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Ball St., BGSU advance; USC wins; Baylor, BYU, Pepperdine play Tuesday; AVCA, RPI notes

There were three NCAA Division I women’s Volleyball matches Monday, two in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals and a rare nonconference affair that saw the PAC-12’s USC sweep the Ivy League’s Brown.

In the MAC semis, the top two seeds — Ball State and Bowling Green — each won in four and play for the conference title Wednesday.

There are eight matches Tuesday, including No. 7 Baylor at Oklahoma in the Big 12. Baylor is No. 3 in the NCAA RPI and can’t afford a loss against OU either Tuesday or in the rematch Wednesday in its drive to be a host for the first four NCAA Tournament rounds.

In the West Coast Conference, No. 4 BYU ends its regular season at San Diego, which fell out of the AVCA Poll this week. BYU is No. 17 in the NCAA RPI and would love to be one of the top 16 and a first- and second-round NCAA host. San Diego, down to No. 43 in the RPI, probably needs a victory for an at-large bid.

Pepperdine, the WCC’s other ranked team — again at No. 25, is home for Gonzaga. Also, Santa Clara is at Pacific, Portland is at Loyola Marymount, and Saint Mary’s plays host to San Francisco, which at 0-24 overall and 0-16 in the WCC, has its last chance for a victory this season.

There is one PAC-12 match, No. 19 Oregon at Arizona. In the Big West, UC Santa Barbara is at CSUN.

Want to watch a match? We’ve got you covered. Get the viewing link from our Volleyball TV & Streaming Listings.

AVCA POLL — The top eight teams stayed the same, and Ohio State moved up a spot to No. 9, trading places with Minnesota. The Big Ten has five teams in the top 11 — Wisconsin is No. 5, Purdue No. 6, and Nebraska No. 11.

The ACC has three teams in the top 14, No. 1 Louisville, No. 3 Pittsburgh, and now No. 14 Georgia Tech, which last week was in a tie with still No. 13 UCLA.

San Diego, which was No. 23, dropped out, and Mississippi State, ranked 25th, moved in for the first time.

Click here for the complete AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Women’s Poll.

NCAA RPI — With the NCAA selection show on tap Sunday, the RPI is more important than ever. Louisville, Pittsburgh, Baylor, Texas, and Wisconsin take up the first five spots. 

After that, frankly, the RPI looks unlike the AVCA Poll. The next five are Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Purdue, Ohio State and UCLA.

Since the top 16 NCAA Tournament seeds get to be first- and second-round hosts, the next six are unranked Miami (Florida), Creighton, Nebraska, unranked Florida State, Florida, and unranked Marquette.

Click here for the complete NCAA RPI.

AVCA POW — The AVCA last week had a chance to honor Rider’s Morgan Romano, who had back-to-back 26-kill matches. Then she had two more 26-kill matches this past weekend in the MAAC Tournament before getting only 13 in the final. But last week’s AVCA player of the week was Florida’s T’Ara Ceaser, who was certainly deserving.

This past Sunday, Minnesota’s Stephanie Samedy put together probably the best single match played in Division I this season when she had 31 kills, while hitting .312, and added 20 digs, an assist and four blocks in a five-set loss to Wisconsin. Minnesota’s other match with Rutgers was canceled. Samedy won the award on November 2.

In an effort, presumably, to spread things around, the AVCA honor this week goes to a very deserving Samantha Drechsel of Washington, whom we featured here last week. In a sweep of Oregon State, Drechsel had 15 kills with two errors in 29 attacks, three assists, and eight digs. Then Sunday in a sweep of Oregon, she had 15 kills with one error in 20 attacks, two assists, three aces, and four digs.

There have been 13 different winners in 13 weeks this season.

MACtion — Top-seeded Ball State (28-3) beat Western Michigan (19-12) as four players had 10 or more kills in the 25-23, 21-25, 25-18, 25-11 victory. Natalie Mitchem had 12 kills with one error in 26 attacks to hit .423. Marie Plitt had 11 kills with one error in 22 swings to hit .455 and added seven blocks, one solo, an assist, and four digs. Maggie Huber had 27 digs and three assists. Megan Wielonski had seven kills in 13 errorless attempts, 45 assists, three blocks, and nine digs.

WMU, which advanced with a quarterfinal victory over Toledo, got 15 kills each from Meredith Phillips and Julia Marr, and Andelyn Simkins had 24 kills, an assist, and an ace … 

Bowling Green (21-8) won 25-18, 22-25, 25-21, 25-20 over third-seeded Ohio (12-19), which had one of the biggest turnarounds in the nation this season. The Bobcats were 1-15 before going 11-3 before the loss to BGSU.

Bowling Green, which hit .301, got 18 kills from Kat Mandly, who hit .342 and had two digs and three blocks, one solo. Petra Indrova had 17 kills, hit .366, and added two aces, two blocks, and 13 digs. Julia Walz had 22 digs and three assists, and Hanna Laube had two kills in five errorless tries, 52 assists, two aces, a block, and nine digs.

The Bobcats had five players with 10 or more kills — the five got all of Ohio’s kills. Maggie Nedoma led with 14 kills and added six digs and three blocks, one solo. Olivia Margolies had 11 kills, 16 digs, and two blocks.

Ball State and Bowling Green play Wednesday for the MAC title and the NCAA bid that goes with it. The prevailing thought is that if Bowling Green were to win, Ball State, No. 32 in the RPI, would get an at-large. A lot of Power 5 teams around the country that are in limbo will be rooting for Ball State.

USC DOWNS BROWN — USC (14-14) beat visiting Brown (20-5) 25-19, 25-16, 25-2 as the Ivy-champion Bears, off since November 13, made the trip from Providence, Rhode Island. 

Florida transfer Paige Hammons, who previously had played in just 32 sets, led USC with 11 kills as she hit .313 and had five digs and three blocks, one solo. Brooke Botkin had 10 kills and seven digs. Mia Tuaniga had three kills, 39 assists, three aces, a block, and four digs.

USC needed an extra match to have a shot at a .500 or better record, which would make it NCAA eligible. But the Trojans, who play No. 18 Stanford on Wednesday and No. 13 UCLA on Friday, stand No. 63 in the RPI, so clearly two victories are needed for any hope.

Brown got seven kills each from Sophia Miller and Beau Vanderlaan.