Seven of Saturday’s 10 NCAA Tournament matches were sweeps.
There were no upsets, Penn State and Oregon won in four, and Houston is back in the round of 16 for the first time since 1994. And not surprisingly, all of the participants are the top-ranked remaining RPI teams. In other words, there are no surprise teams, statisically, in the final 16.
The next round of matches is Thursday. The four regional finals will be Saturday, all on ESPNU (all times Eastern):
Nebraska (26-5) vs. Oregon (25-5), 11 a.m., ESPNU
Louisville (28-2) vs. Baylor (25-6), 30 minutes after, ESPNU
Ohio State (21-9) vs. Minnesota (22-8), noon, ESPN2
Texas (24-1) vs. Marquette (29-3), 30 minutes after, ESPN2
Florida (25-5) vs. Pittsburgh (29-3), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
Wisconsin (27-3) vs. Penn State (26-7), 30 minutes after, ESPNU
Kentucky (22-7) vs. San Diego (29-1), 8 p.m., ESPNU
Houston (30-3) vs. Stanford (26-4), 30 minutes after, ESPNU
RE-MATCHES AND FIRST-TIMERS: There are two Big Ten re-matches — Ohio State plays Minnesota, and Wisconsin plays Penn State. Ohio State swept at Minnesota and lost to the Gophers in four at home, and Wisconsin swept Penn State at home and beat the Nittany Lions in five at State College …
Houston of the American Athletic Conference and Stanford of the Pac-12 haven’t played each other since 2002 … San Diego of the West Coast Conference and Kentucky of the SEC are playing for the first time … Texas of the Big 12 and Marquette of the Big East have never met … Florida of the SEC and Pittsburgh of the ACC have not met since1998 … Louisville of the ACC and Baylor of the Big 12 met once, in 1985 …
And Nebraska of the Big Ten and Oregon of the Pac-12 last played in 2018, when the Ducks visited opening weekend and the Huskers swept. Brooke Nuneviller of Oregon and Nicklin Hames of Nebraska played in that match. Then they played in what turned out to be Oregon’s last match of that season, when Nebraska swept the Ducks in the NCAA regional final in Minneapolis. Nuneviller had 19 digs and five assists as the libero, and Hames by then was the full-time setter and had a kill, 41 assists, an ace and 15 digs.
ADJUSTED RPI: Not surprisingly, 16 of the the top 18 teams in the RPI are still in the tournament.
Unofficially — the NCAA only updates once a week — the top teams are, in order, Texas, Louisville, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Stanford, San Diego, Minnesota, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio State, Florida, Marquette, Oregon, Baylor, Creighton (which was upset in the first round), Penn State, Rice (which lost in the second round) and Houston.
LOUISVILLE SWEEPS PURDUE: Louisville, the top seed in its region, won at home 25-19, 25-21, 25-23 as Purdue of the Big Ten ended its season 21-11. Claire Chaussee led a balanced attack with 12 kills, two assists, three digs and four blocks, one solo. Amaya Tillman had 11 kills with two errors in 15 attacks to hit .600 and had two blocks and three digs. Phekran Kong had seven kills and six blocks, and Elena Scott had 22 digs and two assists. Louisville hit .246, and Purdue .176.
Purdue’s Eva Hudson had 12 kills, hit .132 and had a block and five digs. Madeline Koch had 11 kills, hit .320 and had a block and two digs. Raven Colvin had 10 kills and a block. Maddie Schermerhorn had 19 digs and five assists.
OHIO STATE SWEEPS USC: The Buckeyes won 25-21, 25-17, 25-16 as they hit .379. Emily Londot had 13 kills, hit .310 and had an assist, two blocks and seven digs. Jenaisya Moore had 10 kills and hit .471 to go with three digs, and Gabby Gonzalez had nine kills with one error in 19 attacks and added an assist, an ace, two blocks and nine digs. Mac Podraza had two kills, 31 assists, two blocks and six digs and Kylie Murr had 14 digs, four assists and an ace.
USC (22-11) hit .208 and got 14 kills from Skylar Fields and 10 from Jordan Wilson.
PENN STATE BEATS UCF: UCF (28-2) of the American Athletic Conference laid down the gantlet in the first set, but the Nittany Lions roared back to win 19-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-21.
Penn State, which hit .314, got 15 kills from Kashauna Williams, who had two digs and two blocks, one solo. Zoe Weatherington had 13 kills with three errors in 20 attacks to hit .500 and had two blocks. Katie Clark had 10 kills, hit .389 and had six blocks, two solo. Seleisa Elisaia had three kills in six errorless tries, 45 assists, three blocks and eight digs.
UCF star McKenna Melville had 20 kills but hit .140 with 12 errors to go with 14 digs and two blocks, one solo. Kari Zumach had 12 kills, hit .409 and had four blocks and two digs. Heidi Bond had 11 kills, hit .348 and had a block.
FLORIDA SWEEPS IOWA STATE: Florida won 25-19, 25-23, 25-14 over Iowa State of the Big 12 (20-12). Merritt Beason and Marina Markova had 12 kills each. Beason hit .320 and had three assists, an ace, three blocks and 11 digs. Markova hit .400 and had a block and four digs. Alexis Stucky had five kills, 33 assists, an ace, three blocks and two digs.
Iowa State was the only team to beat Texas this year. The Cyclones hit .110 against Florida and Eleanor Holthaus had 13 kills, 10 digs and two blocks, one solo.
PITT SWEEPS BYU: The Panthers dispatched BYU 25-21, 25-22, 25-18 as Courtney Buzzerio had 23 kills while hitting .475. She had four errors in 40 attacks and five digs. Rachel Fairbanks had 10 kills, hit .381 and had two blocks and 13 digs.
BYU of the WCC ended its season 22-7. Erin Livingston had 13 kills, hit .308 and had four blocks and five digs. Whitney Bower had four kills in eight errorless tries, 25 assists, three blocks and seven digs.
WISCONSIN SWEEPS TCU: The red-hot Badgers blasted the visitors from the Big 12 25-9, 25-11, 25-23 for their 20th victory in a row. Wisconsin, which hit .395, got 13 kills from Sarah Franklin and four or more kills from four others. Devyn Robinson had six kills and four blocks.
TCU (17-11) had a tremendous turnaround season and was back in the tournament for the first time since 2016, but against Wisconsin there was no chance. The Horned Frogs hit .051.
HOUSTON GETS PAST AUBURN: This was the match of the day as the Cougars battled to a 25-27, 25-15, 12-25, 25-23, 15-8 victory. Houston’s Kennedy Warren had 17 kills, an assist, an ace, a block and six digs. Abbie Jackson had 14 kills, an assist, a block and 13 digs. Rachel Tullos had 11 kills with one error in 16 attacks, an assist, four blocks and seven digs. Kellen Morin had 10 kills, hit .471 and had two assists, four blocks and a dig. Kate Georgiades had 27 digs, seven assists and an ace. Houston hit .217 and Auburn .172.
Auburn of the SEC (22-9) finished with its most victories in the rally scoring era and a young roster. The Tigers knocked out host and No. 4 seed in the region Creighton on Friday. Madison Scheer had 17 kills and three digs, Akasha Anderson had 13 kills, four blocks and 10 digs and Kendal Kemp had seven kills and seven blocks, one solo. Sarah Morton had 22 digs, four assists and an ace. All four are freshmen.
MINNESOTA SWEEPS UNI: The Gophers overpowered their Missouri Valley Conference visitors 25-18, 25-16, 25-15. Taylor Landfair had 11 kills, two assists, five blocks and four digs. McKenna Wucherer had six kills, three blocks and two digs, and Carter Booth had six kills and 11 blocks. Melani Shaffmaster had three kills in four errorless tries, 25 assists, an ace, three blocks and six digs.
Northern Iowa (27-8) hit .056. Emily Holterhaus had 11 kills.
STANFORD SWEEPS LSU: The Cardinal won 25-11, 25-15, 25-21, finishing the third set by outscoring LSU 10-2. Stanford hit .384 as Kendall Kipp went off for 24 kills. She had two errors in 33 attacks, hit .667 and added three blocks and two digs. Elia Rubin had nine kills, two assists and eight digs, and Caitie Baird had eight kills, two aces, two blocks and six digs. McKenna Vicini had six kills with one error in eight swings, an assist and four blocks. Kami Miner had two kills, 45 assists, an ace, two blocks and six digs and Elena Oglivie had 19 digs, three assists and an ace.
LSU (16-14) of the SEC was in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017 and in the second round for the first time since 2014. The Tigers, who hit .150, got nine kills from Sanaa Dotson, who had an assist, two blocks and five digs. LSU finished with the same number of kills as Kipp, 24.
OREGON OUSTS ARKANSAS: After losing the first set, the Ducks rolled to a 19-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-9 victory. Brooke Nuneviller had 19 kills, two assists, three blocks and five digs and the other outside, Mimi Colyer, had 15 kills, an assist, two aces, two blocks and 10 digs. Kiari Robey had seven kills in 10 errorless attempts and seven blocks, one solo. Gloria Mutiri had six kills in 18 errorless swings, three blocks and four digs. Georgia Murphy had 19 digs and six assists, and Hannah Pukis had three kills, 42 assists, two aces, four blocks and 12 digs.
Arkansas of the SEC (21-9) had its most victories in 10 years. The Razorbacks hit .120 and got 12 kills each from Jillian Gillen and Taylor Head.