NCAA: OSU, WSU pull off Pac-12 upsets, “November Nutiness” in tourneys

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Kelsie Payne-Kansas-KU-Kansas Volleyball-KU volleyball
Kansas' Kelsie Payne celebrates during the Jayhawks' win over Texas Tech/KU photo

There were upsets.

In the Pac-12, Oregon State beat No. 10 Washington and Washington State knocked off No. 20 Oregon, and in the Big East, Villanova swept No. 13 Creighton.

But there was also the unpredictability that conference tournaments bring.

As we’ve said here before, if basketball has March Madness, we have November Nutiness, like No. 8 Abilene Christian stunning top-seeded Stephen F. Austin in the Southland Conference.

Friday’s NCAA Division I women’s volleyball recaps follow, but first a look at Saturday’s schedule.

In the Big Ten, five ranked teams are in action but none play each other. No. 1 Penn State goes to winless Rutgers, No. 5 Nebraska plays at Maryland, No. 7 Minnesota goes to Illinois, No. 8 Michigan State is home for Indiana and No. 15 Purdue is at Michigan. Also, Iowa goes to Ohio State.

There are two matches in the Big 12 as No. 23 Iowa State plays at TCU and Oklahoma goes to Kansas State.

The SEC and ACC have Saturday off.

Both ranked teams in the West Coast Conference are in action as No. 9 BYU plays host to Santa Clara and No. 11 San Diego is home for San Francisco.

Colorado State, ranked No. 24, has a Mountain West match at San Diego State.

And the Ivy League title gets decided Saturday. The Ivy doesn’t have a tournament and its NCAA automatic bid goes to the conference winner. This year, Princeton and Yale tied at 10-4 in Ivy play and split their two matches, so they have a winner-take-all playoff at 7 p.m. Eastern.

That’s just one of many conferences whose NCAA bids will be earned either Saturday or Sunday. The complete schedule can be found on the VBM daily TV and streaming listings, with easy click-to-watch links.

OSU, WSU gets big Pac-12 wins: No. 14 USC, No. 17 Utah and No. 24 Colorado also got victories.

Oregon State (20-9, 10-7 Pac-12) did nothing to hurt its No. 29 ranking in the NCAA RPI with its 26-24, 25-20, 21-25, 19-25, 15-13 win over visiting Washington. It was the Beavers’ first win over a top-10 team since 2012 and marked the first time Oregon State swept the regular-season series with the Huskies since 1998.

OSU, which has won nine of its last 11, got 15 kills from Mary-Kate Marshall, who has led her team in kills in 26 of 29 matches this season. Marshall hit just .089 but had 12 digs and had the kill that ended the match. Maddie Goings had 14 kills and 24 digs and Maddy Gravley and Kory Cheshire had 11 kills each. Gravley had five blocks and Cheshire five digs.

Washington (21-7, 11-6) fell a game behind USC and tied with Utah for third place in the Pac-12. Oregon State is a game behind. The Huskies, who had won three in a row, were led by Kara Bajema’s 22 kills. She had three blocks and four digs. Courtney Schwan had 14 kills, two aces, six blocks and a remarkable 34 digs. Crissy Jones and Carly DeHoog had 12 kills each. Jones had two aces, two blocks and nine digs, and DeHoog added four blocks and three digs.

Washington State (16-13, 5-12) ensured NCAA Tournament eligibility by getting three games over .500 with three left. The Cougars have a NCAA RPI of 42, so every win is critical at this juncture. The 25-19, 25-22, 20-25, 29-27 victory at Oregon (16-9, 9-8) saw Taylor Mims get a career-high 26 kills. She had an ace, six digs and three blocks.

“I’m so proud of this team for putting it together and gutting it out.” Washington State head coach Jen Greeny said. “I thought we played extremely well offensively. And Taylor Mims, wow, what an afternoon.”

The fourth set was something and here’s the description from the WSU recap:

The fourth set saw the Cougars tallying six unanswered points to take a 19-14 lead. WSU players and coaches rushed the floor celebrating a 25-23 set win when a challenge review reversed the hitting error call and the set was tied at 24. The Ducks had two set points but WSU prevailed with a 29-27 win. There were 14 tie scores in this set and five lead changes.

Jocelyn Urias had eight kills to go with four digs, three blocks and an ace, and Claire Martin had six and three blocks, one solo. Setter Ashley Brown added six kills, nine digs and three blocks.

“There were contributions from every single person. Taylor and Ashley Brown did a really nice job. We were able to move Taylor around quite a bit, get her in her more natural place in the middle on a few of those attempts,” Greeny said.

“I think Taylor attacked probably the best out of the back row that I’ve seen in quite some time. A great job by Taylor. Really proud of her effort. And Ashley, even when she wasn’t playing in the front row at all, she did really well dumping two-handed. Her court-sense is really good seeing those openings. She did an exceptional job not only delivering the ball, mixing up her sets and offensively as well.”

Taylor Agost had a big match for Oregon. She had 25 kills, hit. 358 and had 10 digs and four blocks. Ronika Stone had 18 kills, hitting .586, and Jolie Rasmussen added 13 kills, three aces and 11 digs.

“Any time a team comes into your home and outworks you, it’s never a good thing, and I thought Washington State did that for most of the match,” Oregon coach Matt Ulmer said.

“Definitely for the first two sets, they were more comfortable than we were and that’s an issue to me. I thought we battled back and we did a lot of good things in the third and the fourth sets. Then I don’t know why we get fearful in crunch time when the pressure is on, so we just give away free points at the end.”

USC (21-8, 13-5) won at Cal 25-18, 25-14, 25-22 as Brittany Abercrombie had 13 kills and hit .365. Her team hit .366 as Jordan Dunn and Khalia Lanier had 10 kills each. Dunn had no errors in 10 swings and hit .714.

Cal (13-15, 4-13) got 12 kills from Antzela Dempi, who had 10 digs.

Utah (20-8, 11-6) blanked Arizona State 25-21, 25-19, 25-15 as the Utes hit .355. Adora Anae had 13 kills and six digs. ASU (10-19, 0-17) got 13 kills from Oluoma Okaro. She had seven digs and two blocks.

Colorado (20-8, 10-7) beat Arizona 25-20, 25-18, 25-19 as Alexa Smith had 12 kills, hit .400 and had seven digs and two blocks, one solo. Frankie Shebby had 10 kills, seven digs and two blocks, one solo. Arizona, which hit .120, got seven kills each from Kendra Dahlke and Tyler Spriggs.

Ranked B1G teams all win in four: Start with Nebraska, which beat Ohio State 25-23, 25-12, 22-25, 25-23. The Huskers (23-4, 16-1), who pulled back into a tie with idle Penn State atop the league, hit .341 and got 15 kills and 11 digs from Mikaela Foecke. Lauren Stivrins added 12 kills and hit. 455 and Annika Albrecht had 11 kills, eight digs and three blocks. Ohio State (14-14, 7-10), which as NCAA RPI of 38, got 11 kills from Ashley Wenz and 10 from Luisa Schirmer, who had 13 digs and two solo blocks.

Minnesota (25-3, 14-3) beat Northwestern 25-22, 29-27, 13-25, 25-18 as Stephanie Samedy had 24 kills, hit .447 and had four digs and two blocks. Molly Lohman added 13 kills and six blocks, one solo, and Alexis Hart had 12 kills, four digs, an ace and two blocks. Northwestern (14-15, 4-13) got 23 kills from Nia Robinson, who hit .347 and had eight digs and block.

No. 12 Wisconsin (18-8, 9-8) won at Illinois 25, 25-23, 25-16, 25-20 as Dana Rettke and Tionna Williams had 14 kills each. Lauryn Gillis added 13 kills to go with 12 digs and Kelli Bates had 11 kills and 14 digs to go with an ace and a dig.

Illinois (18-10, 9-8) got 14 kills from Jacqueline Quade.

Maryland (17-12, 6-11) beat visiting Iowa 25-21, 25-19, 24-26, 25-18 as Gia Milana had 19 kills and six digs. Iowa (17-13, 6-11) got 11 kills each from Kelsey O’Neill and Taylor Louis.

Pitt, Louisville tied for the ACC lead: Both teams swept, but most significantly Louisville broke the three-way tie at the top by knocking down NC State.

Pitt (22-6, 15-2) beat Clemson 25-17, 25-21, 25-13 as Stephanie Williams had 12 kills while hitting .455, Nika Markovic had 11 kills and hit .368 and Kayla Lund had 10 kills and hit .389. Markovic and Lund had three blocks each. Clemson (7-23, 2-16) got nine of its 26 kills from Kaylin Korte.

Louisville (21-16, 15-2) beat visiting NC State 25-19, 25-22, 25-15, dropping the Wolfpack to 19-9, 14-3.

“The communication on the court and the look in their eyes showed me they were confident,” Louisville coach Dani Busboom Kelly said. “They felt prepared. They did a great job of paying attention in practice, and they were talking about what was going on over on the other side of the net and not worrying about little things on our side. Great overall team effort.”

That included 13 kills from Melanie McHenry, who hit .343, had an ace, seven digs and six blocks, one solo. Amanda Green had eight kills, seven digs and a solo block. Jasmine Bennett had seven kills, hit .583 had had three digs and six blocks, one solo.

NC State, which had won five in a row, hit .110. Julia Brown led with 12 kills and seven digs.

“That match got away from us in a hurry,” NC State coach Linda Hampton-Keith said. “We didn’t play well enough, long enough to give ourselves a chance. That part is very disappointing. We have to play cleaner on the road. This is a tough conference to go on the road and we still have three more ahead of us so that’s where we will put our focus. Tomorrow is another opportunity to be better.”

North Carolina (14-11, 11-6) won in a sweep at Notre Dame (20-8, 10-7) despite hitting .051. Miami (18-5, 12-5) win in five at Virginia (7-21, 3-14) as Elizaveta Lukianova had 17 kills and hit .467, Duke (17-11, 9-8) won in four at Boston College (6-21, 3-14) as four players had 11 or more kills, Florida State (15-10, 9-8) won in four at Virginia Tech (9-19, 3-14), and Syracuse (18-12, 10-7) held off visiting Wake Forest (12-17, 4-13) in four.

Kansas beats Texas Tech: In the only Big 12 match of the day, the No. 16 Jayhawks (22-6, 11-4) snapped a two-match skid by winning 27-25, 25-14, 22-25, 25-22 in Lubbock.

Kentucky keeps pace in SEC: The No. 6 Wildcats (23-3, 14-1) are a half-game behind idle No. 3 Florida after beating Georgia 25-22, 25-22, 25-9. UK hit .387, led by Avery Skinner, who had 13 kills and hit. 500. She had two blocks. Leah Edmond added 12 kills, two aces and 12 digs and Kaz Brown had 10 kills, hit .667, and had four blocks, one solo. Georgia (18-10, 8-7) got 11 kills from T’ara Ceasar, who had five digs and a solo block.

Third-place Missouri (18-10, 11-4) won in four at Mississippi State as Kira Larson had 18 kills, hit .545, and had eight digs and four blocks. Also in the SEC, South Carolina beat visiting Alabama in four and Tennessee did the same to Ole Miss.

Wichita State, Cal Poly win, Creighton loses: Wichita State (25-3, 17-0) stayed unbeaten in the American Athletic by sweeping Tulsa 25-19, 25-12, 25-15. Tabitha Brown had 15 kills and hit .478 as the Shockers clinched at least a tie for the AAC regular-season title.

The Mustangs won the Big West title outright with their 19-25, 25-13, 25-21, 25-17 victory to improve to 25-2, 15-0 as Torrey Van Winden had 21 kills, hit .474 and had 14 digs.

Creighton has to wait until it plays at Georgetown on Saturday to try and win the Big East outright after losing at Villanova 25-21, 26-24, 25-20. Creighton is 22-6, 15-2, while Villanova moved into fourth place at 17-11, 10-7. Jaali Winters led Creighton with 14 kills and 11 digs, while Villanova’s Allie Loitz and Amanda Peterson-Henry had 12 kills each.

America East
For the first time since 2005, the fourth seed in the America East Volleyball Championship is headed to the championship match. No. 4 Stony Brook (17-12) will meet No. 2 Binghamton (12-14) with the NCAA bid on the line.
In the first semifinal Friday, Binghamton beat second-seeded New Hampshire 25-20, 25-19, 25-23 as Gabby Alicea had 17 kills. In the nightcap, Stony Brook became the league’s first fourth seed to beat the No. 1 since 2005 when it beat Albany 25-20, 25-21, 25-20 behind 16 kills by McKyla Brooks, who hit .353 and had five solo blocks.
Atlantic 10
In Saturday’s semifinals, top-seeded VCU, riding the nation’s longest winning streak at 25 matches, gets Rhode Island, a four-set winner over Duquesne. The other semi has Dayton playing George Washington, which beat Saint Louis in five.
Atlantic Sun
The final is not until Sunday, so FGCU, which beat Jacksonville, and Kennesaw State, which beat Lipscomb, have Saturday off. FGCU won 25-20, 26-24, 25-21 and, like KSU, seeks its first ASUN title. Kennesaw State won 25-18, 20-25, 25-19, 25-23. KSU won both the previous meetings with FGCU.
Big Sky
It’s down to the top two teams, after second-seeded North Dakota (29-7) beat Idaho in four and top-seeded and host Sacramento State (26-8) beat Portland State in four.
Big South
The semifinals pit top-seeded High Point against Liberty and then the host team, second-seeded Radford, against Winthrop. Liberty swept UNC Asheville in one quarterfinal and Winthrop upset Campbell in four in the other.
Conference USA
The semifinals pit the league leaders as Western Kentucky plays Southern Miss and then North Texas against UTSA. WKU beat Charlotte in four as Rachel Anderson had 22 kills and hit .529, and North Texas ousted Marshall in five behind 18 kills from Valerie Valerian.
USM advanced with a five set win over Rice as Kylie Grandy had 18 kills and 15 digs, while UTSA beat Florida Atlantic in four behind Marijeta Runjic’s 20 kills and 11 digs.
CAA
James Madison plays Charleston for the title. JMU swept Towson as Bryn Recker had 12 kills, 11 digs and two blocks, and Charleston got past Hofstra in five behind 27 kills from Rachel Devon, who had three blocks and 15 digs.
Horizon
Sixth-seeded Northern Kentucky beat third-seeded IUPUI and will play Cleveland State, while Green Bay ousted UIC and plays Oakland. Kaelin Gentile had 20 kills and hit .515 for NKU, while Taylor Wolf had 20 kills for Green Bay, hit .349 and had 16 digs.
MAC
The semifinals have Ohio playing Miami and Bowling Green facing Western Michigan. Fourth-seeded Ohio advanced by beating Eastern Michigan as Lizzie Stephens and Tia Jimerson had 13 kills each, and sixth-seeded WMU upset No. 3 Ball State as Rachel Bontrager led with 19 kills.
Metro Atlantic
The semifinals have Marist vs. Fairfield and Niagara facing Iona. Iona beat Quinnipiac to advance as Claire Archibald led with 21 kills and 15 digs, while Marist beat Rider in five after being down 0-2. Nikki DeSerpa had a match-high 24 kills and added 13 digs.
Northeast
It’s down to the teams that tied for the league lead, Central Connecticut State and LIU Brooklyn. Third-seeded CCSU knocked out No. 2 Bryant in five as Madelyn Kaprelyan had 16 kills and six blocks. Second-seeded LIU — in the title match for the seventh consecutive season — beat Robert Morris in four as Ninia Petranovic had 16 kills and 11 digs.
Ohio Valley
Murray State will play Austin Peay for the title and NCAA bid. Top-seeded Austin Peay beat Eastern Kentucky in four, while third-seeded Murray State ousted Eastern Illinois in four. Brooke Moore had 22 kills for Austin Peay, while Rachel Holthaus had 15 kills while hitting .577.
Patriot League
The tourney begins Saturday with the semifinals as Lehigh plays American, and Navy faces Army.
SWAC
The semifinals pit Alabama State against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Texas Southern against Prairie View A&M. Alabama State beat Jackson State in four, Pine Bluff ousted Grambling State in four, TSU swept Southern and Prairie View swept Alabama A&M.
Southern
The semifinals start with South Carolina rivals Furman against Wofford and then UNCG plays ETSU.
Top-seeded Furman beat Mercer in four as Nicole Mack had 18 kills. Wofford upset defending-champion Samford in five as Catie Cronister had 23 kills and 16 digs.
UNCG beat Chattanooga in four as Ashley Muench had 21 kills and 15 digs. ETSU swept Western Carolina behind 12 kills and 12 digs from Rylee Milhorn.
Southland
Eighth-seeded Abilene Christian is a most unlikely semifinalist, but the Wildcats (12-17) knocked off top-seeded SFA 16-25, 25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 15-12. Lorin McNeil led with 14 kills and four blocks.
“This win is so meaningful and we feel so blessed and excited for this opportunity,” ACU coach Angela Mooney said. “We made history by getting into the tournament and knocking off the No. 1 seed … and that’s what it’s about, creating our own history in our own way.”
Now ACU faces Houston Baptist, which swept Northwestern State as Jessica Wooten had 12 kills.
The other semifinal pits Texas A&M-CC vs. second-seeded Central Arkansas. TAMUCC, the host team, beat Sam Houston State in four as it hit .327. Madeline Doud led with 15 kills while hitting .591. Central Arkansas ousted McNeese in four as Savanah Allen had 14 kills.
Summit
The semifinals are set as Denver plays North Dakota State and Oral Roberts faces South Dakota. NDSU advanced with a four-set win over Omaha as McKenzie Burke had 13 kills and 13 digs, and South Dakota beat Fort Wayne in four behind 16 kills and 18 digs from Hayley Dotseth.
Sun Belt
One semifinal matchup has Louisiana against Texas State, while the other pits Coastal Carolina and Arkansas State. Louisiana advanced by sweeping Appalachian State as Hali Wisnoskie had 12 kills. Arkansas State moved on by sweeping Troy behind 16 kills by Carlisa May.
WAC
The title tilt has fourth-seeded CSU Bakersfield playing Texas Rio Grande Valley.
CSU Bakersfield upset top-seeded NM State in four as Aleksandra Djordjevic and Briannah Mariner had 12 kills each.
UTRGV beat Utah Valley in four behind a big match from Norwegian Ragni Steen Knudsen, who had 26 kills, hit .386 and had nine digs and a block.

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