NCAA: Michigan St. sweeps No. 1 Minnesota, 5-set thrillers rule the day

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Molly Lohman of Minnesota hits against Michigan State's Alyssa Garvelink and Holly Toliver/Minnesota photo

This might be a good time to either forget or re-think everything you thought going into the 2017 NCAA Division I women’s college volleyball season.

If the first couple of days of the first weekend of conference play didn’t convince you, Sunday’s results should have you shaking your head.

Michigan State, which had fallen out of the rankings, went in to No. 5 and previously undefeated Wisconsin on Friday and beat the Badgers in five. And then Sunday, the Spartans went to top-ranked and previously undefeated No. 1 Minnesota and swept the Gophers.

“People may be a little surprised or disappointed, but it is no surprise to us that Michigan State is that good,” Minnesota coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “They are senior heavy, were a Sweet 16 team last year, they kept everyone and added a couple of nice players, so they are the real deal. As much as everyone wants to buy into the national rankings, it’s a deep league and that is a team that will do well.”

There’s a pretty good chance Michigan State will get back in the AVCA Division I Coaches Poll when it comes out Monday.

Unbeaten and third-ranked Florida made its first SEC road trip and got out of Arkansas in five, 15-13 in the fifth.

No. 4 Stanford went to No. 25 Colorado and came away with a five-set win, 15-12 in the fifth.

And No. 7 Washington went down 0-2 before coming back to win at Arizona State in five.

There were plenty of other results to get your attention as well, but first a look at Monday’s six-match schedule.

There are four matches in the Missouri Valley, including Loyola at Missouri State. And there’s a Colonial match featuring James Madison (10-0, 1-1), now one of four unbeatens (Miami, Towson and Florida are the others) at Elon (11-5, 1-1).

Big Ten: Spartans sweep again, Wisconsin bounces back

There are four teams at 2-0 in the league, Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State. It would have been hard to imagine that Michigan State would have been one of them, but the Spartans did it again, this time beating Minnesota 25-18, 25-23, 25-22. What’s more, Michigan State trailed 16-7 in the third.

“I thought we showed some poise today, both when we were ahead and when we fell behind,” veteran MSU coach Cathy George said. “ … This is just such great reward for how hard our team has worked to get ready for Big Ten play. Its not going to be perfect any night, but we’re really pleased with so much of what we did today to earn this win.”

Brooke Kranda led with 15 kills and she had two aces. Autumn Bailey added 14 and had 13 digs and Holly Toliver had 19 kills, three aces and seven digs as their team improved to 9-2.

Minnesota got 11 kills from Stephanie Samedy, who hit .407 and had eight digs and three blocks.The rest of her team combined for just 23 kills in 79 swings.

Minnesota (12-1. 1-1) saw a 40-match home winning streak end.

Wisconsin (10-1, 1-1) beat No. 20 Michigan 25-11, 30-28, 25-13 as Kelli Bates had 12 kills, seven digs and three blocks. Lauryn Gillis had 12 kills, three digs and two blocks. Freshman middle Dana Rettke had five aces.

“I thought we rebounded from Friday really, really well,” Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield said. “We came back in to practice yesterday and watched film, and I thought we had the energy that you like to see from your team coming back whether it’s a win or a loss, just ready.

“Today I thought we had laser-like focus all the way through, from the get-go, even throughout game two. Coming out of the locker room, up 2-0, and again, laser-like focus in the third set. I thought we showed an awful lot of maturity coming back from Friday night, and I thought that lasted all the way throughout the match.”

Pac-12: Stanford, UW, Utah, USC all win

The four teams that won are all 2-0 in league play and also the only ones without a Pac-12 loss.

Stanford (9-2, 2-0) got out of Boulder with a 20-25, 25-13, 27-29, 29-27, 15-12 victory after sophomore Audriana Fitzmorris had to sit out with back spasms. Senior Merete Lutz, herself out earlier this season with an injury, moved over to middle while Kathryn Plummer moved to right side.

Accordingly, Plummer led with 18 kills. She had 19 digs and six blocks. Lutz had 17 kills, hit .625 and had five blocks, one solo. And Tami Alade had 17 kills, hit .483 and had nine blocks, two solo.

Colorado (10-3, 0-2) got 25 kills from Alexa Smith, who also had 12 digs. Joslyn Hayes added 16 kills and Frankie Shebby had 12 kills, 11 digs and three blocks. Naghede Abu had six blocks to go with seven kills.

“Moral victories don’t go on the chalkboard,” CU coach Jesse Mahoney said. “I thought we played extremely well in four of those five sets. I thought that we executed the game plan really well and our seven made really nice choices. We played at a really high level consistently for a long period of time. We probably should have closed it out in set four if I hadn’t used all my challenges on the 23-21 point. It could have been 24-21 and I think we would have closed it out. I’m happy with the effort we had. If we play like that, we’ll be in a good place this season.”

Washington escaped Tempe with a 22-25, 17-25, 25-17, 25-17, 15-10 victory that left the Huskies 12-1, 2-0. ASU and Sanja Tomasevic, going up against her alma mater for the first time as a first-year head coach, fell to 10-4, 0-2.

Washington, which obviously turned it on against the scrappy Sun Devils and Oluoma Okaro, who had a career match.

The Huskies, who hit .196, had a balanced attack as Carly DeHoog led with 13 kills and three blocks, one solo. Courtney Schwan had 11 kills and 14 digs but hit .064. Crissy Jones had 10 kills and 16 digs but hit .100.

“You can find yourself in bad situations and there’s usually an equally positive opportunity,” Washington coach Keegan Cook said. “The opportunity that was there for us was to make a five-set comeback. We got ourselves in that situation, but there’s not a lot to talk about there, so we had a chance to make a memory and like seasoned players do they did a good job of that.”

Okaro had 30 kills and hit .414. The senior middle also had 17 digs and four blocks, three solo. Griere Hughes added 12 kills and Ivana Jeremic had 11.

“The cool thing is that now we see what we’re capable of,” ASU coach Sanja Tomasevic said. “We always talk about improving a little bit every day, and after we lost to Arizona on Thursday we got in the gym the next day, watch film and worked on certain things trying to improve.

“We always talk about improving one percent every day in practice and trying to get one percent better. We got better since Thursday and that showed today in parts of the game.”

No. 16 Utah overpowered visiting Cal 25-19, 25-21, 25-12. The Utes (11-2, 2-0) were led by Adora Anae, who had 14 kills and hit .545. She also had eight digs. Berkeley Oblad added 11 kills and hit .625 to go with three aces, four blocks and three digs.

Cal (9-4, 0-2) got 11 kills from Antzela Dempi who hit .500.

And No. 21 USC (10-3, 2-0) beat visiting Oregon State 25-21, 24-26, 25-18, 27-25 as Khalia Lanier had 20 kills and 15 digs. Brittany Abercrombie added 18 digs and hit .326 and Daley Krage had 12 kills and six digs.

Oregon State (10-4, 0-2) was led by Mary-Kate Marshall, who had 19 kills, four digs and three blocks, one solo. Maddie Goings added 17 kills and hit .484 to go with 14 digs and two blocks.

ACC: Seminoles win, NC State tops Notre Dame, Miami 9-0

The league had a full slate Sunday. The ACC’s only ranked team, No. 19 Florida State, beat visiting Virginia Tech 25-19, 23-25, 25-15, 25-20. The Seminoles (8-2, 2-0) got 20 kills from Milica Kubura, who hit .486 and had seven blocks. Christina Ambrose, Taryn Knuth and Natasha Calkins added eight kills apiece.

“I’m hoping this will help our momentum,” FSU coach Chris Poole said. “There’s probably about eight teams in the conference that are good enough to beat us if we don’t play to the best of our potential. So it’s really going to be about our side of the net and being fully consistent. If we do that, then I think we can be successful.”

Virginia Tech (6-7, 0-2) got 15 kills from Ester Talamazzi, who had 10 digs, and 10 kills from Jaila Tolbert.

NC State is 7-6 overall and 2-0 in the ACC for the first time since 2012 after beating visiting Notre Dame 25-17, 19-25, 25-16, 21-25, 15-7.

Julia Brown led with 15 kills despite hitting .054 and had 23 digs.  Melissa Evans had 15 kills and seven blocks. Teni Sopitan had 13 kills, hit .571 and had nine blocks, one solo. And Kaitlyn Kearney had seven kills, five digs and nine blocks.

“Two five-gamers back-to-back in conference to open it up,” NC State coach Linda Hampton-Keith said. “I love that we’re being pretty gutsy right now, in two very different, dramatic fashions. Today was a really well-balanced effort on our part, so that was really exciting to see. Our team kept hanging in there and pushing back. It was a fun match to coach.”

Notre Dame (10-3, 0-2) got 17 kills from Jemma Yeadon, but she hit .049 as her team hit .089 overall. Yeadon had 13 digs. Sam Fry added 10 kills and 10 blocks.

Miami (8-0, 2-0) stayed unbeaten with its 0-25, 25-21, 25-17, 23-25, 15-11 win over visiting Virginia (4-8, 0-2). Miami, 3-0 in five-setters this season, got 21 kills from Olga Strantzali, who hit .364 and had four blocks and 10 digs. Cameron Dobbs added 12 kills and Haley Templeton had eight, hitting .538, to go with nine digs.

“It was a good match for us, I thought we played pretty well in game five, which is a good end to a long week,” Miami coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “UVA is a good win. They were switching lineups and are very dangerous.”

Jelena Novakovic led Notre Dame with 17 kills. Alex Spencer had 14 kills and 14 digs.

Once-ranked North Carolina (4-6, 1-1) got a much-need victory over visiting Louisville (7-5, 1-1), rallying from 0-2 to win 19-25, 18-25, 25-18, 25-19, 15-12.

Five players had nine or more kills, led by Taylor Leath’s 11. Beth Nordhorn and Holly Carlton had 10 each and Sehrena Hull and Sydnye Fields had nine apiece. Hull  had 17 digs.

“Without a question, the best defensive play we’ve had all year,” said head coach Joe Sagula. “We had to, because Louisville is a tenacious team. It’s hard to put the ball down on one swing. I have a lot of respect for them, they’re having a good season, had a big win against Notre Dame (on Friday). For us to be able to do this, I thought took really, really gutsy play.”

Melanie McHenry had 18 kills and 14 digs to lead Louisville. Jasmine Bennett had 15 kills and Amanda Green 14.

Pittsburgh hit .403 in its 25-14, 24-26, 25-12, 25-23 win over visiting Boston College. Pittsburgh (9-4, 2-0) got 17 kills from Nika Markovic, who hit .708, had nine digs and six blocks. Layne Van Buskirk had 13 kills and Mariah Bell and Stephanie Williams 12 each.

BC (3-9, 0-2) got 15 kills from Cat Balido.

Duke (10-3, 2-0) swept Georgia Tech (6-7, 1-1) 25-13, 25-18, 25-14 as Cadie Bates had 12 kills, hit .550 and had 15 digs. Wake Forest (9-5, 1-1) went overtime in the three sets it won as the Deacons beat Clemson (5-9, 0-2) 27-25, 26-24, 22-25, 27-25. Kylie Long led with 17 kills and seven digs and Caitlyn Della had 13 kills, four blocks and four digs.

Miami, FSU, Duke, Pittsburgh and NC State are the only teams left unbeaten in league play.

SEC: Gators hold on, Kentucky sweeps

Florida is 9-0 after getting out of Arkansas with a 25-22, 21-25, 25-16, 23-25, 15-13 win in its league opener. The fifth set was tied 9-9 before the Gators pulled away, ending it on a kill by Carli Snyder, who finished with 17 kills, four blocks and 14 digs. Rhamat Alhassan led with 20 kills, hitting .516, and six blocks. Paige Hammons had 11 kills and six blocks.

Arkansas (11-3, 1-1) got 30 more kills from the remarkable Pilar Victoria, who also had a block and seven digs. Reagan Robinson added 12 kills, two blocks and four digs.

No. 10 Kentucky had nine aces and hit .524 as it rolled to a 25-22, 25-16, 25-13 sweep of visiting LSU. UK (11-2, 2-0) got 10 kills each from Avery Skinner, who hit .529, and Leah Edmond, who hit .368 and had eight digs and four blocks.

“I’m pleased we sustained it throughout the match,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “Hitting that type of number throughout an entire match is good. Zero hitting errors in the third set is an impressive stat, so a lot of credit to Madison (Lilley) for distributing the ball to the right people at the right time and credit our hitter for hitting the right shots.”

LSU (10-3, 1-1) got nine kills from Taylor Bannister and eight from Olivia Beyer.

Auburn (9-2, 2-0) went to Athens and swept Georgia (11-4, 1-1) 26-24, 25-22, 25-16. Four Tigers had seven or more kills, led by Brenna McIlroy’s nine.

Also in the SEC on Sunday, Missouri (8-7, 1-1) beat Texas A&M (3-8, 0-2) 25-21, 22-25, 25-12, 25-22; Tennessee (8-3, 1-1) beat Mississippi State (9-8, 0-2) 25-23, 24-26, 25-14, 25-11; and Ole Miss (10-5, 1-1) beat Alabama (11-4, 0-2) 18-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-22.

Ainise Havili, left, and Taylor Alexander put up the block at Kansas State/(Jeff Jacobsen photo, Kansas Athletics

Big 12: Kansas escapes K-State in five

There was only one match in the league on Sunday, but it gave the ESPN2 audience all it could ask for as the 12th-ranked Jayhawks got out of Manhattan with a 25-20, 21-25, 22-25, 25-15, 16-14 victory.

“Our team likes playing here because we know it’s going to be a good atmosphere,” Kansas coach Ray Bechard said. “The heat was different today than what we experience. But hey, it’s part of the game. I’m glad it was a high-level volleyball match.”

KU (12-1, 1-0) hit .342. Madison Rigdon led with 18 kills and eight digs. Kelsie Payne had 14 kills, three blocks and 12 digs and Taylor Alexander had 11 kills and hit .588. Jada Bursa added 10 kills and hit .476.

K-State (8-7, 1-1) got 14 kills from Peyton Williams, who hit .462. Alyssa Schultejeans and Bryna Vogel had 13 kills apiece. Vogel added 15 digs.

“That’s going to be life in the Big 12 this year,” Bechard said. “Boy, K-State played hard. Kansas played hard. That’s the best match we’ve had this season, just if you’re a casual fan. Momentum was going both ways.

“We looked like we were out of it after being down two sets to one. Then we played about as well as we have all year in the fourth set. Got off to a good lead in the fifth set, and back K-State came to make it close down the stretch. Just great volleyball. Both teams hitting for a high percentage-wise. We end up getting enough touches and stops at the end to make it happen.”

300 wins at Creighton for Bernthal Booth

No. 15 Creighton beat visiting Villanova 25-20, 23-25, 25-19, 25-16 to get to 9-4 overall and 2-0 in the Big East and it was also the 300th victory for coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth. Creighton got a big boost with the return of setter Lydia Dimke, who not only had 43 assists, but 18 digs and seven kills while hitting .500. Jaali Winters led with 18 kills and hit .350. Marysa Wilkinson added 13 kills as she hit .423 and Megan Ballenger and Taryn Kloth had 11 kills each.

Villanova is 7-6, 0-2. Also in the Big East, Providence improved to 13-4, 2-0 with a five-set win over Georgetown (6-8, 0-2).

Around the nation: In the American Athletic, No. 24 Wichita State is 10-3, 2-0, after winning a sweep at Connecticut as Abbie Lehman had 17 kills in 22 swings without an error to hit .773. Tulane is 12-3, 1-1 after beating Tulsa in four, and SMU is 8-5 overall but 2-0 in the league after sweeping Houston …

Towson remains unbeaten. The Tigers swept William & Mary to get to 16-0 overall, 2-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association, as Carola Biver had 18 kills …

VCU keeps rolling. The Rams won their 12th in a row as they beat Fordham in three on Sunday to improve to 15-3 overall and 2-0 in the Atlantic 10. Alicia Kandler led with 10 kills …

In Conference USA, Western Kentucky (15-2, 2-0) swept Charlotte as Rachel Anderson had 20 kills and Alyssa Cavanaugh had 12 as their team hit .447. North Texas (13-2, 1-1) got back on track by sweeping FIU …

In Summit League action, Denver is 10-3 after beating IPFW in five to win its conference opener, while North Dakota State is 11-3, 2-0 after sweeping South Dakota State … Madison Daigle had seven kills, hit .600 and had 10 blocks, one solo as Texas State (9-7, 1-1) swept Troy in the Sun Belt.

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