’re going to get back into it tomorrow to prepare for Northwestern.”
Illinois (17-7, 8-5) overwhelmed visiting Northwestern (13-12, 3-10) 25-18, 25-22, 25-15 as Tyanna Omazic had 11 kills, hit .714 and had six blocks, one solo. Jacqueline Quade added nine kills and three blocks.
Michigan blasted visiting Rutgers 25-15, 25-19, 25-14 to improve to 16-9, 6-7, while the Scarlet Knights dropped to 5-20, 0-13. Katherine Mahlke and Carly Skjodt led Michigan with eight kills each.
Colorado, Miami get wins: In the Pac-12, Colorado swept visiting Washington State 25-14, 25-17, 25-23 to improve to 18-6, 8-5 as Frankie Shebby had 10 kills, nine digs and two blocks. Anna Pfefferle and Alexa Smith had eight kills each. Pfefferle hit .467 and had three digs and three blocks, while Smith had five digs.
WSU (14-11, 3-10) hit minus-.023. Taylor Mims had 13 kills, seven digs and two blocks.
Miami got an important ACC win at Florida State. The 25-19, 25-21, 25-23 victory included 21 kills from Olga Strantzali, who hit .486 and had seven digs and two blocks, one solo. Kolby Bird added 11 kills for the Hurricanes (15-4, 9-4) who stayed two games of the three-team pack of Pittsburgh, Louisville and NC State atop the ACC and a game behind Syracuse.
Florida State (12-9, 6-7) got 11 kills from Milica Kubura.
Around the nation: Fairfield is 18-6 and 13-0 in the Metro Atlantic after beating visiting Marist 25-21, 26-28, 25-19, 25-21 as Skyler Day and Megan Theiller had 13 kills each …
In the battle at the bottom of the MAAC, Manhattan also won the rematch to improve to 2-25, 2-12 and keep Saint Peters winless at 0-27, 0-15. Sandra Lozanova led the Jaspers with 15 kills …
Furman is 17-8, 9-1 in the Southern Conference after sweeping The Citadel 25-20, 25-19, 25-5. Furman, which hit .384, got 13 kills from Nicole Mack, who hit .435. She also had 10 digs.