The beginning of the NCAA Division I volleyball conference play could have also been called rivalry week, especially in the Pac-12.
Wednesday night’s action saw No. 21 USC beat crosstown rival No. 11 UCLA in five, No. 4 Stanford sweep cross-bay rival Cal and No. 7 Washington get past cross-state rival Washington State in four.
There were three matches in the Big Ten on Wednesday. No. 13 Purdue swept Northwestern, Ohio State did the same to Maryland and Illinois blanked Indiana.
Wednesday’s recaps and notes follow, but first a look at Thursday’s schedule when just three ranked teams are in action and two are from the West Coast Conference, where No. 9 BYU, the top-ranked team in the VolleyballMag.com Mid-Major Poll, goes to Santa Clara and No. 17 San Diego is at San Francisco.
No. 23 Colorado State opens Mountain West play when the Rams play host to New Mexico.
Click here for the NCAA.com schedule of matches.
Pac-12: Good start for USC, Cardinal, UW
USC (9-3) made the drive across Los Angeles worth fighting the traffic when it came away with a 25-21, 15-25, 18-25, 25-21, 15-11 victory.
Senior opposite Brittany Abercrombie had a career-high 18 kills, hit .425 and also had four digs and a block. Sophomore outside Khalia Lanier had 17 kills to go with seven digs, a block and two aces. And sophomore opposite Daley Krage had 10 kills.
UCLA (7-3) lost despite hitting .301. Senior Reily Buechler led with 15 kills and 19 digs and freshman Jenny Mosser had 14 kills and four digs. Freshman Mac May added 13 kills and had five digs, four blocks and three aces. Junior Kyra Rogers had 11 kills and hit .409.
USC leads the series 57-52 after losing the last three. UCLA reports the series at 63-57 in favor of the Bruins.
Stanford made short work of visiting Cal 25-20, 25-14, 25-15 to improve to 9-3, while the Bears dropped to 8-2.
Sophomore Kathryn Plummer had 17 kills and hit .519 and freshman Meghan McClure had eight kills without an error in 15 swings and hit .533. As a team, the Cardinal hit .549.
Mima Mirkovic led Cal with nine kills and hit .375.
Washington had all it could handle in its 25-19, 25-18, 21-25, 25-22 win at WSU.
“A tale of two matches really,” UW coach Keegan Cook said. “It had a bit of everything. We played clean volleyball and followed the game plan for two sets and things went smoothly. Coming out of the break, WSU played with great effort and intensity. It was a gritty battle from then on out.”
Crissy Jones, the senior All-American who had been out with an injury, made her debut memorable with 18 kills — hitting .375 — and 13 digs. Washington (11-1) got 13 kills from senior Courtney Schwan, who had five blocks, nine digs and an ace, and 11 kills from senior right side Carly DeHoog, who had three blocks.
The Cougars (11-2) saw junior Taylor Mims match her career high with 20 kills. Junior McKenna Woodford added 10.
“I thought we came out of the game break really well,” WSU coach Jen Greeny said. “We started serving much better in the third and fourth sets, and I think that’s what we were really missing in the first two sets. I think our passing could have been a lot better and we just made some silly mistakes.
“I think those will get better as we go along in the season. We weren’t serving tough so we talked about serving much more tough so that we could get them more out of system and get our blocking and defense a little more in sync. I thought it was pretty quiet on the court and we just needed to play with a little more intensity and passion, and I think we did that out of the game break. It was a very good Washington team and we just have to continue on to the next one.”
Big Ten: Get out the brooms
Three matches, three sweeps. Purdue (11-1) hit .420 in its 25-18, 25-20, 25-18 win over Northwestern, led by Danielle Cuttino, who had 16 kills and hit .345. Azariah Stahl and Sherridan Atkinson had 11 kills each. Atkinson hit .625.
“I’m just happy to be 1-0 and I thought our team played well,” Purdue coach Dave Shondell said. ”I thought we were solid tonight. I really felt like in game three when they came out and really raised their level and Northwestern played a really good third game, I thought our level came up. Especially after we got down 14-12, all of the sudden the game turned. We started competing and you saw some fire in the eyes of our players and I thought that was nice to see.”
Ohio State beat visiting Maryland 25-20, 25-16, 25-16. The Buckeyes (8-4) got 13 kills from Luisa Schirmer and 10 from Ashley Wenz, who hit .600. Gia Milana had 10 kills for Maryland (11-2).
“Congrats to Ohio State on playing a great match,” Maryland coach Steve Aird said. “It’s hard to win on the road in this conference. I think this was another important lesson for our young team.”
Illinois came out of Indiana with a 25-23, 25-17, 25-15 victory that left the Illini 10-2. Two players from Indiana led Illinois as sophomore Jacqueline Quade had 13 kills and sophomore Beth Prince added 12. Prince had seven blocks. Ali Bastianelli had 10 kills, hit .625, and had five blocks.
Indiana (11-2) got 12 kills from Kendall Beerman and 11 from Kamryn Malloy.
“We will look at some things we didn’t do as well in the second and third set as we did in the first set,” IU coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan said. “It’s a mentality thing and we need to be a little more locked into where our jobs are on the court. We will learn from this and get ready for Saturday (when Maryland visits).”
SEC: Kentucky, Arkansas win
No. 10 Kentucky came back to win at Missouri 19-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-19, as sophomore outside Leah Edmond lit it up with 18 kills while hitting a career-high .485. She had four digs. The Wildcats are 10-2. Missouri (7-7) got eight kills from Melanie Crow, but she hit .065.
Arkansas in 11-2 after — who else? — Pilar Victoria led the way in a 25-17, 25-19, 25-21 win over Tennessee. Victoria led with 17 kills and had four blocks, two aces and seven digs. Elizabeth Pamphile added 12 kills and hit .500. Tennessee (7-3) got 10 of its 35 kills from Kendra Turner.
ACC: Orange top BC
Syracuse beat visiting Boston College 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 25-23 to improve to 9-5, while BC dropped to 3-8. Anastasiya Gorelina led Syracuse with a career-high 20 kills and Kendra Lukacs had a career-high 18 kills and added 15 digs. Santita Ebangwese had 11 kills with four blocks and Belle Sand had a match-high 22 digs.
BC’s Lynn Braakhuis had 17 kills and hit .361 and had 12 digs.
Big 12: Baylor, K-State, WVU get victories
The Bears are 11-3 after their 25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 25-16 victory. Katie Staiger led with 20 kills as she hit .415 to go with eight digs. Yossiana Pressley added 15 kills and hit .333 and Shelly Fanning had 12 kills and hit .350 to go with three blocks. And setter Hannah Lockin had four kills in four attempts without an error, six digs and two blocks.
“Offensively, I thought we were pretty solid all night,” Baylor coach Ryan McGuyre said. “Hannah Lockin (had) the best match of the year for her. She’s really matured, and it’s great to see her be so good in the conference opener.
Yossi was right behind her too. With those two freshmen, when they’re on then we’re really good. It was good to see the things we worked on offensively with that being the focus. Defensively, in the second set we didn’t slow too much down. Tech is good. They’re really low error, so we had to earn our points.”
Texas Tech (11-3) got 12 kills apiece from Chandler Atwood and Emily Hill.
Kansas State is 8-6 after beating Oklahoma 25, 25-16, 25-21, 13-25, 15-8. Peyton Williams had three blocks in the final five points. She finished with 11 kills, hit .391, and seven blocks, one solo. Kylee Zumach also had 11 kills.
“I thought we played great when we had to play great,” K-state coach Suzie Fritz said. “There’s a John Wooden quote that says something to effect of, ‘Be at your best when your best is required.’ I think we were at our best when our best was required.
“There are ebbs and flows still at this point in time. We had to hit for a pretty high efficiency to keep ourselves in the match. We are still trying to find a greater defensive sense of urgency that allows us to score points faster.”
Oklahoma dropped to 3-10, but Madison Drescher had a big night with 25 kills and hit .400. Alyssa Enneking had 16 kills and 20 digs and Morgan Miller had 13 kills.
West Virginia opened league play with its 10th consecutive victory, a 21-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-19 win over visiting TCU.
“It’s a good start for us,” said third-year WVU coach Reed Sunahara, whose team is 12-2. “We’re 1-0 to start the conference. I don’t think we started at 1-0 in the conference in my first two years. We’ve got to build on this. I’m happy with the way we played.”
Sophomore right side Natania Levak hit .406 with 17 kills and sophomore outside Payton Caffrey had 13 kills and 11 digs. Senior middle Mia Swanegan had 10 kills.
TCU is 8-4. Ashleigh Martin led the Horned Frogs with 12 kills and Anna Walsh had 10 and eight blocks, one solo.