Penn St. rallies to beat Wisconsin, St. John’s upsets Creighton, more NCAA bids on line Saturday

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NCAA volleyball 11/30/2019-Tori Gorrell-Penn State volleyball
Penn State's Tori Gorrell powers past the block of Wisconsin's Sydney Hilley Mark Selders photo

Fifth-ranked Wisconsin dominated the first two sets at Penn State. 

Then the No. 7 Nittany Lions stormed back and came away with a 19-25, 15-25, 25-12, 25-22, 15-11 stunning home victory that left both teams tied for first in the Big Ten.

That could change Saturday, because there’s no rest as the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball regular season ends. Eighth-ranked Minnesota visits Penn State, while Wisconsin finishes up at Rutgers.

There was a huge upset in the Big East tournament semifinals, as St. John’s swept No. 10 Creighton and is back in the final — and will play No. 12 Marquette — for the first time since winning it in 2007.

Among the other winners Friday were No. 3 Stanford and No. 23 UCLA in the Pac-12, and Minnesota and No. 17 Purdue in the Big Ten.

The recaps follow, but first a look at the final regular-season matches of the 2019 season.

The Big Ten not only has Minnesota at Penn State and Wisconsin at Rutgers, but also No. 6 Nebraska home for Ohio State, No. 24 Illinois at Northwestern, Indiana at Michigan State, and Maryland at Iowa.

The Big 12 schedule has No. 1 Baylor home for TCU, No. 4 Texas at Iowa State, Kansas State at Texas Tech and Kansas at West Virginia.

The three matches in the Pac-12 have No. 9 Washington home for No. 25 Washington State, No. 17 Utah at Colorado, and Arizona State at Arizona.

In the SEC both ranked teams, tied for the lead, are at home as No. 14 Kentucky entertains Ole Miss and Florida plays host to Texas A&M. LSU goes to Missouri, Auburn is at Alabama, and Tennessee is at Mississippi State.

The final ACC match has NC State at Boston College.

Three conference championships — and the NCAA Tournament automatic bids that go with them — will be decided.

As mentioned, in the Big East, second-seeded Marquette faces fourth-seeded St. John’s.

The Big Sky title comes down to top-seeded Northern Colorado and No. 2 Weber State.

In the Missouri Valley, top-seeded Northern Iowa plays third-seeded Illinois State.

And there’s a non-conference match when the the Mountain West’s Colorado State, ranked No.11, goes to the Summit League’s Denver.

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Big Ten: Penn State (24-4, 17-2) picked it up in all facets of the game after going down 0-2 and put Wisconsin (21-6, 17-2) on its heels the rest of the way. The outcome might have kept Wisconsin from being a top-four NCAA Tournament seed and might have gotten Penn State into the top 16, which means it would be first- and second-round host.

The Nittany Lions, who won their seventh match in a row, got 13 kills each from Serena Gray and Tori Gorrell, 12 from Jonni Parker and 11 from Kaitlyn Hord. Gray hit .333 and had an ace, three digs and five blocks, one solo. Gorrell hit .357 and had an ace, four blocks and two digs. Parker, while hitting .085, had three assists, two aces, four blocks and 10 digs. Hord had no errors in 17 attacks and hit .647 to go with an assist and six blocks, one solo. Setter Gabby Blossom had five kills in 11 attempts and hit .364, had 48 assists, an ace, 10 digs and two blocks, one solo.

Molly Haggerty had 16 kills to lead Wisconsin and hit .316, had four blocks and two digs. Dana Rettke had 15 kills, hit .314, and had three digs and a career-high 13 blocks, one solo. Her previous best was 11, set at Penn State last year. Grace Loberg had 11 kills but hit .028 and had two blocks. Setter Sydney Hilley had a kill, 53 assists, five blocks and 11 digs.

In the fourth set, Penn State took a 7-0 lead, but Wisconsin climbed back into it and went ahead 14-13. Penn State regained the lead for good at 20-19. In the fifth, Penn State held the upper hand from the start, but Wisconsin closed to 12-10 before the Nittany Lions closed it out.

“When you’re playing as well as what we were early on and dominating the score, really good teams won’t lay down – they’re going to fight. They jumped up and got some points right out of the gate in the third and I thought some of our players’ demeanors changed, like they were expecting this to be easy,” Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield said.

“We lost our courage behind the service line and (Penn State) was really in system the second part of the match. I thought a switch happened where we were playing not to lose instead of going after it and winning, and when that happens you’re going to get stung.”

Penn State hit .241 and Wisconsin .221. Penn State had six aces and 10 errors, while Wisconsin had an ace and four errors.

It was the second time this season Penn State came back from 0-2 to win a match after doing so against Illinois on October 23, also at home …

Minnesota (22-5, 16-3) had 15 aces in its 25-14, 25-15, 25-22 sweep at Rutgers (8-22, 2-17). Airi Miyabe led with 13 kills, hit .524, and had two of those aces, two blocks and six digs. Regan Pittman had six kills in nine errorless swings and had six aces and three blocks, two solo …

Nebraska (24-4, 16-3) made short work of visiting Maryland (13-18, 5-14) as Lexi Sun and Jazz Sweet had 10 kills each and Madi Kubik nine in the 25-20, 25-15, 25-18 victory. Sun, who hit .304, had two aces, three blocks and nine digs. Erika Pritchard had 12 kills, an ace, four blocks and a dig for Maryland … 

Purdue (22-7, 14-6) won 19-25, 25-21, 17-25, 25-20, 15-11 at Michigan State (14-15, 5-14) as Caitlyn Newton had 18 kills, an assist, an ace, a block and eight digs. Grace Cleveland had 17 kills, hit .351, and had two aces and six blocks, one solo. Jael Johnson had eight kills in 10 errorless attacks and had five blocks. Hayley Bush had five kills and hit .500 and had 46 assists, an ace, two blocks and four digs. Purdue hit .197.

Michigan State’s Biamba Kabengele had 18 kills and a block, and Naya Gros and Molly Johnson had nine kills each. Gros hit .421 and had an assist and four blocks, one solo …

No. 22 Michigan (20-10, 13-7) ended its regular season with a 25-12, 23-25, 25-19, 25-23 over visiting Indiana (14-18, 3-16) in which the Wolverines hit .421.

Sydney Wetterstrom had 20 kills, hit .563, and had two aces and eight digs. Katarina Glavinic had 13 kills, hit .545 and had three blocks and a dig. Paige Jones had 12 kills, an ace, three blocks and 11 digs. Cori Crocker had nine kills, hit .400, and had an assist, two blocks and two digs. Setter Mackenzi Welsh had four kills, 55 assists, an ace, six digs and three blocks, one solo.

Kamryn Malloy had 18 kills for Indiana and added two assists, two aces and seven digs. Hayden Huybers had 12 kills and hit .476 and had a dig and two blocks, one solo. Emily Fitzner had two kills in four errorless tries, 43 assists and a solo block …

And Ohio State (12-14, 5-9) won 23-25, 25-19, 25-11, 25-19 at Iowa (9-21, 3-16). Gabby Gonzalez led with 19 kills and hit .459 and added two assists, eight digs and two blocks. Madison Smeathers had 13 kills, hit .303, and had two assists, three digs and three blocks, and Mac Podraza and Jenaisya Moore had 12 kills each. Podraza hit .688, had 16 assists, a dig and four blocks. Courtney Buzzerio had 14 kills and hit .344 to lead Iowa. She had 18 assists, 13 digs and two blocks.

NCAA volleyball 11/30/2019-USC volleyball-Khalia Lanier
USC senior Khalia Lanier hits out of the back row/Jim Wolf photography

Pac-12: Stanford (24-4, 18-2) put a punctuation point on its championship season with a 23-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-21 victory over visiting Cal (20-10, 10-10). 

Audriana Fitzmorris led Stanford with 16 kills and hit .333 to with a dig and four blocks. Kathryn Plummer had 13 kills but hit .083 and had an ace and eight digs. Meghan McClure had 12 kills, hit .385, and had three assists, six blocks and 11 digs. Holly Campbell had 10 kills, hit .348 and had five blocks and a dig. Setter Jenna Gray had six kills in nine errorless attempts to hit .667, had 46 assists, and added three blocks and seven digs.

Preslie Anderson led Cal with 13 kills and hit .444. She had two assists, five blocks and a dig. Mima Mirkovic had nine kills, an assist, two blocks and nine digs …

Mac May had 17 kills and hit .424 as UCLA (18-11, 13-7) won 25-22, 25-17, 28-26) at USC (18-11, 13-7). May, who had three aces, also had 14 digs and a block. Jenny Mosser had nine kills, an assist, two digs and three blocks, and Emily Ryan had six kills and six blocks, three solo. USC, which hit .145, got 11 kills from Khalia Lanier and 10 from Brooke Botkin. Lanier, who hit .064, had an ace and four digs. Botkin hit .304 and had three assists, six digs and two blocks. Emilia Weske had nine kills and five blocks and Madison Horin had six blocks, one solo …

Oregon (9-20, 5-15) finished a tough season with a 23-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-15 win over visiting Oregon State (9-22, 3-17), which lost its last 11 matches.

Ronika Stone led Oregon with 16 kills and hit .361. She had an ace, five digs and seven blocks. Willow Johnson had 14 kills, hit .333, and had two aces, five digs and six blocks. Brooke Nuneviller, who had 21 digs, and Karson Bacon had 11 kills each. Bacon had no errors in 19 attacks and hit .579 and had seven blocks. 

Maddie Goings had 19 kills for Oregon State and had eight digs and three blocks, two solo. Haylie Bennett had 10 kills, hit .350, and had two blocks and four digs. Serena Bruin had nine kills, hit .318, and had two digs and four blocks, two solo.

ACC: Georgia Tech (21-8, 14-4) swept Miami (10-16, 6-12) and with the 25-21, 25-19, 25-18 sweep finished in sole possession of second place. Mariana Brambilla and Julia Bergmann had 10 kills, while Janice Leao had 10 kills for Miami … 

While Georgia Tech will be on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame (19-9, 12-6) beat Duke ( (11-19, 5-13). Notre Dame and the two teams it tied for third, idle Florida State and Louisville, will all get bids. Notre Dame’s Charley Niego had 20 kills and 20 digs in the 25-17, 25-17, 22-25, 25-10 victory. She hit .415, had an assist and two aces. Caroline Meuth had 17 kills, 15 digs and three blocks, and Sydney Bent had 16 kills, hit .344 and had five digs and a block. Ade Owokoniran had 15 kills and hit .464 for Duke. She had a dig and three blocks. Payton Schwantz had 12 kills, two assists, two blocks and 21 digs … 

Kaity Smith had 24 kills as Virginia Tech (11-20, 4-14) ended with a five-set win over visiting North Carolina (15-13, 12-6). Smith added two aces and 12 digs in the 25-21, 23-25, 25-9, 23-25, 15-11 victory. Marisa Cerchio had 13 kills, hit .321, and had a block, and Talyn Jackson had 10 kills with no errors in 21 swings to hit .476 and had 46 assists, an ace and 16 digs.

Lauren Harrison led UNC with 16 kills, an ace and 12 digs. Destiny Cox had 13 kills, a block and a dig, and Skyy Howard had 10 kills, hitting .321.

MCAA volleyball 11/30/2019-Creighton volleyball-Jaela Zimmerman
Creighton’s Jaela Zimmerman hits against the St. John’s block of Ariadni Kathariou, left, and Maria Placios/Steve Woltmann, BIG EAST

Big East: Marquette not only will get an NCAA bid, but will be a first- and second-round host. But St. John’s, 87th in the RPI, has everything on the line. 

St. John’s (21-11) stunned Creighton (24-5) 25-17, 25-23, 26-24 despite hitting .188. Rachelle Rastelli led with 13 kills, an assist and a block. Efrosini Alexakou had 10 kills but hit .028. She had an assist, an ace, a block and 12 digs. Klara Mikelova had nine kills, 11 digs and a block.

Creighton, which may have cost itself a chance to be an NCAA host, had been the only team to win a league tournament each of the last five seasons. The Bluejays hit .098. Jaela Zimmerman led with 14 kills to go with an ace, a block and nine digs. Keeley Davis had nine kills, an ace and 13 digs …

Marquette (27-4) swept Villanova (22-9) as the Eagles hit .354. Allie Barber had 16 kills, hit .345, and had two blocks and a dig in the 25-22, 25-18, 25-19 victory. Hannah Vanden Berg had 11 kills and seven digs, and Hope Werch had eight kills, hit .313, and had an assist, an ace and 11 digs.

Mallory Potts had 12 kills and hit .524 for Villanova, which hit .310 as a team. Clare Delaplane had nine kills, an assist, two blocks and five digs. 

Kaylee Martin of Illinois State hits past the block of Loyola’s Heather Kocken, left, and Ellie Van Grinsven/MVC photo

Missouri Valley: Northern Iowa (24-9) and Illinois State (21-11, 11-6) split their regular-season matches. Saturday they play for the title, and while UNI stands No. 40 in the RPI and is probably in, Illinois State (95) needs to win to get the automatic bid.

UNI, which won for the 12th time in a row, ousted Valparaiso (14-20) 25-9, 25-20, 20-25, 25-17. Karlie Taylor led with 15 kills, four blocks and 14 digs, and Kate Busswitz, Inga Rotto and Kaylissa Arndorfer, who had six blocks, had 11 kills each. Rachel Koop had two kills in four errorless attempts, 50 assists, two aces, a block and 13 digs. Haley Hart had 11 kills for Valpo, which hit .076 …

Illinois State (21-11) won its seventh in a row, an 18-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-20 victory over Loyola (21-11, 14-4). Kaylee Martin led with 13 kills, a block and six digs. Sarah Kushner had 111 kills and 16 digs and Sydney Holt had 10 kills, three blocks and four digs. Setter Stef Jakiewicz had four kills, 40 assists, seven digs and six blocks, one solo. Her team won despite hitting .141, but Loyola hit .094.

Heather Kocken led Loyola with 11 kills, hit .400, and had a block and two digs. Addie Barnes had 10 kills, two aces, two blocks and 10 digs.

Big Sky: Top-seeded Northern Colorado, which won the league by four games, plays second-seeded Weber State for the automatic bid.

UNC (25-7) beat Montana State (15-14) 29-27, 25-22, 22-25, 25-22 as Taylor Muff had 18 kills, two assists, a solo block and 21 digs. Kailey Jo Ince had 18 kills, six digs and two blocks, one solo. Lauren Hinrichs had nine kills, hit .304, and had an assist, a block and three digs.

Montana State’s Evi Wilson had 20 kills, hit .372, and had an assist, an ace, two blocks, and 17 digs. Kira Thomsen had 12 kills, two assists, an ace, eight digs and five blocks, one solo. Allie Lynch had seven kills, 36 assists, three aces, three blocks and eight digs.

UNC, which has won 11 matches in a row, took both matches against Weber State this season …

Weber State (24-7) swept Northern Arizona (21-11) as Rylin Roberts had 14 kills, hit .306, and had two aces and 16 digs in the 25-21, 25-15, 25-21 victory. Megan Gneiting had 10 kills, hit .320, and had an assist, an ace, five blocks and five digs. Dany Nay had 10 kills, four blocks and a dig. Aubrey Adams had nine kills, hit .333, and had four blocks and five digs.

Taylor Jacobsen had 10 kills, an ace, three blocks and nine digs for NAU.

SEC: There was only one match as South Carolina (19-11, 11-7) beat visiting Arkansas (11-19, 5-13) 25-19, 25-18, 25-22. Mikayla Shields led with 17 kills, she hit .570, and added an assist, two aces, three blocks and six digs. Brittany McLean had 10 kills, an assist, two blocks and a dig.

South Carolina was ranked 41 in the last NCAA RPI and hopes for an at-large bid.

Devyn Wheeler led Arkansas with 10 kills, hit .600, and had four blocks. Jillian Gillen had nine kills, an ace, a block and 10 digs.

North Texas beats SMU: North Texas of Conference USA (17-12) beat SMU of the American Athletic Conference (18-10) 25-15, 25-22, 14-25, 29-27. Rhett Robinson had 18 kills and hit .326 for UNT and had six blocks and four digs. Valerie Valerian had 14 kills, two aces and 15 digs, and Barbara Teakell had 13 kills, three assists, a block and 16 digs. Kailyn O’Neal had two kills, 38 assists, two blocks and 15 digs.

Hannah Jacobs and Mekenzi Heckmann had 14 kills each for SMU.

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