NCAA: B1G wins for Nebraska, Michigan St., Wisconsin falls, UCLA bounces back

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Minnesota's Stephanie Samedy swings against Michigan on Friday night/Minnesota photo

If you had any doubts that the 2017 NCAA Division I women’s college volleyball season was going to be unpredictable, they should be gone after Friday night.

Need proof? The Big Ten alone should settle it.

No. 14 Nebraska went to Penn State and swept the previously unbeaten No. 2 Nittany Lions in the league opener for both.

Unranked Michigan State went to Wisconsin and did the same to the previously unbeaten No. 5 Badgers.

Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield summed up what this season will be like in the B1G.

“It’s adversity. Those games to me are really fun because you can learn a lot about each other in those moments. I really enjoy those games,” Sheffield said.

“And obviously, that’s not the result we want, but this is going to be a huge loss for us and luckily we get another shot at them in a few weeks, so we’ll be able to show the adjustments we’ve made. That’s the Big Ten—battles like that happen every single night. I know that, and it’s my job as a leader and a senior to make sure that it’s OK when these things happen, but we need to learn and get better for it going forward.”

In the Pac-12, No. 11 UCLA beat visiting No. 8 Oregon.

In the SEC, upstarts LSU and Georgia, who had a combined five league wins in 2016, won their respective conference openers in sweeps.

For that matter, now just five teams remain unbeaten and two of them — No. 3 Florida and James Madison — didn’t play. The others are top-ranked Minnesota, Miami, and Towson, which is now 15-0. The aptly named Miami Hurricanes hadn’t played in almost three weeks.

All the recaps and more, but first a look at Saturday’s NCAA scoreboard, which lists 107 matches.

VBM’s listing of every NCAA Division I match that will be on TV or streamed can be found here.

In the Big Ten, Penn State has to bounce back in a hurry when Iowa, coming off a sweep of Rutgers, comes to town. Nebraska goes to Rutgers, Maryland goes to Indiana, Illinois is upstate at Northwestern, and Ohio State goes to No. 13 Purdue.

The Pac-12 has just one match as Washington State goes to Arizona.

The Big 12, idle Friday, sees No. 6 Texas at West Virginia, No. 18 Iowa State playing host to Oklahoma, and Baylor at TCU.

Neither the ACC nor SEC play volleyball on football Saturdays.

The West Coast Conference has No. 9 BYU at San Francisco and No. 17 San Diego at Santa Clara. Also Pacific is at Gonzaga, Pepperdine goes to Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary’s plays at Portland.

No. 23 Colorado State is at UNLV as it tries to go 2-0 in the Mountain West.

The B1G roller-coaster ride is open: Having senior setter Kelly Hunter back is no small thing. She had six kills in eight swings to hit .625 and nine digs and a block as Nebraska won at Penn State 26-24, 25-19, 25-20.

It left the Huskers 8-3 and Penn State 10-1.

Annika Albrecht had 19 kills and hit .400 and had six digs and four blocks, while Briana Holman had 13 kills with one error in 16 swings to hit .750 and also had three blocks. Nebraska, which has won seven of eight, hit .347.

Simone Lee had 15 kills and hit .308 to go with 13 digs and two blocks for Penn State. Ali Frantti added nine kills and seven blocks.

Michigan State is 8-2 after winning at Wisconsin 14-25, 25-18, 25-22, 22-25, 15-13.

Brooke Kranda led with 20 kills, four digs and four blocks. Autumn Bailey had 16 kills and a whopping 25 digs, while Holly Toliver and 12 kills for a Michigan State team that hit just .182.

“We started slow, but I really liked how our older players took charge and settled us down,” Michigan State coach Cathy George said. “The Big Ten is going to be tough every night, and with a seasoned team, we were looking for that experience to help us weather those challenges we know that we’re going to face. I’m incredibly proud of how our players executed tonight and can say that this was a really very deserved win.” 

Wisconsin (9-1) got 19 kills from Dana Rettke, who hit .412 and had five blocks, one solo. Kelli Bates added 14 kills and 12 digs and Lauryn Gillis had 10 kills. Wisconsin hit .202.

Minnesota is 12-0 after its 25-18, 25-18, 22-25, 25-8 victory, while Michigan dropped to 10-3.

The Gophers hit .336 as Alexis Hart had 20 kills and hit .341 to go with eight digs and six blocks. Stephanie Samedy had 13 kills, 14 digs and four blocks and Molly Lohman had 10 kills and a career-high 14 blocks, two solo.

Michigan, which hit just .156, got 13 kills from Carly Skjodt and 11 from Cori Crocker.

Iowa won in three at Rutgers. Its 12-2 start is the program’s best since 1994 when the Hawkeyes also started 12-2. Taylor Louis had 11 kills, hit .611 and had four digs and two blocks.

Utah, UCLA get Pac-12 victories: UCLA (8-3, 1-1) bounced back from its league-opening loss to USC by taking care of visiting Oregon 19-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-21. Madeleine Gates had a big night as the freshman had 17 kills with no errors in 29 attacks. She hit .586 and had six blocks. Setter Sarah Sponcil had 19 digs and three kills. Reily Buechler had 12 kills and hit .303 to go with 10 digs and Mac May had 12 kills and hit .391. She had two blocks and four digs.

Oregon (8-2, 1-1) saw its seven-match win streak end. Lindsey Vander Weide had 15 kills, nine digs and three blocks, while Willow Johnson added 11 kills and Taylor Agost had 10 kills and six blocks.

Utah opened league play with a 25-14, 16-25, 25-20, 25-17 victory over visiting Colorado. The Utes (10-2) got 21 kills from Adora Anae, who had 13 digs. Dani Barton and Tawnee Luafalemana had 10 kills each and Luafalemana had four blocks, one solo.

Frankie Shebby and Alexa Smith had 11 kills each and Naghede Abu 10 for Colorado (10-2). Smith had 15 digs, while Abu had five blocks, one solo, and Shebby four, one solo.

Florida State beats UVa in ACC: The league’s only ranked team won in four on a night when there were some surprising results, including NC State beating North Carolina in five and Louisville doing the same to Notre Dame.

Miami stayed unbeaten and is 7-0 after beating visiting Virginia Tech 25-20, 23-25, 25-18, 25-23 as the Hurricanes played for the first time in 20 days.

“It was great to get back on the court to compete,” Miami coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “Things were a little rusty, but the girls were consistent in their efforts and the energy was great. We definitely need to play better in a lot of areas and I believe someday soon we will.”

Junior Kolby Bird led with a career-high 17 kills and Olga Strantzali added 15 and eight digs.

No. 19 Florida State is 7-2 after beating Virginia 25-22, 25-21, 23-25, 25-14. Milica Kubura led with 20 kills. She had one error in 27 attacks and hit .704 to go with five blocks. Taryn Knuth added 13 kills as she hit .455 and Christina Ambrose had 10 kills.

Virginia (4-8) got 14 kills from Kiley Banker.

NC State beat visiting North Carolina 25-21, 25-17, 21-25, 18-25, 15-11 to break a nine-match losing streak to the Tar Heels. NC State is 6-6, while Carolina fell to 3-6.

Melissa Evans had 20 kills and hit .429 for NC State, while teammate Julia Brown had 20 kills and 15 digs. Setter Kylie Pickrell had two kills, five blocks and seven digs.

North Carolina’s Taylor Leath had 18 kills but hit .115. She had 11 digs. Beth Nordhorn had 16 kills and Taylor Fricano had five kills and seven blocks, one solo.

Also in the ACC, Duke beat Wake Forest in four, Georgia Tech swept Clemson and Pittsburgh beat Syracuse in four. It was the 100th win at Pittsburgh for coach Dan Fisher.

Olivia Beyer of LSU swings against Texas A&M/LSU photo

Sweeps for LSU, Georgia in SEC: LSU is 10-2 after dispatching visiting Texas A&M 25-20, 25-22, 25-23 as Taylor Bannister had 13 kills. Gina Tillis had 11 kills and 12 digs and Olivia Beyer had 10 kills with one error in 17 swings to hit .529. She also had four blocks as the Tigers won their league opener for the first time since 2011 and matched their 2016 home-victory total: Two.

“The most important thing is to hold serve at home and our team knows that as our goal for the remainder of the season,” LSU coach Fran Flory said. “This was a really important match for us. We had some near misses at North Carolina and Baylor. We felt like we let those matches get away and the challenge tonight was to finish the job and I think they did a great job.”

A&M, already without senior outside hitter Kiara McGee, lost senior defensive specialist Gabby Litwin to illness earlier Friday. The Aggies (3-5) hit just .139. Hollann Hans led A&M with 14 kills and four digs.

Georgia, 1-35 in SEC play the past two years, 1-17 last season, beat Alabama 25-23, 25-23, 25-20.  Both teams are 11-3.

T’ara Ceasar led with 16 kills and hit. 400, while Rachel Ritchie had 13 kills. Alabama got 12 kills from Ginger Perinar.

Also in the SEC, Auburn won at Ole Miss 25-21, 19-25, 25-17, 28-26 to improve to 8-2 as Brenna McIlroy had 15 kills and South Carolina got past Mississippi State 19-25, 25-17, 26-24, 22-25, 15-6. It was coach Scott Swanson’s 100th win at USC.

Creighton, UNI, Wichita State win:  No. 15 Creighton hit .446 as it picked up in the Big East where it left off the past two seasons with a 25-12, 25-11, 20-25, 25-11 win over visiting Georgetown. Big East player of the year Lydia Dimke is still out with an injury, but without the setter the Bluejays still hit on all cylnders as Jaali Winters (.406) and Taryn Kloth (.542) led with 15 kills each and Marysa Wilkinson (.542) had 14.

No. 22 Northern Iowa is 11-4 after beating Valparaiso 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 25-16 in their Missouri Valley opener. Piper Thomas had a career-high 23 kills and hit .373. Karlie Taylor added 21 kills and 18 digs. Lily Johnson became the all-time Missouri State kills leader with 20 in a five-set Valley win at Illinois State. Also in the Valley,  Drake is 11-3 after winning at Loyola.

No. 24 Wichita State (9-3) opened American Athletic play with a victory at Temple and check out these scores: 29-27, 19-25, 31-29, 25-15. Mikaela Raudsepp led with 23 kills and Abbie Lehman had 14. Also in the AAC, SMU (7-5) beat visiting Tulane (11-3).

Around the nation: Towson won its Colonial Athletic Conference opener at Elon 25-18, 25-20, 18-25, 25-23. Jocelyn Kuilan had 15 kills and hit .387, while Carola Biver had 12 kills. Elon (10-5) got 22 kills from Sydney Busa. Worth noting is that two of the five remaining unbeatens are from the CAA: James Madison (9-0) opens league play Saturday at William & Mary. Charleston is 12-3 after beating Hofstra in four in its CAA opener …

Radford is 12-1 after sweeping Gardner-Webb to get to 2-0 in the Big South. Maddie Palmer led with 15 kills … Alyssa Cavanaugh had a career-high 26 kills to lead Western Kentucky past Florida Atlantic in five. Cavanaugh had one error in 48 swings and hit .521 and also had three blocks, one solo. For the season, Cavanaugh is averaging 4.2 kills per set and hitting .396 for WKU, 14-2 overall after winning its Conference USA opener. Also in the C-USA Southern Miss beat North Texas in five and UTEP surprised Rice in five 

UC Irvine (12-2) finally fell to 12-2 as the Anteaters lost their Big West season opener at Hawai’i (7-5). Emily Maglio led the Rainbow Wahine with 13 kills, while Haley DeSales had 17 kills and 11 digs for UCI. Also in the Big West, Cal Poly is 12-2, 2-0 after sweeping Cal State Fullerton …

In the Atlantic 10, VCU is 14-2 after sweeping Rhode Island … In a possible preview of the race for the top — just like last season — in the Atlantic Sun, Kennesaw State beat visiting Lipscomb in five …  In a tough Ohio Valley Conference opener, Austin Peay (12-2) beat visiting SIUE (10-3) in five.

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