[Premium] NCAA: USC takes over 2nd in Pac-12, ACC still has a 3-way tie, VCU, WKU roll on

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Kathryn Plummer of Stanford hits over the triple blocks of Oregon/Stanford photo

USC stands alone in second place in the Pac-12 — barely. The No. 17 Trojans beat visiting Arizona in five after falling behind 2-1 to get a full game ahead of idle Colorado.

But no one is catching No. 2 Stanford, which dispatched No. 16 Oregon in three and now stands four games ahead of USC.

There’s still a three-way tie for first in the ACC, although while NC State and Pittsburgh won in sweeps, Louisville had to come back from 0-2 at Duke to win in five, leaving all three teams at 12-2 in the league.

In the only Big Ten match of the day, No. 22 Purdue beat Iowa in five after falling behind 2-1.

Both ranked SEC teams won Sunday, as No. 4 Florida swept Tennessee and No. 6 Kentucky won in four against South Carolina.

Three other ranked teams, No. 14 Creighton, No. 21 Wichita State and No. 25 Western Kentucky all won in sweeps as WKU clinched the Conference USA regular-season title with its 23rd win in a row.

VCU won its nation-leading 24th in a row as it closed in on the Atlantic 10 title and Albany beat Hartford and is the America East champion.

And wait till you see the line that Laura Milos had for Oral Roberts.

Also, the NCAA announced its latest RPI, the ranking that is so important in the selection and seeding for the NCAA Tournament. This week, Penn State is still No. 1, Minnesota is second, but Florida is No. 3 and SEC rival Kentucky is No. 4, followed by Nebraska, Texas, Stanford, Washington, Oregon and Wisconsin.

There are only five games on Monday’s schedule, including Texas State at UT-Arlington. While UTA (12-14, 6-7) is finding its way under first-year coach J.T. Wenger, Texas State (20-8, 11-2) needs to win to pull into a first-place tie with idle Louisiana atop the Sun Belt Conference West Division.

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John Dunning, who retired as coach after Stanford won the NCAA title last December, was back on The Farm and honored by his former program Sunday

USC, Stanford win in Pac-12: Arizona had USC on the ropes all match long before the home team prevailed 25-20, 23-25, 24-26, 25-22, 15-11. It was the 950th Division I career win for USC coach Mick Haley, who is 950-253 all-time in DI and 1,201-304 overall coaching women’s teams.

Khalia Lanier led USC (18-7, 10-4 Pac-12) with 16 kills and she had nine digs and two blocks, one solo. Three players had 11 kills each, Brittany Abercrombie, Niki Withers and Brooke Botkin. Abercrombie had three blocks, Withers had four digs, and Botkin hit .370 with two blocks.

Arizona (9-14, 3-11) not only swept USC in Tucson earlier this season but had won the last three against the Trojans. Kendra Dahlke and Tyler Spriggs led with 16 kills each. Dahlke had an ace, eight digs and four blocks, while Spriggs hit .367 and had three blocks. Elizabeth Shelton had nine kills, three digs and three blocks.

Stanford (21-2, 14-0) crushed Oregon 25-14, 25-18, 25-14 as the Cardinal hit .519.

Kathryn Plummer led with 14 kills while hitting .385. She also had five aces, two blocks and three digs. Merete Lutz had 13 kills, hit .688 and had three blocks. Meghan McClure had 10 kills, hit .368 and had two aces, a block and seven digs, and Audriana Fitzmorris had seven kills and hit .636 to go with five blocks.

Oregon got 13 kills from Taylor Agost, who hit .385 to with a block and a dig. Lauren Page and Jolie Rasmussen had four kills each.

Purdue gets past Iowa: The Boilermakers (18-7, 8-6) came away with a 25-20, 19-25, 23-25, 26-24, 15-9 win after Danielle Cuttino had 27 kills with just four errors in 43 attacks. She hit .535, including seven kills in the fifth set on eight errorless swings. She also had seven blocks in the match, one solo.

Sherridan Atkinson had 16 kills, hit .300, and added an ace, eight digs and three blocks. Azariah Stahl had 11 kills, an ace, 18 digs and four blocks.

Iowa (16-11, 5-9) got 15 kills from Claire Sheehan, who led a balanced attck. She had two aces, three blocks and 13 digs. Taylor Louis had 14 kills and five digs to go with a solo block, while Jess Janota had 11 kills, five digs and two blocks and Kelsey O’Neill had 10 kills and eight blocks, one solo.

“You could tell we ran out of steam in the fifth set,” Iowa coach Bond Shymansky said. “We gave a lot in the fourth set. We tried to battle them off and they pulled it out at the end. Credit to their two big hitters for taking over and really carrying them by the end.

Still three atop ACC: NC State is 17-8, 12-2 after beating Boston College 25-20, 25-13, 25-19 as the Wolfpack hit .375. Julia Brown and Kaitlyn Kearney had 13 kills each. Brown hit .500 while getting an ace, a block and eight digs, while Kearney had no errors in 17 swings, hit .765 and had three blocks. Boston College (6-18, 3-11) got eight kills from Lynn Braakhuis.

Pittsburgh (19-6, 12-2) went 2-0 over Florida State this season with its 25-22, 25-20, 25-18 victory. Stephanie Williams led with 14 kills. She had three aces, five digs and three blocks, one solo. Layne Van Buskirk had 12 kills and two blocks and Nika Markovic had 11 kills, an ace and seven digs to go with a block. FSU (12-10, 6-8) hit .010.

And Louisville (18-6, 12-2) rallied for a 23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-16, 15-10 win at Duke. Melanie McHenry finished with 16 kills, 14 digs and two blocks. Three players, Amanda Green, Maggie DeJong and Jasmine Bennett, had 12 kills each. Green had an ace, a block and 20 digs. DeJong had eight blocks, one solo, and Bennett hit .462 and had four blocks, one solo. Duke (16-9, 8-6) got 18 kills from Anna Kropf, who hit .467. She had three blocks and two digs.

Also in the ACC, Virginia Tech beat Clemson in four, North Carolina swept Syracuse and Notre Dame went to Wake Forest and won in five. North Carolina pulled into a three-way tie for fourth at 9-5 with Syracuse and idle Miami.

Florida, Kentucky keep rolling in SEC: The Gators (20-1, 12-1) maintained their half-game lead with a 25-23, 25-19, 25-20 sweep of Tennessee (11-11, 4-9). Rhamat Alhassan had six blocks to become the school’s all-time blocks leader. She also had five kills and hit .400. Carli Snyder had 12 kills, an ace, four blocks and 13 digs, Rachael Kramer had 11 kills and seven blocks and Shainah Joseph had 10 kills, three blocks and six digs. Tennessee hit .053.

Kentucky (20-3, 11-1), coming off its loss to Florida, lost the first set against South Carolina (11-13, 4-8) before winning 20-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-16. Leah Edmond had 19 kills, hit .351, had five aces and 11 digs. Avery Skinner added 15 kills, three digs and two blocks, one solo and Emily Franklin had 11 kills, hit .450 and had four blocks. South Carolina got 10 kills from Mikayla Robinson.

Third-place Missouri (16-9, 9-3) dealt fourth-place LSU (17-7, 8-5) a tough loss, sweeping the visiting Tigers 25-16, 28-26, 25-15 to pull two games ahead in the loss column.

Missouri’s Alyssa Munlyn had 15 kills and hit .636. Leketor Member-Meneh had 10 kills, hit .444 and Kira Larson had six kills and eight digs. LSU got 13 kills from Milan Stokes, who hit 370.

Also in the SEC, Arkansas beat Texas A&M in five, Georgia swept Alabama, and Ole Miss beat Mississippi State in four. Arkansas and Georgia are tied for fifth at 7-6.

Creighton, Wichita State, WKU all sweep: Creighton (20-5, 13-1 Big East) crushed DePaul 25-11, 25-14, 25-16 as Taryn Kloth and Jaali Winters had 12 kills each. The Bluejays hit .414.

Wichita State (22-3, 14-0 American Athletic) took care of third-place Temple (14-8, 10-4)  25-22, 25-16, 25-23 as Abbie Lehman had 15 kills, hit .577 and had six blocks. Also in the AAC, SMU (18-7, 12-2) beat Tulane 25-15, 25-18, 25-18 as Katie Hegary had 12 kills and hit .556.

WKU (27-2, 13-0) won the C-USA title for the fourth year in a row by beating Middle Tennessee (25-20, 25-13, 25-16). Rachel Anderson led with 15 kills while hitting .385. She had two assists, three blocks and three digs. Alyssa Cavanaugh added seven kills with one error in 10 swings to go with a block and two digs.

“It’s incredible and I believe this title has been the hardest one to come by, just with the pressure that’s been on these kids all year,” WKU coach Travis Hudson said.

“It’s a relief to see that come to fruition and watch those kids that have sacrificed. I mean when you’re as talented as we are, kids have to make sacrifices and we’ve done that all year long. I did not know it was the first time in Conference USA history, but I’m really proud of our kids.”

Around the nation: VCU (27-2, 13-0 A-10) beat Duquesne 25-23, 25-20, 21-25, 25-21 as Gina Tuzzolo had 14 kills and four blocks and Vicky Giommarini had 11 kills, nine digs and three blocks. Alica Kandler had 10 kills, two aces and 17 digs. The Rams are guaranteed at least a share of the title and play Davidson on Saturday to end their regular season. Also in the A-10, Dayton (20-7, 11-1) kept pace as it beat Fordham in four as Jessica Sloan and Kendyll Brown had 11 kills each. Brown hit .625 and had four blocks …

Albany (10-13, 10-1) will be the host team for the America East tournament after whipping Hartford 25-16, 25-16, 25-11. Akubata Okenwa had 10 kills and hit .360 while getting seven digs and three blocks. Albany last won the title outright in 2012 and shared it in 2015 …

Charleston (24-4, 13-1) won the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title with its 25-18, 25-7, 25-22 win over Delaware. Devon Rachel led with 15 kills, nine digs, three blocks and two aces while hitting .375. Krissy Mummey had 13 kills and eight blocks while hitting .579 …

Fairfield won its 17th Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title in the last 22 years when it swept Rider 25-22, 25-16, 25-21. The Stags (20-6, 15-0) were led my Megan Theiller, who had 19 kills, hit .529 and had 11 digs …

Maryland Eastern Shore (24-7, 10-0) stayed unbeaten in the MEAC with its sweep of Coppin State as it hit .326 … Laura Milos had 31 kills as Oral Roberts (14-11, 11-2) stayed a half game ahead of Denver atop the Summit with a four-set win over South Dakota, while Denver (19-5, 10-2) was beating Omaha in four. Milos, who hit .482, also had an assist, two aces, 15 digs and a block.

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