Happy Thanksgiving from VolleyballMag.com, where, for many of us, volleyball doesn’t stop on the holidays.
Especially not for the Missouri Valley Conference, because its tournament gets under way Thursday at Illinois State.
A breakdown follows, but first a look at what happened in NCAA Division I women’s college volleyball on Wednesday, when:
— Nebraska built another half-game lead atop the Big Ten, where Michigan upset Purdue;
— Texas clinched the Big 12 title outright;
— USC ensured itself of at least a tie for second place in the Pac-12;
— Kentucky got back into a first-place tie with Florida atop the SEC;
— Louisville went up by a half game atop the ACC;
— and Wichita State won not only its match but its 26th set in a row.
Huskers, Michigan, OSU, Illini win in Big Ten: No. 5 Nebraska is 25-4 overall and now tied again with idle No. 1 Penn State atop the B1G after sweeping Northwestern 25-13, 25-20, 25-21. Nebraska, which won its 10th match in a row, hit .341. Annika Albrecht led with 10 kills, four assists, an ace and three blocks, one solo. Lauren Stivrins added eight kills and four blocks and Briana Holman had seven digs in nine swings with no errors to hit .778. She added a dig and a pair of blocks.
Nebraska ends the regular season against Iowa in Lincoln on Saturday.
Northwestern (14-17, 4-15) got 12 kills from Symone Abbott, who hit .355 and had eight digs. Her team ends its season Friday at Maryland.
Michigan improved to 20-11, 10-9 in the B1G with its 23-25, 25-22, 30-28, 25-20 win at No. 15 Purdue. Michigan, which was No. 30 in this week’s RPI despite being in eighth place in the conference, has won four in a row and beat a ranked opponent for the third straight match, including Purdue just last Saturday.
Claire Kieffer-Wright led with 15 kills and hit .429. She added an ace and three blocks. Katherine Mahlke had 14 kills and Carly Skjodt had 13.
Purdue (21-9, 11-8) got 16 kills from Sherridan Atkinson, who had five digs and six blocks, one solo. Danielle Cuttino had 17 kills and six blocks, and Blake Mohler had 14 kills and three blocks.
Michigan finishes the regular season at Indiana on Friday, while Purdue plays host to No. 10 Michigan State.
Ohio State (15-15, 8-11) won at Maryland 25-18, 25-20, 21-25, 25-22. The Buckeyes, sitting at No. 42 in the RPI, had four players with 10 or more kills, led by Luisa Schirmer, who had 13, and ace and two blocks, one solo. Ashley Wenz had 12 kills, five digs and a solo block.
Maryland (17-14, 6-13) is 47th in the RPI and finishes its season with a home match Friday against Northwestern. The Terps were led by Gia Milano, who had 13 kills and eight digs. Hailey Murray had 10 kills, hit .474 and had five blocks.
Illinois swept Iowa 25-19, 25-13, 25-12 to improve to 20-10, 11-8, while dropping the Hawkeyes to 18-14, 7-12 after they hit .070. Iowa, 46 in the RPI, finishes its regular season at Nebraska on Saturday, while Illinois ends up at Ohio State.
Illinois has won two straight matches after losing three in a row.
Alli Bastianelli had 13 kills and hit .550 for the Illini to go with three digs and three blocks, one solo. Jacqueline Quade had 10 kills and three digs and Blayke Hranicka had nine kills, hit .462, and had five blocks.
Iowa’s Jess Janota had 11 kills, hit .421 and had three blocks.
Longhorns clinch Big 12: The Longhorns (23-2, 15-0 Big 12) won sole possession of the program’s 10th Big 12 title after sweeping Oklahoma 25-13, 25-15, 25-21.
“It was fun, I’m really happy that we had a sold-out crowd the day before Thanksgiving,” said UT senior Ebony Nwanebu, who had eight kills, hit .438 and had two blocks. “I think that environment plus just our teammates made tonight really special. I was bawling my eyes out before the game and I don’t really know why, but they just made it really enjoyable.”
Chiaka Ogbogu added eight kills while hitting .538 to go with three blocks and Morgan Johnson had eight kills in nine errorless swings to hit .889. She had four blocks. And Micaya White had 10 kills and three blocks.
Texas finishes the Big 12 season against No. 18 Baylor, which will finish in second place.
Oklahoma (7-21, 4-11) got 14 kills form Alyssa Enneking, who hit .400 and had five digs and a block. The Sooners end their season Saturday at home against TCU.
While West Virginia ends its season Saturday at No. 14 Kansas, Kansas State’s season ended Wednesday night with a 25-22, 27-25, 25-18 home loss to WVa. The Mountaineers (17-12, 5-10) got 15 kills from Morgan Montgomery, who hit .519 and had four digs and five blocks. Payton Caffrey had 13 kills, hit .400 and had three aces, 15 digs and a block.
Kylee Zumach and Alyssa Schultejeans had 14 kills each for K-State.
Big wins for USC, UW in Pac-12: They stayed in second and third, respectively, as Stanford won again and so did UCLA, Colorado and Washington State.
Start with No. 13 USC (22-8, 14-5), which won 25-19, 25-16, 19-25, 25-17 at No. 24 Oregon (16-11, 9-10). Brittany Abercrombie had another big match, getting 17 kills while hitting .469. She had four digs and two blocks. Khalia Lanier had 13 kills, three aces and four blocks, one solo. And Niki Weathers had 12 kills and Brooke Botkin seven and four blocks.
USC finishes the regular season Saturday when UCLA comes across town.
Oregon has lost four in a row. The Ducks finish the regular season at Oregon State on Friday.
Taylor Agost led the Ducks with 19 kills and added an ace and six digs. Willow Johnson had nine kills and a block and Lauren Page and Lindsey Vander Weide had seven kills each. Vander Weide had 13 digs and two blocks.
Washington (23-7, 13-6) stayed a game behind USC as the No. 12 Huskies beat visiting Arizona 25-16, 25-19, 25-17.
Washington went with a new lineup and Crissy Jones played middle and responded with nine kills in 14 errorless swings to hit .643. She had two aces, five digs and two blocks. Setter Bailey Tanner stayed in in a 5-1 and had 39 assists, a kill, three digs and three blocks.
Washington, which ends the regular season at home against Washington State on Friday, also got nine kills from Courtney Schwan, who had 10 digs and a block.
Arizona (10-18, 4-15) ends its season at home Saturday against Arizona State.
No. 4 Stanford (25-3, 18-1) beat visiting No. 15 Utah 25-19, 25-22, 25-21. Merete Lutz had 12 kills, four blocks and three digs and Kathryn Plummer had 11 kills, two aces, a block and seven digs. The Cardinal play at Cal on Saturday.
Utah (21-9, 12-7) which plays at Colorado on Friday, dropped into a tie with Washington. The Utes, who had won three in a row, got 12 kills from Adora Anae, who hit .108 and had nine digs and two blocks. Tawnee Luafalemana had 10 kills and hit .600 to go with three blocks, one solo.
No. 19 UCLA (18-10, 11-8) won at Oregon State 31-29, 25-17, 25-19 as five players had nine or more kills. Madeleine Gates had nine kills, hit .306 and had three blocks. Reily Buechler, who had 11 digs, and Mac May had 12 kills each. Jenny Mosser had 10 kills, four blocks and eight digs and Kyra Rogers had nine kills, six digs and five blocks.
Oregon State (21-10, 11-8) got 11 kills from Mary-Kate Marshall and 10 from Maddie Goings.
Colorado won at Cal 25-20, 25-18, 25-19 to get to 22 wins for the first time since 1998. CU (22-8, 12-7) got 17 kills from Frankie Shebby, who had an ace, eight digs and three blocks, one solo. Alexa Smith added 14 kills while hitting .429 and Naghede Abu had 11 kills, hit .526 and had three blocks. The Buffs finish the regular season Friday when Utah goes to Boulder.
Cal (13-17, 4-15) got six kills from Preslie Anderson.
Washington State (17-14, 6-13) and sitting at No. 37 in the RPI, beat visiting Arizona State (10-21, 0-19) 25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 25-21. Taylor Mims had a big night with 24 kills, two aces, two blocks and six digs. Ella Lajos added 14 kills, hit .478 and had five blocks. The Cougars go to Washington on Saturday.
ASU has one chance to avoid finishing winless in the league when it plays Arizona.
Cards deal themselves the ACC lead: With Pitt idle, Louisville beat Boston College 25-20, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20 to improve to 23-6 overall and 17-2 in the ACC, a half-game ahead of Pitt. The Cardinals can clinch at least a tie when they play at Syracuse on Friday. Melanie McHenry led with 16 kills. She had 12 digs and two blocks, one solo. Amanda Green and Tess Clark had nine kills each.
BC (7-22, 4-15) ends its season Friday when Notre Dame visits. Lynn Braakhuis led with 17 kills and 16 digs.
NC State (19-11, 14-5) lost its third in a row and now is three games back with one to play, falling into a tie with Miami (20-5, 14-5) for third place. Duke (18-12, 10-9) beat NC State in five as three players — Payton Schwantz, Cadie Bates and Samantha Amos — had 14 kills each. Bates had 22 digs. NC State got 19 kills from Julia Brown, who had 15 digs and four blocks, one solo.
Also in ACC on Wednesday, Florida State swept Clemson, Virginia Tech beat Virginia in five, Miami won at Georgia Tech in five, Syracuse beat visiting Notre Dame in five and Wake Forest beat visiting North Carolina in four. Jemma Yeadon had 27 kills for Notre Dame. Olga Strantzali had 22 kills for Miami, three aces, four blocks and six digs. Kylie Long had 25 kills for Wake to go with 10 digs and a block.
Florida, Kentucky keep pace in SEC: The No. 3 Gators (24-1) won in four against visiting Auburn, while No. 6 Kentucky (25-3) swept at Arkansas, leaving both at 16-1. Florida finishes up the regular season on Saturday at third-place Missouri, while Kentucky plays Friday at Georgia.
And speaking of Georgia, the Bulldogs (20-10, 10-7) swept LSU (19-9, 10-7) on its home court Wednesday night to pull into a fourth-place tie with the Tigers. It’s worth noting that Georgia, under first-year coach Tom Black, had won a total of six SEC games the past three seasons, five in 2014, none in 2015 and one last year.
Florida beat Auburn 22-25, 25-10, 25-16, 25-22 with 63 kills in four sets, tying the school best. Carli Snyder led with 21 kills, hitting .432. She had 10 digs and a block. Rhamat Alhassan had 13 kills, hit .370 and had six blocks, three solo. Rachael Kramer had 12 kills, hit .522 and Shainah Joseph had 10 kills, hit .391 and had seven digs.
Auburn (15-11, 8-9) got 13 kills from Macy Reece, who hit .400 and had five digs. Brenna McIlroy had 10 kills and 14 digs.
Kentucky won at Arkansas 25-16, 25-17, 25-23 as Leah Edmond had 21 kills while hitting .452. Avery Skinner had 11 kills and Kaz Brown eight and five blocks, one solo.
Arkansas (18-11, 8-9) finishes up Saturday at home against Auburn. Pilar Victoria led the Hogs with 17 kills and 11 digs.
Georgia got 15 kills from T’ara Ceasar, who had nine digs. Majesti Bass added 10 kills and four blocks. LSU hit just .077. Taylor Bannister led with eight kills, two digs and two blocks. The Tigers play at Tennessee on Friday.
Missouri (20-10, 13-4) beat Alabama 25-15, 25-18, 25-20 for its third win in a row and eighth in nine matches. Melanie Crow led with 12 kills while hitting .476. She had three blocks, one solo. Sydney Deeken added nine kills and Kira Larson eight and four blocks. Alabama (18-13, 6-11) hit .043.
Also in the SEC, Texas A&M won in four at Mississippi State, and Ole Miss beat visiting South Carolina in four.
Wichita State rolls on: The Shockers (27-3 overall, 19-0 American Athletic), who moved up to No. 9 in this week’s RPI, won at Memphis 25-18, 25-10, 25-15. The end the regular season by playing Memphis again, this time at home, on Friday. Abbie Lehman led WSU with 16 kills, hitting .696, and had five blocks. Mikaela Raudsepp had 14 kills and hit .500.
Missouri Valley tourney begins: Fourth-seed Drake plays No. 5 Indiana State with the winner getting top-seeded Missouri State in Friday’s semifinals. In the second quarterfinal, third-seeded Illinois State faces sixth-seeded Valparaiso with the winner getting No. 2 Northern Iowa in the second semifinal. The final is at 4 p.m. Central on Saturday. All the matches can been on ESPN3.