NCAA: Kentucky rolls, key Thursday matches ahead, beach to double tourney field

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Wichita State's Sophia Rohling is all over this attempt by Tulsa's Kayley Cassaday/WSU photo

No. 7 Kentucky hit .416 and swept its SEC match Wednesday against visiting Georgia. 

Also, Mallory Dixon had seven aces as South Carolina beat Auburn, and there’s a tie atop the Southern Conference.

Big news for beach volleyball: The NCAA says it will expand the tournament field from eight to 16, and maybe even in 2022.

THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE — Second-ranked Texas, coming off that loss to Baylor and playing for the first time not ranked No. 1, is home for Oklahoma. Also in the Big 12 Kansas State goes to Iowa State in a match pitting two teams playing for their NCAA at-large lives.

The lone Big Ten match has No. 8 Minnesota at Iowa. 

Fifth-ranked BYU highlights the West Coast Conference slate when it plays host to third-place Pepperdine. No. 19 San Diego, a game behind BYU, is home for Loyola Marymount. 

In the PAC-12 match, No. 13 Washington at No. 20 Stanford and No. 21 Washington State is at Cal.

In the SEC, LSU goes to Ole Miss. 

There’s a three-way tie for first in the Big Sky. One of those teams, Northern Colorado, is off, but Weber State plays host to Northern Arizona, and Portland State is at home for Montana State. Both NAU and Montana State are two games back.

First-place UCF entertains Memphis in the only American Athletic Conference match of the day.

Horizon-leading Milwaukee, tied in the loss column but a game up in the win column with idle Northern Kentucky, plays Robert Morris. UIC, a game back in the loss column, goes to Youngstown State.

In the Mountain West, Colorado, which holds a half-game lead at the top, is off, but Utah State, even in the loss column, goes to San Jose State, which is one game back. 

SWAC-leading Jackson State plays at Mississippi Valley to close out the regular season. 

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, still holding a one-game lead over Houston Baptist in the Southland Conference, is home for UIW, and HBU goes to McNeese.

In The Summit League, Omaha holds a one-game lead over Denver and South Dakota. Something’s gotta give in second place when Denver goes to South Dakota, while Omaha goes to South Dakota State. 

In the WAC, Sam Houston holds a one-game lead over Stephen F. Austin in the Southwest Division, and in the West Division four teams — Grand Canyon, NM State, Chicago State, and California Baptist — are all tied with four losses each. Sam Houston, SFA, and NM State are off, but GCU is home for Chicago State, and CBU is at Utah Valley.

Want to watch a match? We have the links. Go to our VolleyballMag.com TV & Streaming listings to find any match that is being shown.

Murray State’s Brooke Watts tips over the Austin Peay block/Murray State photo

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS — Kentucky (18-4, 11-1) pounded visiting Georgia (8-15, 4-8) as the Wildcats hit .416 in their 25-10, 25-14, 25-18 victory. Alli Stumler had no errors in 35 attacks as she led with 15 kills and hit .429. She had two blocks and 13 digs. Madi Skinner had 13 kills and three blocks, and Azhani Tealer had nine kills, hit .500, and had an assist, four blocks, and two digs. Emma Grome had three kills in four errorless tries, 39 assists, an ace, a block, and eight digs. Kacie Evans had nine kills for Georgia, which hit .111 … 

Also in the SEC, South Carolina (14-11, 6-9) won 25-23, 25-13, 25-22 at Auburn (13-11, 5-9). Mallory Dixon had a kill in her only try, 19 assists, six digs, and a whopping seven of the Gamecocks’ 10 aces. Riley Whitesides led with 14 kills, two assists, four blocks, and five digs. Kyla Manning had 10 kills, hit .375, and had a block and 16 digs. Auburn’s Tatum Shipes had seven kills with one error in nine swings and four blocks, giving her 110 for the season, best in program history … 

Clemson of the ACC beat visiting Southern Miss of Conference USA in four. Kaylee Martin had 15 kills, two blocks, and four digs … 

UNCG (22-6, 11-4) and Mercer (15-11, 11-4)  are tied at the top of the Southern Conference standings. UNCG swept Western Carolina behind 16 kills from Kayla White, who hit .452 and added an ace, two blocks, and 15 digs … Samford got 11 kills each from Annie Karle and Jaida Howell as it swept Mercer … 

Murray State beat visiting Austin Peay in four as Brooke Watts had 16 kills in the Ohio Valley victory. Watts had a block and seven digs. Kolby McClelland had 14 kills with no errors in 29 attacks, five digs, and four blocks, one solo. Becca Fernandez had 20 digs, four assists, and three aces. Austin Peay’s Jaida Clark had 13 kills and four blocks … 

In the American Athletic, Wichita State held off visiting Tulsa in five as five Shockers had nine or more kills, 14 by Brylee Kelly, who had two solo blocks and eight digs. Sophia Rohling had 13 kills and six blocks, and Morgan Stout had 13 kills, three digs, and 11 blocks — second most in the Wichita State rally-scoring era — two solo. Tulsa’s Kayley Cassaday had 21 kills … 

Winthrop swept its Big South match against visiting Gardner-Webb as Brookelynn Thomas had 15 kills, and Nikkia Benitez 14 … UTEP of Conference USA beat NM State of the WAC in five despite NM State’s Katie Birtcil’s 25 kills. UTEP’s Paulina Perez Rosas had 20 kills with two errors in 43 attacks and hit .419. She had an assist, a solo block, and 11 digs. Yasso Amin had 11 kills, hit .368, and had a block and an assist. Alyssa Sianez had 26 digs, six assists, and an ace. NM State’s Birtcil had nine digs and two blocks, one solo. Cat Kelly had 12 kills, an assist, five digs, and three blocks, one solo.

BEACH EXPANSION — Straight from the NCAA news release:

“The NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee on Wednesday approved expanding the National Collegiate Beach Volleyball and Women’s Ice Hockey brackets.

“The Beach Volleyball Committee will explore whether the expansion from eight to 16 teams occurs for the 2022 Beach Volleyball Championship or will be implemented in 2023.”

The NCAA said the beach committee meets next week.

More:

“Aspects of the beach volleyball bracket expansion that will be discussed include conference automatic-qualification, confirmation of at-large selection criteria, and the overall format of the tournament and related logistics.

“Currently, the championship has an eight-team bracket, with three schools chosen from the eastern portion of the country and three schools from the West. The final two spots in the bracket are at-large selections.

“Beach volleyball is sponsored by 86 NCAA athletics programs, and the expansion of the bracket would allow 19% of those teams to compete for a national championship.

“Prior to NCAA sports being halted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Division I Competition Oversight Committee supported expanding the beach volleyball bracket. The continued growth in the sport, which debuted as an NCAA championship in 2016, is prompting the need to modify the bracket.”

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