NCAA: 7 unbeatens, more surprises as teams wind down pre-conference play

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Good luck to the AVCA Poll voters.

The mess (five ranked teams lost on Friday) that is NCAA Division I women’s college volleyball had plenty of more twists and turns Saturday as most teams wrapped up pre-conference play.

To wit:

Northern Iowa, knocking on the poll’s door, beat No. 10 Nebraska, but then lost in five to Kansas State.

Colorado State, ranked No. 22, had won 10 in a row after sweeping Xavier on Saturday, but then lost to in five to Colorado.

No. 18 Iowa State beat No. 8 Creighton in five, a day after the once high-flying Bluejays — who lost their setter — lost to once-ranked Wichita State. Which plays Iowa State on Sunday …

You get the idea.

There are seven unbeaten teams left in Division I and a few others are making some big moves.

All that and more, but first a quick look at Sunday’s slate:

As mentioned, Iowa State plays Wichita State. Louisville has a tough one when Kennesaw State visits, and No. 17 Purdue plays host to Loyola Chicago. Sunday actually marks the second day of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play. The league has four matches on tap, including perennial favorite Fairfield, which is 1-0 after beating Iona in five on Saturday, at Manhattan.

Big Ten: Three remain undefeated

That would be top-ranked Minnesota (11-0), which swept Idaho State, No. 2 Penn State (10-0), which swept Wake Forest and Ohio, and No. 5 Wisconsin (9-0), which swept Southern Miss.

Indiana and Maryland are 11-1, Iowa is 11-2, No. 15 Purdue is 9-1, Iowa is 11-2 and No. 21 Michigan and Northwestern stand 10-2. No. 23 Michigan State is 7-2, No. 10 Nebraska 6-3 and No. 25 Ohio State 7-4. Only Rutgers is below .500 at 5-7.

Nebraska lost to Northern Iowa 25-20, 25-23, 14-25, 25-21 but came back and beat Omaha 26-24, 25-15, 25-13. Against UNI, Annika Albrecht had 15 kills and 10 digs while hitting .314, and Mikaela Foecke had 12 kills and 12 digs.

UNI got 15 kills each from Bri Weber and Karlie Taylor, who had 15 digs. It was the fourth time this season the Panthers beat a ranked team (then-No. 18 USC, then No. 19 Missouri and then-No. 19 Iowa State) and first victory ever over Nebraska. For that matter, since they started playing in 1977, UNI had only taken one set off Nebraska before Saturday.

Also in the Big Ten on Saturday, Stephanie Samedy had 15 kills and hit .400 for Minnesota against Idaho State … Lauryn Gillis had 11 kills in Wisconsin’s sweep of Southern Miss, which hit -.043 … In Penn State’s win over Wake Forest Simone Lee led with 10 kills and hit .818 and then Lee led with 12 kills while hitting .500 with nine digs against Ohio …

Indiana entered the day 10-0 but lost 22-25, 25-19, 25-15, 19-25, 15-17 to Samford before bouncing back and beating Florida Gulf Coast 15-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-22, 15-10.

“Our resiliency was really good tonight,” Indiana coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan said. “We got thumped in the first set and you wonder how a young team is going to respond. I could not have asked them to respond better. We played 10 sets today and we probably played our best set in the 10th set.”

Pac-12: Nine teams 9-2 or better

There are no unbeatens, but the preseason records are impressive and every team in the league is over .500.

Washington State is 11-1, Colorado and No. 7 Washington are 10-1, No. 11 Oregon is 7-1, both Arizona State and Oregon State at 10-2, while Cal and No. 16 Utah are 9-2. Fourth-ranked Stanford and No. 13 UCLA are 7-2, while No. 18 USC is 8-3 and Arizona is 6-3 after getting swept by Illinois State.

Colorado won twice Saturday, first sweeping Albany and then beating Colorado State on its home floor 21-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-14, 15-8. It was Colorado’s first win in Moby Arena since 1995. It was also the first loss to another in-state team for CSU coach Tom Hilbert after 51 victories.

Alexa Smith led the Buffs with 25 kills, hit .310 and had 15 digs. Frankie Shebby added 16 kills and 11 digs. Sanja Cizmic led Colorado State (10-2) with 16 kills and seven digs.

Stanford got 20 kills from Kathryn Plummer, who hit .432, in its 25-22, 28-26, 25-13 win over Saint Mary’s. Meghan McClure had nine kills, 11 digs, three blocks and three aces.

And, as you might expect, Boise State had a letdown after nearly beating Minnesota on Friday and fell to Oregon State on Saturday 25-21, 25-16, 25-20. Mary-Kate Marshall led with 16 kills and 12 digs.

ACC: FSU finally plays again, Irish get to 10-1

Florida State (6-1) played for the first time in two weeks and the No. 20 Seminoles beat Auburn in five. No. 24 North Carolina bounced back with a five-set win over Coastal Carolina.

Miami is the only unbeaten at 6-0. But the aptly named Hurricanes haven’t played since beating Florida Gulf Coast on September 2. They lost five matches to Hurricane Irma and are in action Friday when they open ACC play at Virginia Tech.

Notre Dame has everyone’s attention at 10-1 but no one else blew it out in the preason.

Duke is 8-3, Wake Forest 8-4, Syracuse 8-5, and Pittsburgh 6-4. Louisville is 5-4, Virginia Tech is 6-5, Georgia Tech 5-5 and then four teams are below .500. NC State is 5-6, Clemson 5-7, North Carolina 3-5, Virginia 4-7 and Boston College 3-7.

Milica Kubura had 19 kills and hit .333 to lead Florida State past Auburn 25-19, 18-25, 27-25, 19-25, 15-12. Natasha Calkins added 18 kills.

“I think it did hurt us a bit to not play the last two weeks, it’s just different to have those matches to play versus just practicing,” FSU coach Chris Poole said. “Hopefully this gets us fired up again in the right way.”

Auburn is 7-2. Macy Reese led with 14 kills and Shaina White added 13.

“It was a hard-fought match for both teams today,” said Auburn’s Rick Nold, whose Tigers have had a strong preseason. “We both went on a lot of runs and I like how we fought back towards the end of the match. Unfortunately, we became undisciplined at the end and let it slip away.”

Notre Dame beat Central Michigan 25-17, 25-18, 25-16 and now has the most regular-season non-conference wins since getting 11 in 2005.

Madison Cruzado had five aces and five digs. Jemma Yeadon led with 19 kills, nine digs and four blocks.

“There were lessons along the way in every match. We are going to continue to learn. We did what we were supposed to do in the preseason and now we have to keep getting better when we start the ACC,” ND coach Jim McLaughlin said. “I like where we are at but we have to rest a little bit.”

Central Michigan, 8-4, got 11 kills from Paige Carey.

UNC, badly in need of victories and confidence after losing to Loyola Marymount in five on Friday, beat Coastal Carolina 25-22, 21-25, 25-18, 18-25, 15-8. Taylor Leath led with 19 kills and hit .341 and also had 13 digs.

Big 12: Strong preseason for most

Just Oklahoma (3-9) is below .500 in a league that has nine teams. Iowa State is 8-1, with its only loss early last week to UNI. No. 9 Kansas, Texas Tech — already ahead of its 2016 win total — and West Virginia are 11-2. No. 6 Texas is 7-2, Baylor is 10-3, TCU is 8-3 and K-State is 7-6.

Iowa State got a big lift in its 25-21, 22-25, 25-16, 19-25, 15-8 win over Creighton at Wichita State from freshman middle Avery Rhodes, who made the most of her first start with seven kills. She hit .357 and had 10 blocks, two solo. Taryn Kloth led Creighton (7-4) with 15 kills. The Bluejays were without setter Lydia Dimke, the Big East player of the year.

Texas Tech beat Clemson and South Carolina, both in four sets. Emily Hill had a combined 26 kills … Baylor beat St. John’s and UTSA and senior outside Katie Staiger moved into first place on the school’s all-time kills list. She passed Katie Sanders, who had 1,547 from 2006-09, and heads into Big 12 play with 1,570. Staiger had 20 kills against St. John’s and hit .447 and against UTSA had 14 kills, hit .312 and had 15 digs.

“We looked a little fatigued finishing (against UTSA),” Baylor coach Ryan McGuyre said. “I’m not going to lie, I was feeling it myself going into it. It’s been a long two weeks with long travel and so much to work on, so we’re just trying to find that balance of working on it all but keeping (the players) fresh.”

SEC: Only Florida left unbeaten

The third-ranked Gators are 7-0. Alabama is 11-2, Arkansas 10-2 and No. 12 Kentucky and LSU 9-2. Auburn and Tennessee are 7-2, Georgia is 10-3, Ole Miss 9-4, Mississippi State 9-6, South Carolina 7-5, Missouri 7-6 and Texas A&M 3-4.

Before SEC play begins, Florida plays host to Florida State on Tuesday in a match that was postponed because of Hurricane Irma.

Saturday, Florida got 12 blocks from senior middle Rhamat Alhassan as the Gators beat Lipscomb 25-20, 25-16, 19-25, 25-16. Alhassan also had 10 kills. Senior Carli Snyder led with 19 kills and had three blocks, two aces and 11 digs. It’s Florida’s best start since 2007.

Lipscomb, 6-6, got 17 kills and 16 digs from Carlyle Nusbaum.

Kentucky beat Kennesaw State 25-17, 24-26, 25-15, 25-19 as Leah Edmond had 19 kills, Kaz Brown had 14 and Emily Franklin 10.

Kennesaw, 6-2, got 13 kills from Anaiah Boyer and 12 from Maddie Jones. Its only other loss was to UC Irvine, which now stands 12-1.

LSU opened its home schedule with a 26-24, 25-13, 25-19 sweep on Houston as Taylor Bannister, Olivia Beyer and Gina Tillis had eight kills each … Arkansas rallied to beat SMU 25-17, 23-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-13 and the remarkable Pilar Victoria had 31 kills, her third 30-kill match of the season.

Around the nation: You can’t top the UCI website headline: HOT, HOT, ZOT! – UC IRVINE IMPROVES TO 12-1 WITH 3-0 WIN OVER CSU BAKERSFIELD

The Anteaters recorded their fifth consecutive sweep. Harlee Kekauoha had 13 kills with no errors and hit .650 in the 25-21, 25-21, 25-11 victory. UCI, off to the program’s best start, opens Big West play at Hawai’i on Friday … Another Big West team, Cal Poly, is 10-2 after sweeping Green Bay …

Northern Iowa is 10-4 after its split.  After the high of beating Nebraska, the Panthers came back and lost to K-State 25-22, 24-26, 29-27, 23-25, 15-6.

“When you play three physical teams in a 24-hour period you hope there’s enough left in the tank,” UNI assistant coach Kalani Mahi said. “Unfortunately, you get in the fifth set and they get ahead of us and we couldn’t side out.”

No. 14 BYU beat Utah Valley 25-21, 22-25, 26-24, 25-17 and is 11-1. Veronica Jones-Perry led with 23 kills and five digs …

VCU won twice Saturday, beating Seton Hall in five and then sweeping Northwestern to get to 13-2. Against Northwestern, Vicky Giommarini had 12 kills. It was the school’s first win over a Big Ten opponent …

By the way, the other undefeated teams besides Minnesota, Penn State, Wisconsin, Miami and Florida are Towson and James Madison. JMU is 9-0 but hasn’t played since September 9. It was supposed to be at the Miami/FIU tournament that was canceled.  Towson is 14-0 after sweeping Kent State and Oakland.

Tulane is 11-2 after sweeping both Alabama State and North Florida … Central Arkansas is 11-1 after holding off Tulsa in five … North Texas is 12-1. The Mean Green beat Jackson State in three …

Campbell has won four in a row, including wins over Delaware State and Maryland Eastern Shore on Saturday, to get to 10-4 … Big South mate Elon is also 10-4 after beating NC Central and Norfolk State …

Austin Peay is 11-2. The Governors beat Presbyterian and Jacksonville on Saturday … Lily Johnson became Missouri State’s all-time kills leader as the senior outside had 16 in a five-set win over Tennessee State. Earlier, she had 27 in a five-set loss to Illinois …

North Dakota is 15-2. It beat IUPUI i25-18, 19-25, 25-20, 27-25, 15-8 as Faith Dooley had 18 kills and Ashley Brueggeman had 17.

“Winning is like pizza,” UND coach Mark Pryor said. “Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. Today was a real gut check for us. It was a quick turnaround from last night, and yesterday was an emotional roller coaster for this group.

“When it was time to finish, they did. Twelve kills and zero errors in a deciding set five says a lot about how our team can play.”

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