USC suddenly stands alone in second place in the Pac-12 after the 17th-ranked Trojans beat No. 15 Utah on Thursday night.
“I’ve been telling them all year that they can get to the final four, “ USC coach Mick Haley said, “and everyone’s been laughing at me.”
More on USC later, but no one is likely laughing at Haley now.
In the other Pac-12 match involving two ranked teams, No. 18 UCLA swept visiting No. 25 Colorado. No. 13 Washington, No. 16 Oregon and Oregon State all won in sweeps.
NC State won and now holds a half-game lead atop the ACC.
No. 9 BYU and No. 12 San Diego both won West Coast Conference sweeps.
No. 19 Colorado State, which had already clinched the Mountain West, won again.
And there was an upset in Conference USA that doesn’t affect anything but pride.
All the recaps follow, but first a look at Friday’s schedule, starting back in the Pac-12.
Utah goes across town to UCLA, while Cal goes to Washington State.
In the Big Ten, No. 5 Minnesota goes to No. 21 Purdue, No. 8 Michigan State plays host to Illinois, No. 10 Wisconsin is at Indiana and Northwestern plays at Michigan.
The two teams now tied for second in the ACC are in action as Pittsburgh plays host to Wake Forest and Louisville is home for Virginia. Also in the ACC, Syracuse goes to Florida State and Virginia Tech is at Notre Dame.
No. 4 Florida has a chance to gain a half-game over idle No. 7 Kentucky in the SEC when the Gators play host to Arkansas. Also in the SEC, LSU goes to Mississippi State and Ole Miss is at Georgia.
The Big 12 is off.
No. 20 Wichita State tries to stay unblemished in the American Athletic when it goes to East Carolina.
No. 22 Cal Poly tries to do the same in a Big West match against visiting UC Davis.
To watch those and any NCAA matches, go to the VolleyballMag.com daily TV and streaming listings with times and links.
USC, UCLA, Washington win in Pac-12: USC (19-7, 11-4) has been up and down this season, but its 25-21, 25-17, 18-25, 25-22 win over visiting Utah was its fourth in a row. Khalia Lanier had 17 kills, hit. 304, and had nine digs and a block. Brittany Abercrombie had 16 kills, three digs and three blocks, one solo. Niki Withers had 11 kills, two digs and three blocks and Brooke Botkin added 10 kills, four digs and three blocks, one solo. Jordan Dunn had seven blocks and two kills.
“If you look at it, we can score from both pins in all six rotations,” Haley continued from his earlier thought. “And as our middles get a little more comfortable and as our passing continues to improve we’ll be able to score in the middle in the next three weeks. We’ve shown that we can do that a little bit more, but that’s enough points to win.”
Utah (18-8, 9-6) got 15 kills from Adora Anae, who hit just .091. She had an ace, 18 digs and two blocks. Kenzie Koerber added nine kills, four digs and six blocks, one solo. Coach Beth Launiere’s team has a quick turnaround, because the Utes go to UCLA on Friday.
“We had two great matches with these guys,” said Haley, whose team won in five at Utah three weeks ago. “We went five up there without Khalia, and we were down 2-1, and somehow came back to win in sets four and five, and tonight we played two really good opening sets, in the third set we lost our concentration, in the fourth set we were able to get on them and stay on them.
“Anae was fun to watch tonight. She had 18 digs, I think, she was just like a cat out there. For Jordan to stuff her on match point was really special.
“I think we’re gaining momentum, and I think we’re gaining confidence too. We’re pretty physical now, we can score. If we keep working on our block and our defense, and keep winning the serving-and-passing game, we’ll be in good shape. Today we had trouble serving, but it’s late in the semester, it comes and goes. I don’t think we’ll have that problem in the tournament.”
Colorado’s winning streak ended at four as the Buffs (19-7, 9-6) lost at UCLA 25-23, 25-18, 25-20. The Bruins (16-8, 9-6) have won three in a row.
UCLA’s Jenny Mosser had 14 kills and nine digs and Madeleine Gates had 10 kills and hit .529 while getting seven blocks, three solo. Reily Buechler had eight kills and 13 digs and Sarah Sponcil had 35 assists and 16 digs.
Frankie Shebby had 13 kills, five digs and four blocks for Colorado. Alexa Smith had eight kills and 11 digs.
A day after upsetting No. 2 Stanford, Washington (21-6, 11-5) swept Cal 25-16, 25-16, 25-23 as five players had five or more kills. Washington, which has won six of its last seven, got seven kills from Courtney Schwan, who hit .438 and had 14 digs and two aces. Kara Bajema and Carly DeHoog had nine kills each. Cal (13-13, 4-11) got 16 kills from Antzela Dempi.
Oregon swept Arizona State 25-17, 25-23, 25-22 to improve to 16-7, 9-6, while ASU dropped to 10-7, 0-15. Five Ducks had seven or more kills as Taylor Agost, Jolie Rasmussen and Lindsey Vander Weide had nine each.
Oregon State (18-9, 8-7) won at Arizona (9-15, 3-12) 25-14, 25-23, 25-18. Kory Cheshire led the Beavers with 12 kills, while Maddie Goings and Mary-Kate Marshall had 10 each.
NC State takes ACC lead: But only by a half game and likely only for one day after beating visiting Clemson (7-20, 2-13) 25-21, 19-25, 25-12, 25-18 as the Wolfpack (18-8, 13-2 ACC) got 16 kills from Bree Bailey and 15 from Teni Sopitan, who had three blocks.
Kaylin Korte had 13 kills for Clemson, which hit .081.
Also in the ACC, Miami (16-5, 10-5) beat Boston College (6-19, 3-12) in five and North Carolina (13-10, 10-5) did the same to Georgia Tech (12-14, 7-8). Gabriela Stavnetchei had 26 kills, four assists, 12 digs and a block for Georgia Tech.
BYU, San Diego get WCC wins: BYU won at Gonzaga 25-15, 25-13, 25-21. The Cougars (24-2, 13-1 WCC) got 16 kills, seven digs and three aces from Veronica Jones-Perry. Cosy Burnett had seven killls and three blocks. Gonzaga is 13-13, 8-6.
San Diego (20-4, 13-1) went to Portland (14-12, 5-9) and won 25-16, 25-23, 25-14 as Lauren Fuller had 10 kills and hit .588. Jayden Kennedy had nine kills, hit .412 and had four digs and two blocks, one solo.
Rams roll: Colorado State is 25-2, 15-0 in the Mountain West after sweeping Nevada 25-21, 25-20, 25-23 for its 15th win in a row. Breana Runnels led with 15 kills, four digs and a block. Paulina Hougaard-Jensen had 14 kills, hit .550 and had two digs and two blocks, one solo. Kirstie Hillyer added 11 kills, hit .450, two digs and three blocks. Nevada (9-18, 7-8) got 11 kills from Madison Foley.
Around the nation: Auburn beat Tennessee 25-22, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20 to improve to 14-8, 7-5 in the SEC as Brenna McIlroy had 20 kills and 12 digs. Shaina White added 17 kills. Tennessee (11-12, 4-10) got 10 kills from Tessa Grubbs …
Western Kentucky still owns a share of the Conference USA title for the fourth consecutive year, but the high-flying Hilltoppers were stopped at North Texas 21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 19-25, 15-13. It left WKU 27-3, 13-1 in C-USA, while North Texas is 25-2, 12-1.
North Texas beat WKU for the first time since 2008 as Alexis Wright had 18 kills, hitting .361, and had five digs and five blocks. Amanda Chamberlain had 14 kills, hitting .367, while Holly Milam had 12 kills, five digs and a block. WKU’s Alyssa Cavanaugh had 19 kills. She hit .325 and had seven digs. Rachel Anderson had 18 kills, hit .429 and had four digs and five blocks, one solo. it’s certainly likely the two teams will play again in the conference tournament …
The Big Sky had a big night. North Dakota and Idaho both won and remained tied atop the North at 11-4. UND beat Northern Arizona 25-20, 25-17, 25-19 to get to 26-7 overall as Tamara Merseli had 12 kills, 21 digs and three blocks and Faith Dooley had 10 kills, three digs and seven blocks. Idaho (16-10) won the hard way at Montana 19-25, 25-15, 25-27, 30-28, 19-17 as Kaela Straw had 23 kills and hit .417. DeVonne Ryter had 10 kills and eight blocks.
Also in the Big Sky, Sacramento State is way ahead in the South after winning at Idaho State 25-22, 25-20, 15-25, 23-25, 15-11. The Hornets (23-8, 14-1) got 20 kills Mikaela Nocetti …
It’s become a two-team race in the Southland, where Stephen F. Austin is 25-6, 13-2 and Central Arkansas stands 23-4, 12-3. SFA was idle, but Central Arkansas lost in five to visiting McNeese State (19-11, 10-5). Sam Houston (15-13, 10-5) fell off the pace by getting swept at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (13-13, 10-5). Houston Baptist is also 10-5 after sweeping New Orleans.