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San Diego, Liberty escape upsets, but chaos rules as NCAA volleyball tourneys begin

Second-ranked San Diego escaped the wave of upsets Thursday, rallying not once, not twice, but three times to beat Loyola in five in the West Coast Conference.

Liberty, the top-seeded team in the ASUN Championship, saw its season on the brink. The Flames faced match point in the fifth set against eighth-seeded Stetson but pulled it out, avoiding what would have been a mid-major upset of epic proportions.

But there were plenty of upsets, both in conference play and in regular-season action.

To wit: 

UC Davis put Hawai’i in the Big West driver’s seat by knocking off second-place UC Santa Barbara in five, which included winning the third set 40-38. 

Also in regular-season play, North Dakota State ended South Dakota’s 12-match Summit League winning streak.

Third-seeded Jacksonville State was bounced from the ASUN tournament, second-seeded Hofstra lost in the CAA tourney when seventh-seeded William & Mary pulled off a reverse sweep, and seventh-seeded Rider hit .450 and stunned second-seeded Marist in the MAAC.

In the Ohio Valley, the Nos. 5, 6 and 7 seeds also won.

We’ve got the recaps, results and top performances, but first a look at Friday’s schedule.

And it starts with the ACC match we’ve been waiting for, No. 7 Pittsburgh at No. 4 Louisville. Pittsburgh won the first meeting 25-15, 25-13, 25-27, 20-25, 15-12 at Pitt on October 23. Pitt has won 18 in a row. Also in the ACC, North Carolina is at Florida State, No. 13 Georgia Tech is at Clemson and Syracuse is at Miami.

There are seven Big Ten matches. Third-ranked Wisconsin is at Rutgers, No. 5 Ohio State is at Maryland, No. 6 Nebraska is at Iowa, No. 9 Minnesota is at No. 14 Penn State, No. 19 Purdue is home for Michigan, Michigan State is at Illinois, and Northwestern plays at Indiana.

The Pac-12 slate shows No. 12 Oregon home for UCLA, No. 21 Washington home for Colorado, No. 25 Washington State home for Utah and USC at Oregon State.

The lone SEC match has Ole Miss at Georgia. The Big 12 is off.

In the Big East, No. 11 Creighton is at DePaul and No. 16 Marquette is home for Xavier. 

In the American Athletic Conference,  No. 23 Houston, riding a 17-match winning streak, is home for Memphis, and No. 24 UCF, which has won 11 in a row, is at East Carolina.

Play continues in the ASUN, CAA, MAAC, Ohio Valley, Southland, Sun Belt  and WAC tournaments.

Tournaments that begin on Friday include those in the Atlantic 10, Conference USA, Horizon League, Ivy League, MEAC, SoCon and SWAC. In C-USA, that includes No. 20 Western Kentucky facing Middle Tennessee in one quarterfinal and No. 22 Rice playing FIU in another.

Want to watch a match? We have the viewing links on the TV & Streaming Listings page.

WCC: San Diego (25-1, 16-0) won its 22nd in a row, 20-25, 25-22, 19-25, 26-24, 15-11 at Loyola Marymount (17-8, 12-4). The Toreros, who hadn’t lost a set since September 24, trailed 9-6 in the fifth before coming back and staying in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament high seed. Grace Frohling had 17 kills with two errors and hit .405 to go with an assist, an ace, four digs and eight blocks. Leyla Blackwell had 14 kills with two errors in 21 attacks to hit .571 and had eight blocks. Breana Edwards had 13 kills and Katie Lukes 10 to go with four blocks and nine digs. Gabby Blossom had a kill, 51 assists, two blocks and 11 digs. Her team hit .256.

Kari Geissberger had 22 kills for LMU to go with an assist, an ace, eight blocks and seven digs. Rose Booth and Jacquelyn Moore had 14 kills each. Moore had no errors in 25 attacks and five blocks, one solo. Isabelle Refell had 12 kills and four blocks to go with four digs, and Phoebe Awoleye had five kills and eight blocks … 

Pepperdine’s Emma Ammerman hits against the BYU block of Erin Livingston, left, and Whitney Llarenas/Martin A. Folb photo

No. 17 BYU hit .372 and won 25-22, 25-21, 25-22 at Pepperdine to stay two games back of USD with two to play, including their match Tuesday at BYU. Erin Livingston led BYU with 20 of her team’s 46 kills while hitting .436 and had an assist, two blocks and five digs. Abby Taylor had two kills in three errorless tries, 34 assists, an ace, a block and seven digs … 

Saint Mary’s hit .341 and beat visiting Gonzaga in five. Hawley Harrer had 26 kills with two errors in 51 attacks to hit .471 and had an assist, two bllock and three digs. Makenna Joyce had 28 digs, nine assists and an ace … Pacific beat visiting Portland in five behind 24 kills by Biamba Kabengele, who had an ace, seven digs and three blocks, one solo.

PAC-12: Eighth-ranked Stanford (21-4, 16-1) won its 15th in a row by beating visiting Arizona State (11-18, 5-12) in four. The Cardinal hit .303 in the 25-22, 25-11, 22-25, 25-14 victory. Kendall Kipp had 21 kills, hit .314 and had an assist, three blocks and six digs. Elia Rubin had 18 kills, hit .300 and added two assists, three blocks and 12 digs. Kami Miner had three kills in six errorless tries, 41 assists, five aces, two solo blocks and 17 digs, and Elena Oglivie had 24 digs, seven assists and an ace. ASU’s Marta Levinska had 15 kills, two assists, an ace, two blocks and eight digs … Arizona (15-13, 5-12) rallied to win in five at Cal (7-20, 0-17). Jaelyn Hodge had 16 kills, an assist, six blocks and 10 digs in the 25-17, 24-26, 22-25, 25-14, 15-9 win and Sofia Maldonado Diaz had 15 kills, three assists, four aces, seven blocks and 13 digs. Kamaile Hiapo had 23 digs, four assists and two aces. Cal’s Tara DeSa had 32 digs and three assists and even her first kill iof the season. Lydia Grote had 18 kills, an assist, an ace, three blocks and 16 digs.

ASUN: There was one upset as quarterfinal play got under way when sixth-seeded Kennesaw State knocked out third-seeded Jacksonville State. Top-seeded Liberty got all it could handle from Stetson, holding on 19-25, 25-16, 23-25, 27-25, 16-14. Liberty, which has won 11 in a row, got 15 kills apiece from Lydia Burts and Madison Blane and 14 from Kamryn Bacus. Erica Lowry had 27 digs, five assists and an ace. In the other quarters, host No.4 Lipscomb swept fifth-seeded Central Arkansas and second-seeded FGCU did the same to No. 7 North Florida.

Friday’s semifinals pit Kennesaw State vs. second-seeded FGCU and Liberty against Lipscomb.

CAA: Seventh-seeded William & Mary stunned No. 2 Hofstra for the Tribe’s first CAA tournament win since 2001. William & Mary, which had lost its last six matches, pulled off the most unlikely reverse sweep 19-25, 20-25, 25-14, 25-18, 15-12. Eleanor Stothoff had 17 kills. Top-seeded Towson beat eighth-seeded Stony Brook in four, No. 4 Northeastern beat fifth-seeded Elon, and No. 3 Delaware also had to pull off a reverse sweep at it beat College of Charleston 17-25, 16-25, 25-21, 25-22, 15-13. Lani Mason had 23 kills for Delaware to go with 17 digs and two blocks, one solo.

Friday’s semifinals pit Towson vs. Northeastern and Delaware vs. William & Mary.

MAAC: Three of Thursday’s matchups went to the lower-seeded teams.

Seventh-seeded Rider swept second-seeded Marist as it had 52 kills with seven errors in 100 attacks. Jenna Amaro had 13 kills with no errors in 22 attacks and Carley McAleavy, who had one error in 19 swings, Morgan Romano and Tori Schrader had 10 kills each.

Fifth-seeded Siena swept fourth-seeded Canisius as Emily Wunder had 15 kills and hit .406, and sixth-seeded Quinnipiac ousted third-seeded Iona in four as Ginevra Giovagnoni had 17 kills, four assists, four aces, 21 digs and a block. Top-seeded Fairfield beat Niagara in four as KJ Johnson had 19 kills, hit .349 and had five digs and two blocks.

Friday Fairfield plays Siena and Rider faces Quinnipiac.

Sophie Garcia-Guerrios, 7, leads the Tennessee State celebration against Morehead State

OVC: Just like in the MAAC, three of the matches went to the lower-seeded teams. Seventh-seeded Lindenwood swept No. 2 Tennessee Tech, sixth-seeded Tennessee State beat third-seeded Morehead State in five, and fifth-seeded Southeast Missouri beat fourth-seeded Eastern Illinois in five. Top-seeded UT Martin beat eighth-seeded SIUE in four.

Friday’s semifinasl have UTM vs. Southeast Missouri and Tennessee State vs. Lindenwood. Tennessee State won a tourney match for the first time since 2015. UTM is in the semis for the first tie since 2011. Lindenwood is playing its first year in Division I.

SOUTHLAND: Fifth-seeded Northwestern State beat eighth-seeded UIW in five and seventh-seeded Texas A&M-Commerce beat sixth-seeded New Orleans in four. 

Friday’s two quarterfinal matches have Texas A&M-Corpus Christi playing xxx and McNeese facing Texas A&M-Commerce.

SUN BELT: Arkansas State beat Old Dominion in five, Georgia Southern beat Southern Miss in four, South Alabama beat Marshall in four, and Louisiana beat App State in five. 

Arkansas State’s Macey Putt had 22 kills and Old Dominion’s Myah Conway had 23. South Alabama’s Hannah Maddux had 21 kills, an ace, two digs and five blocks, one solo.

Friday’s matches have Troy vs. Arkansas State, James Madison vs. Georgia Southern, Coastal Carolina vs. South Alabama, and Texas State vs. Louisiana.

WAC: All four higher seeds advanced, setting up Friday’s semifinals of top-seeded and host UTRGV against No. 4 Utah Valley and second-seeded Stephen F. Austin against No. 3 Grand Canyon.

AROUND THE NATION: Hawai’i (18-6, 15-1) was off but inched closer to the Big West regular-season title and the conference’s automatic bid when UC Davis (13-14, 8-9) knocked off visiting second-place UC Santa Barbara (18-9, 14-3) 28-26, 22-25, 40-38, 22-25, 15-9. Hawai’i has four matches left, at home Friday against Cal Poly and Saturday against CSU Bakersfield, and then next weekend at UCSB and CSUN. Olivia Utterback of UC Davis had 25 kills against UCSB as she hit .339 and had an assist, two aces, 14 digs and three blocks, one solo. Shira Lahay had 21 digs, seven assist and an ace … Also in the Big West, CSUN won in five at UC Riverside as Carisa Barron had 12 kills with one error in 33 attacks, 19 assists, two aces, three blocks and 10 digs … 

In the Big Sky, Montana pulled closed the gap to two games behind idle Northern Colorado with a four-set win at Idaho State behind 19 kills by Paige Clark, Montana State swept at Weber State and Northern Arizona won in five at Idaho as five players had 10 or more kills, 15 by Jordan Elder, who hit .414 and had five blocks. Millie O’Ketter had 20 digs, six assists and three aces … 

UNLV extended its Mountain West winning streak to 16 with a sweep of visiting Wyoming and clinched the conference’s regular-season title and top seed in the tournament. UNLV (25-3, 16-1) hit .398 with 39 kills and six errors in 83 attacks. Isabel Martin led with 12 kills as she was one of four Rebels who hit .500 … Also in the MWC, San Jose State stayed two games back by sweeping Fresno State, Air Force swept Boise State, Kaitlynn Biassou had 19 kills and hit .395 as New Mexico beat Utah State in four and San Diego State did the same at Nevada  

In the Summit League, South Dakota still holds a two-game lead over North Dakota State with one game left, but the Coyotes saw their 12-game winning streak end with a four-set loss to visiting NDSU. Syra Tanchin had 22 kills for NDSU, hitting .375, and added an assist, a block and 12 digs. NCAA kills leader Elizabeth Juhnke had 19 for South Dakota to go with an ace, 18 digs and two blocks, one solo … Also in the Summit, Oral Roberts swept at Western Illinois, Kansas City did the same at St. Thomas, and South Dakota State swept visiting North Dakota. SDSU’s Masa Scheierman had 16 kills with one error in 29 attacks.

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