NCAA volleyball: Upsets galore and Colorado, Northwestern finally break through

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NCAA volleyball 11/2/2019-Lauren Sanders-Washington Husky volleyball
Washington's Ella May Powell dives for a ball against USC/Stephen Burns, Pacific Northwest photography

Two streaks ended Friday night — two losing streaks, that is — as the Pac-12’s Colorado and the Big Ten’s Northwestern both scored their first conference victory of the season.

Friday also saw its share of upsets, with Michigan beating No. 19 Illinois in four sets, Texas A&M downing No. 15 Kentucky, and No. 12 Washington losing to USC in five.

No. 20 Cal lost its third match in a row, this one in four to Oregon, and No. 25 UCLA, coming off a monster weekend, continued its hot streak with a sweep of No. 22 Washington State.

It’s created quite a situation in the Pac-12, where Stanford leads at 9-2, UCLA is a game back at 8-3, and Utah, Washington, Washington State, USC and Cal are tied at 7-4.

More on those matches and other notable results from around the nation, but first a look at Saturday’s NCAA schedule.

Start with the Big Ten where No. 7 Penn State goes to No. 8 Nebraska in the biggest match of the night, regardless of conference. Also Illinois looks to rebound versus Michigan State, Ohio State takes on Maryland, Iowa hosts Rutgers, and Michigan faces Northwestern.

In the Big 12, No. 3 Baylor plays Iowa State. Also Oklahoma has Kansas, and TCU takes on Kansas State.

The only Pac-12 match of the night has Oregon State at Cal.

The SEC and ACC are both off Saturday, with the exception of a non-conference match between Florida State and High Point.

No. 11 BYU hosts Pacific, and elsewhere in the WCC, LMU takes on Gonzaga, Pepperdine goes to Portland, and San Diego hosts Saint Mary’s.

Weber State and Northern Arizona, the No. 2 and 3 teams in the Big Sky standings, face off in Ogden, Utah. The Big South’s top team Winthrop will try to remain undefeated in league play as it takes on Campbell, No. 3 in the standings.

Another competitive matchup will be Wright State versus Green Bay, two teams contending for the top spot in the Horizon League.

Robert Morris, unbeaten in league play, faces a tough test in Northeast Conference action, taking on Sacred Heart, the closest team to the Colonials in the standings, and Southeast Missouri State and Jacksonville State, both 9-2 in Ohio Valley Conference play, will meet in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Stephen F. Austin puts its 16-match win streak to the test versus Houston Baptist.

Want to watch a match? We’ve got you covered. Click here for the complete NCAA.com scoreboard and to watch any match that is being broadcast, go to the VolleyballMag.com daily TV and streaming listings.

First conference wins for CU, NU: Freshman Elissa Alcantara was the key as Colorado (9-12, 1-10) earns its first conference win of 2019. She recorded a career-high 22 kills, hitting .425, adding two blocks. Alcantara’s fellow freshman, Sterling Parking, had 16 kills, hitting .364, and setter Jenna Ewert was just one assist away from a new career-high, finishing with 61 assists. Paige Whipple led Arizona (12-11, 2-9) with 22 kills, while middle Devyn Cross had 13 kills and 10 blocks …

Not only did Northwestern (10-13, 1-10) get its first Big Ten win of the season, the Wildcats did it in straight sets, never letting Michigan State (13-8, 4-7) score more than 20 points in a set. NU’s star junior outside hitter Nia Robinson led with 13 kills, enough to pass the 1,000 career kills marks. Stanford grad transfer setter Payton Chang finished the match with 31 assists and eight digs.

NCAA volleyball 11/2/2019-Keila Barra-USC volleyball
USC’s Keila Barra digs as her teammates look on/Stephen Burns, Pacific Northwest photography

Friday night upsets: It’s hard to say which was the biggest upset.

Unranked Oregon (7-13, 3-8), no longer receiving votes in the AVCA poll, took down No. 20 Cal (17-4, 7-4). The Ducks’ senior middle Ronika Stone had a big night to make it happen, smashing 17 kills, hitting .556 and adding three blocks. Outside hitter Brooke Nuneviller had 14 kills and led the match with 19 digs …

But then again, Cal has now lost three in a row, so you could argue for USC’s (13-8, 7-4) defeat of No. 12 Washington (16-5, 7-4) as the biggest upset. Trojan senior Khalia Lanier set career-highs with 33 kills and 36 points. With 10 digs, she also had the 38th double-double of her career. Kara Bajema had 20 kills for Washington …

Michigan (14-7, 7-4) got its biggest victory of the season, a four-setter over No. 19 Illinois, thanks to 15 kills from sophomore Paige Jones and 13 each from Sydney Wetterstrom and May Pertofsky. The Wolverines hit .333 as a team. Illinois’ Jacqueline Quade led the match with 18 kills …

In the only match of the night between two top-25 teams, No. 25 UCLA (13-7, 8-3) swept No. 22 Washington State (18-5, 7-4). UCLA has now won four in a row. Mac May led the Bruins with 20 kills, adding eight digs, and Savvy Simo scooped 20 digs.

Despite the loss, WSU held an 11-3 blocking advantage, led by Jocelyn Urias with six …

Texas A&M’s (15-5, 7-3) four-set defeat of No. 15 Kentucky (15-6, 8-2) marks the Aggies’ first road win over a ranked opponent since 2011. Hollann Hans (who else?) led the match with 19 kills, adding four aces and five digs. The two teams were closely matched in most statistical categories, except A&M had much better success from behind the service line, finishing the match with nine aces to Kentucky’s three.

ACC: No. 2 Pitt (22-1, 11-0) stayed undefeated in the ACC, beating Wake Forest (11-11, 1-10) in straight sets Friday night, a program-record seventh consecutive sweep of an ACC opponent. Stephanie Williams led the Panthers with nine kills and three aces …

In a five-set loss to Georgia Tech (15-7, 8-3), North Carolina’s (10-11, 7-4) Lauren Harrison had a match-high 21 kills and hit .327. Tech, however, had a narrow attacking efficiency advantage (.277 to .214) and was led by Julia Bergmann with 15 kills …

Similarly, Kaylin Korte led the match between Clemson (10-12, 4-7) and NC State (9-14, 4-7) with 23 kills, hitting .250, but her Tigers lost a five-setter to the Wolfpack, despite going up 1-2 …

With 21 kills from Ella Saada and 22 from Polina Shemanova, Syracuse (7-11, 4-7) got a surprise win over Notre Dame (15-6, 8-3). The Orange out-blocked the Irish 12 to nine and had 74 digs to UND’s 57 …

Another ACC upset saw Boston College (15-6, 8-3) down Louisville (15-6, 8-3) in five. BC won the match despite being out-performed by Louisville in almost every statistical category, including total points (76-89). Amaka Chukwujekwu led the Eagles with 14 kills, hitting .379, while Cat Balido and Jewel Strawberry each added 12.

Pitt leads the league at 11-0, Florida State is second at 9-3, while BC, Louisville, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech are all 8-3.

Big Ten: After the wins by Michigan and Northwestern, the other two Big Ten matches were decided in straight sets.

No. 8 Nebraska (17-3, 9-2) hit .384 in a sweep of Rutgers (7-15, 1-10), and No. 7 Penn State’s (17-3, 10-1) Kaitlyn Hord had a match-high 14 kills, hitting .591 in the Nittany Lions’ defeat of Iowa (9-13, 3-8).

Pac-12: Meghan McClure led No. 5 Stanford to a sweep of Oregon State with 11 kills and just one error (.370), and libero Morgan Hentz managed to rack up 21 digs in the short match …

No. 17 Utah (15-7, 7-4) narrowly avoided an upset at the hands of Arizona State (13-9, 5-6), as the Utes won in five. Utah’s Kenzie Koerber had a big night, tying for match-highs in both kills (17) and digs (20). Middle Berkeley Oblad’s 16 kills is a career-high, and Dani Drews added 15 kills and 15 digs.

SEC: Tessa Grubbs’ 21 kills led Tennessee (10-11, 4-7) to a five-set victory over Ole Miss (14-7, 6-4). Libero Madison Coulter had a match-high 24 digs, and setter Sedona Hansen recorded her 11th double-double of the season with 51 assists and 11 digs …

South Carolina (14-8, 6-4) swept LSU (10-10, 4-6), and Mikayla Shields led the way with 17 kills and just one error to hit .640.

James Madison’s Briley Brind’Amour tries to tip over the Towson block of Lydia Wiers, left, and Emily Jarome/Tiffany DeBoer photo

Around the nation: Lindsey Ruddins had 27 kills and took 80 swings, but her UC Santa Barbara (19-3, 9-2) squad lost in five sets to No. 21 Hawai’i (19-3, 9-2). Hanna Hellvig had a career-high 19 kills to led UH to the season sweep of UCSB, and libero Rika Okino set her own personal best with a match-high 25 digs …

No. 18 Rice (20-1, 9-0) collected 69 digs in a sweep of Charlotte (13-13, 2-7), holding the 49ers to a .094 hitting percentage. Nicole Lennon led the offense with 18 kills …

No. 23 Western Kentucky (24-1, 10-0) made just eight hitting errors in its 3-0 win over UTEP (10-12, 3-6). Paige Briggs led with 11 kills and five digs …

DePaul (11-12, 3-8) libero Isabelle Banez had 24 digs in a five-set loss to Butler (10-13, 7-4) …

Lina Bernier, libero for FIU (9-13, 2-8), set a career-high with 41 digs in a five-set loss to North Texas (13-9, 7-3). It’s the second-most digs in a Conference USA match this year. The victory for North Texas made Andrew Palileo the winningest head coach in program history with 134 total victories …

In a match between Ivy League standings leaders, Princeton came away with the five-set victory. Natasha Skov, Maggie O’Connell, and Clare Lenihan each had 13 kills to lead the Tigers. O’Connell passed 1,000 career kills in the match, and libero Cameron Dames set a new career-high with 32 digs. Cornell’s Madison Baptiste led with 23 kills, adding 11 digs …

Also in the Ivy, Brown (11-8, 3-6) and Harvard (4-14, 2-7) each had a player with 24 kills as the Bears defeated the Crimson in five sets. Brown’s Sophia Miller added 17 digs and three aces to her team-leading kill total, while Harvard’s Mindie Mabry also had two aces and 16 digs …

Coastal Carolina (18-5, 8-3) is back on top in the Sun Belt East thanks to a come-from-behind victory over South Alabama (18-8, 9-3). Anett Nemeth led all players with 21 kills, and Ani Bozdeva added 18 …

SMU (15-6, 8-3 American Athletic) escaped Memphis (14-9, 3-8) in five sets. Freshman Kaylyn Winkler set a new career-high with 19 kills, and libero Montana Watts had 34 digs, tied for the ninth-highest match total in SMU program history …

Towson (21-2, 10-0) stayed on top and undefeated in the Colonial Athletic Association with a four-set victory over preseason favorite James Madison (14-7, 8-3). Opposite Olivia Finckel led the match with 17 kills and setter Marissa Wonders finished with 50 assists …

Carol Barbosa led Little Rock (5-17, 3-7) to a five-set Sun Belt victory over Georgia State (7-15, 3-8) with 24 kills and 18 digs. Lauren Jansen also had a double-double for Little Rock with 10 kills and 20 digs.

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