Western Kentucky, ranked No. 22, won the big Conference USA showdown at No. 17 Rice, beating the Owls in five for its 22nd victory in a row.
Cincinnati won the big battle in the American Athletic Conference, as it beat UCF in four.
Rice had won 13 matches in a row.
Fairfield won its 19th in a row, Towson won its 18th in a row, and VCU won for the 15th consecutive time.
In the ACC, Pittsburgh not only won its 14th in a row, the Panthers clinched a tie for the league title with four-set win over Clemson. FGCU beat Lipscomb and clinched a share of the ASUN title.
Of course there was an upset, as LSU knocked off No. 25 Texas A&M.
The recaps and notes follow, but first a look at Monday’s light NCAA Division I women’s volleyball schedule.
There are three matches in the Western Athletic Conference as Grand Canyon is home for California Baptist, Chicago State goes to Eastern Illinois, and UTRGV is at CSU Bakersfield.
The three SWAC matches show Alcorn State at Mississippi Valley, Texas Southern at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Jackson State at Alabama State.
There’s a Summit League match when Western Illinois goes to Omaha, and in the Colonial Athletic Conference Hofstra goes to College of Charleston.
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WKU tops Rice in C-USA: The Hilltoppers (26-1, 12-0 Conference USA) won 25-20, 25-21, 19-25, 18-25, 16-14 to break the tie at the top of the league.
“When we were up 2-0, I walked in our huddle and said ‘I fully anticipate this going five,'” WKU coach Travis Hudson said. “You know what Rice is, you know they’re so talented. Seeing them in person, they’re even better than I thought they were. They’re so talented and they play such good defense and they’re so well coached.
“We knew it was going to be a battle. I’m just really proud of our young team for just hanging in there. (Rice) really turned the momentum in sets three and four. I thought we came out in set five, and we weren’t more aggressive than them, we just met them in terms of aggressiveness and it was anybody’s match heading into that last set.”
Rice (22-2, 11-1) had won 20 in a row at home and held a 9-6 lead in the fifth.
“Today was a great volleyball match between two teams that deserve to be in the postseason and have the ability to make noise in the NCAA Tournament,” Rice coach Genny Volpe said. “It shows a lot about our league overall and how much C-USA has improved. We’ve got several teams that can compete for a conference championship and it’s made us all better.”
Lauren Matthews led WKU with 17 kills, hit .314, and had a dig and six blocks, one solo. Sophia Cerino had 16 kills, hit .424, and had three aces, three digs and three blocks, one solo. Paige Briggs had 11 kills, an assist, a block and 10 digs, and setter Nadia Dieudonne had five kills in 11 attempts to hit .364, had 60 assists, an ace, four blocks and 16 digs.
Nicole Lennon led Rice with 17 kills and had an ace, two blocks and 14 digs. Grace Morgan had 13 kills with no errors in 20 attempts and hit .650 to go with three blocks and a dig. Anota Adekunle had 13 kills, hit .455, and two digs and nine blocks, one solo. Tori Woogk had 11 kills, three blocks and four digs.
“We didn’t execute well in the first two sets, and WKU did,” Volpe said. “I thought we were a little tight to start the match. But I give our team credit for maintaining their composure, which they’ve done all season. Today could have gone either way but WKU made the final play at the end.”
WKU is ranked No. 27 in the NCAA RPI and will likely move up in the new list Monday. Rice was 17th.
“I think when everybody looked at this matchup and saw it coming it was fitting that it went five, it was fitting that it was 16-14,” Hudson said. “If we play them 10 times, we’re probably going to each win five of them. It’s two very good teams. But, our young kids just have a specialness about them. They’re not going to back down.
“Even in sets three and four when Rice put it to us pretty good, we didn’t stop playing, Rice just really raised their level. So, I think it was a great showcase for Conference USA volleyball, and I hope that both of us can put that on display again as we move forward into December.”
Also in C-USA on Sunday, third-place North Texas (15-10, 9-4) lost in four at UTEP despite 22 kills by Valerie Valerian … Marshall beat FAU in five as Ciara DeBell had 21 kills for FAU and hit .347 and had an ace, eight digs and three blocks, one solo. Sydney Nemtuda had 23 kills, 18 digs and a block for FAU … UTSA swept Middle Tennessee … Sydney Rowan had 19 kills, four aces, 12 digs and a block as Charlotte beat UAB in four. UAB’s Abby Carlile had 23 kills, an assist, two aces, a block and 18 digs … Louisiana Tech beat Southern Miss in four as Emily Boyan had 16 kills and hit .577.
Pac-12: There were three matches and in each the ranked team won.
Washington (19-5, 10-4) won 25-16, 22-25, 25-13, 25-23 at Oregon State (9-16, 3-11) as Kara Bajema led with 20 kills and hit .447. She had an ace, three blocks and 15 digs. Samantha Drechsel had 17 kills, hit .350, and had eight blocks and three digs. Ella May Powell had a kill, 52 assists, an ace, three blocks and seven digs. Her team hit .303.
Oregon State’s Haylie Bennett had 19 kills and hit .389 and had two blocks …
Cal (20-4, 10-4) had to go the distance at Arizona State (13-12, 5-9) as Mima Mirkovic and Bailee Huizenga had 18 kills each in a 18-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-27, 15-12 victory. Mirkovic had an assist, two aces, a block and 19 digs, and Huizenga hit .410 and had two assists, a block and 13 digs. Maddie Haynes had 13 kills, an ace and three digs, and Lauren Forte had 11 kills, hit .381, and had a dig and five blocks, one solo. Setter Isabel Potter had two kills, 50 assists, two blocks and 17 digs.
Andrea Mitrovic led ASU with 20 kills and hit .395 and had two blocks and nine digs. Megan Beedie had 13 kills, hit .476, and had an assist, three digs and five blocks, one solo …
Washington State (21-5, 10-4) won at Oregon (7-16, 3-11) 25-20, 25-15, 16-25, 26-24. Six Cougars had five or more kills as Pia Timmer led with 10. WSU hit .149, while Oregon hit .145. Ronika Stone had 19 kills, 15 digs and eight blocks for the Ducks.
ACC: No. 2 Pittsburgh improved to 25-1, 14-0 in the league with its 19-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-22 home victory over Clemson (10-15, 4-10). Kayla Lund led a balanced attack with 15 kills and 15 digs. Chinaza Ndee had 13 kills, a dig and three blocks, one solo. Stephanie Williams had eight kills, two assists, two aces, four blocks and 10 digs. Kaylin Korte had 14 kills for Clemson, which hit .115. She added nine digs and five blocks, two solo …
Florida State, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and North Carolina are all tied for second at 10-4.
Florida State beat Louisville in four as Payton Caffrey led with 16 kills, an assist, two aces, eight digs and three blocks. Claire Chaussee had 19 kills for Louisville … Notre Dame lost at Miami in five as the Hurricanes’ Elizaveta Lukianova had 21 kills and hit .571 after having one error in 35 swings. She had two digs and five blocks, one solo. Teammate Janet Kalaniuvalu had 18 kills. Caroline Meuth had 20 kills for ND and Charley Niego 19 …
Georgia Tech swept Virginia as Mariana Brambilla had 12 kills … North Carolina swept Wake Forest as Parker Austin had 13 kills, six digs and three blocks, one solo … Syracuse swept Virginia Tech behind 17 kills from Polina Shemanova, who hit .469, and 16 from Ella Saada, who hit .519 … Duke outlasted NC State in five. Lauren Cline led with 20 kills and had no errors in 38 attempts to hit .526 to go with two digs and nine blocks. Three other Blue Devils had 11 or more kills, including Gracie Thompson, who had 16, 19 digs and three blocks. Melissa Evans had 19 kills for NC State to go with seven digs and four blocks.
Minnesota beats Ohio State: In the only Big Ten match of the day, the No. 6 Gophers (19-3, 13-1) pulled into a tie with idle Wisconsin atop the league with a 25-23, 25-20, 26-24 sweep at Ohio State. Airi Miyabe and Adanna Rollins had 11 kills each and Alexis Hart 10. Stephanie Samedy had six kills, seven digs and six blocks.
The Buckeyes (13-13, 6-8) got 13 kills from Gabby Gonzales.
SEC: Start with the upset, as LSU (13-10, 7-6) kept Texas A&M (17-6 9-4) off balance all match en route to a 25-19, 25-23, 17-25, 25-23 victory, its first win over a ranked opponent at LSU since 2010. Samarah Hill had a career-high 20 kills and hit .357 and added an assist, nine digs and four blocks. Taylor Bannister had 15 kills, and, while hitting .146, hit the match-winner that hit the top of the net and found the floor. She had two assists, a dig and six blocks, one solo. Whitney Foreman had five kills and nine blocks, one solo. Setter Karli Rose had three kills, 35 assists, 14 digs and three blocks as LSU hit .182, but A&M hit .115. Hollann Hans led with 20 kills, but hit .196. She added an assist, an ace 11 digs and a block. Treyaunna Rush had 11 kills but hit .077 …
No. 12 Florida (19-3, 10-1) won at Mississippi State (13-13, 2-12) as Thayer Hall had 12 kills, a block and 12 digs, and Paige Hammons had 10 kills, two aces, four digs and a block …
No. 18 Kentucky (17-6, 10-2) swept at Auburn (6-17, 0-12) 25-17, 25-15, 25-17 as Leah Edmond had 13 kills, hit .310, and had two assists, 11 digs and four blocks. Setter Madison Lilley had five kills, 31 assists, two aces, 16 digs and two blocks. Auburn hit .048 …
Missouri won in four at Georgia as four players had 12 or more kills. Kylie Deberg led with 18, hit .371, and had three aces eight digs and three blocks, two solo. Kacie Evans had 22 kills and hit .395 for Georgia and had five aces, five digs and a block … South Carolina extended the Ole Miss losing streak to seven with a sweep in Oxford. The Mikaylas, Shields and Robinson, had 12 kills each … Tennessee swept at Alabama as three players had 10 or more kills, 11 by Tessa Grubbs.
Hawai’i beats UCR: In the only Big West match of the day, the No. 19 Rainbow Wahine (22-3, 12-2) won their ninth match in a row, a 25-19, 25-11, 25-17 victory at UC Riverside (6-18, 2-11). McKenna Ross and Hanna Helvig had 11 kills each. Ross had no errors in 16 attacks and hit .688 and had five digs, while Helvig hit .450 and had three blocks and two digs. Riverside hit .096.
American Athletic Conference: Cincinnati made it 2-0 against UCF, this time winning 25-22, 23-25, 25-14, 25-21 in Orlando as Maria Mallon led with 21 kills and Jordan Thompson had 19. Cincinnati (22-5, 13-1) broke a tie between the two East leaders as UCF dropped to 19-7, 12-2.
Mallon hit .308 and had an assist and 12 digs. Thompson, while hitting .154, had four aces, a block and 14 digs. Adria Oliver had 11 kills and hit .529 and Karoline Fauske had 10 kills, hit .368, and had an assist, an ace, a block and 12 digs. Setter Armania Heckenmueller had a kill, 56 assists, a block and nine digs.
McKenna Miller had 20 kills for UCF and three blocks and 14 digs. Kristina Fisher had 15 kills, hit .424 after having one error in 33 swings, and had an ace and eight digs. Anne-Marie Watson had seven kills and seven blocks, one solo …
SMU, which leads by a game in the West, won in four at Tulsa as Hannah Jacobs had 17 kills and Rachel Woulfe 16 … Jasmine Davis had 22 kills and 18 digs for UConn in its five-set win at Houston … Memphis won in five at Wichita State and Hannah Flowers had 19 kills, hit .400 and had an assist, three aces, seven digs and two blocks … Bri Wood had 17 kills and 18 digs for ECU in its four-set win at South Florida. USF’s Lindsey Pliapol had 19 kills … Tulane beat Temple in four as Lexie Douglas led with 14 kills.
ASUN: FGCU (25-4, 13-2) won at Lipscomb (13-12, 9-5) as Cortney VanLiew had 16 kills in the 25-19, 25-11, 25-17 victory. VanLiew added an ace, three blocks and seven digs. Danielle Serrano had four kills and seven blocks, two solo. Samantha Rubal led Lipscomb with 10 kills and hit .692 …
Second-place Kennesaw State (18-8, 11-3) swept at Stetson as Quin Sutphin had 17 kills and hit .640 to go with two aces and two blocks … Liberty won in four at North Florida as three players had 15 or more kills, led by Casey Goodwin’s 19. She hit .444 and had an ace, 12 digs and three blocks. Jacksonville won in four against the MEAC’s Bethune-Cookman as Mallory Mattingly and Lindsey Grossman had 18 kills each.
South Dakota clinched the Summit League title on Friday, but the Coyotes are still trying to extend their 22-match winning streak when they play at North Dakota.
Around the nation: VCU improved to 21-5, 12-0 in the Atlantic 10 as it won its 15th in a row, a sweep at Rhode Island. Maria Victoria Giommarini led with 10 kills and hit .389, exactly what VCU hit as a team … Also in the A10, La Salle beat Saint Louis in five as Elizabeth Osborn had 20 kills …
In the only Big East match Sunday, St. John’s swept Butler as Efrosini Alexakou had 17 kills, hit .314, and had two aces, two blocks and 16 digs …
Towson (24-2, 14-0 Colonial) rolls on as the Tigers won their 18th in a row, a four-set victory at UNCW. Olivia Finckel had 17 kills, six digs and seven blocks, Lydia Weirs had 16 kills and hit .414 and had four blocks, and Emily Jarome had 15 kills and 12 digs … Also in the CAA, James Madison swept Willam & Mary and Elon swept Delaware …
Green Bay (19-7, 11-3) swept IUPUI to pull into a first-place tie with Wright State in the Horizon League as Taylor Wolf led with 12 kills, hitting .333, to go with 14 digs and two blocks. Also in the Horizon, Northern Kentucky beat Milwaukee (23-5, 10-4), which dropped the Panthers into second place, and UIC beat Cleveland State in five …
Fairfield (21-4, 16-0 Metro Atlantic) won its 19th in a row as the Stags swept Saint Peter’s behind 15 kills from Kaylie Butts, who hit .393 and had five blocks, one solo, and 14 kills from Laura Seegar …
Abby Nash had 19 kills for Hartford in an America East victory over UMBC, while Albany beat Stony Brook and holds a two-game lead over idle New Hampshire … Ann Ernst had 21 kills for Loyola Maryland in the only Patriot League match of the day, but the Greyhounds lost in four to Navy. Maddi Sgattoni led the Mids with 14 kills, hitting .353, and had two assists, three aces, and 13 digs.