Upstarts UNLV, Boise St. play for MWC bid; Summit, Valley semis set; B1G, PAC-12, SEC races down to the wire

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The Mountain West tournament got completely turned upside down on Thanksgiving Day, the Summit League had upsets in both of its quarterfinals, and there was a big surprise in the Missouri Valley.

Now we have a Friday that should be all that and more in NCAA Division I women’s volleyball.

The Mountain West Tournament championship match and the NCAA Tournament bid that comes with it pits fourth-seeded UNLV — which upset top-seeded Colorado State — against sixth-seeded Boise State, which has never won a tournament.

In the Summit semifinals, top-seeded Omaha plays fifth-seeded Oral Roberts, and second-seeded South Dakota plays sixth-seeded South Dakota State. South Dakota State, which hadn’t won a postseason match since 2007, upset second-seeded Denver.

The Valley semis feature top-seeded Loyola against fourth-seeded Valparaiso and second-seeded Illinois State against sixth-seeded Indiana State. The No. 6 seed was 0-23 all time in the MVC Tournament from 1995 to 2017. Since then, the No. 6 seed has advanced three of last four seasons.

Here’s a look at the rest of Friday’s schedule:

There are two big showdowns in the Big Ten. The two teams tied for first, No. 11 Nebraska and No. 5 Wisconsin, meet in Madison, and No. 10 Minnesota plays at No. 15 Penn State. Also, No. 6 Purdue, a game off the lead, is home for Indiana, No. 23 Illinois is at Michigan State, Northwestern is at Michigan, and Rutgers gets one last chance to win a conference match when Iowa visits. There are five more regular-season-ending matches Saturday, including Nebraska at Purdue.

Second-ranked Texas plays back-to-back matches at Texas Tech in the Big 12, which also has West Virginia at TCU and Kansas at Kansas State.

The PAC-12 finishes with a flurry of rivalry matches, including two involving co-leaders No. 13 UCLA (at USC) and No. 12 Washington (home for No. 21 Washington State). Also, No. 17 Utah is home for Colorado, No. 18 Stanford goes to Cal, No. 19 Oregon is at Oregon State, and Arizona State is at Arizona.

The ACC slate includes top-ranked Louisville, trying to finish the regular season unbeaten, against visiting Notre Dame, which needs the victory to finish at .500 and be eligible for an NCAA at-large bid. The Irish, 13-14, are No. 36 in the NCAA RPI. There’s a big battle in Tallahassee when No. 14 Georgia Tech goes to Florida State, which is No. 14 in last week’s RPI but coming off a three-set home loss to Notre Dame. North Carolina, 29 in the RPI, is at Duke, Virginia is at Boston College, and Wake Forest is at Virginia Tech. There is one more ACC match Saturday, Clemson at NC State.

There are six SEC matches, starting with the battle for the lead in Lexington when No. 20 Florida, a game back, goes to No. 8 Kentucky for back-to-back matches. No. 24 Mississippi State, tied with Florida in the loss column, is home for Auburn. In two matches that could have at-large impacts, Missouri is at Texas A&M (49 RPI), and Arkansas (46 RPI) is at South Carolina (38 RPI). LSU goes to Georgia, and Ole Miss is at Alabama.

The Big East Tournament gets underway as top-seeded Creighton plays No. 4 seed DePaul, and host and No. 2 Marquette plays No. 3 UConn.

UCF has already won the American Athletic title, but finishes at Houston, which is No. 53 in the RPI and could bolster its slim at-large chances with a victory.

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

Utah State’s Tatum Stall rolls over Boise State’s Danielle Boss/Mountain West photo

MOUNTAIN WEST — Way back on September 13, Boise State upset then-No. 10 Utah. And then the Broncos swept Santa Clara and Oregon State to improve to 11-1. Things, however, quickly went downhill, starting with an MWC-opening loss at Colorado State. For that matter, when Boise State lost to Colorado State again last Saturday to end the regular season, it dropped to 21-10 overall, 10-8 in the conference.

But the postseason gives everyone a second chance, and Boise State (23-10) has taken advantage. Wednesday the sixth-seeded Broncos upset No. 3 San Jose State. And then Thursday, they knocked off No. 2 Utah State (22-9). Now they’ll play UNLV for the title. 

UNLV (23-8) survived a five-set win over New Mexico on Wednesday, then went five on Thanksgiving to upset Colorado State (18-10) and set up the most unlikely of championship matches. 

Boise State, which lost in five in its only regular-season meeting with Utah State, advanced with a 16-25, 25-17, 25-10, 27-25 victory. It’s the program’s first semifinal victory since 1991 and will be its first finals appearance since then.

Lauren Ohlinger led with 18 kills as she hit .302 and had an assist, 10 digs, and three blocks, two solo. Paige Bartsch had 11 kills, three assists, two digs, and three blocks, two solo. Danielle Boss had three kills, 44 assists, an ace, 15 digs, and five blocks, one solo. Tatum Stall had 14 kills for Utah State to go with an assist, an ace, and 12 digs. Kylee Stokes had 12 kills, two digs, and four blocks, one solo … 

Mariena Hayden had 28 kills as UNLV won 24-26, 25-19, 20-25, 25-20, 15-8. UNLV out-hit Colorado State .304 to .213 and out-blocked it 14-7. Hayden hit .370 and had an assist, three aces, 13 digs, and three blocks, one solo. Gabrielle Arretche-Ramos had 11 kills, hit .474, and had three blocks and a dig. Jordyn Freeman had nine kills, hit .538, and had eight blocks, two solo. Kennedy Stanford led CSU with 18 kills, an assist, an ace, two solo blocks, and three digs. Alyssa Bert had 19 digs, five assists, and two aces.

Boise State beat UNLV in five sets both times they played this season. 

SUMMIT LEAGUE — Top-seeded Omaha (19-9) plays fifth-seeded Oral Roberts (18-10), and then second-seeded South Dakota (18-9) gets South Dakota State (19-11).

ORU beat fourth-seeded Kansas City (21-10) 18-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-14. Sakira LaCour led with 11 kills as she hit .429 and had an assist and six blocks, two solo. Trinity Freeman had 10 kills, four digs, and five blocks, one solo. Kansas City’s Melanie Brecka had 17 kills, an ace, a block, and 13 digs …

South Dakota State was swept twice by Denver (23-6) this season and was 1-17 against the Pioneers all time. But Thursday the Jackrabbits came away with a 19-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 15-10 victory and are in the semifinals for the first time since 2010. 

Chloe Stitt led with 12 kills, a block, and 12 digs. Crystal Burk had 11 kills, two assists, three aces, 16 digs, and two blocks, one solo. Ella Thompson had nine kills, hit .467, and had a dig and seven blocks, one solo. 

Hailey Green led Denver with a career-high 23 kills to go with an assist, two blocks, and three digs. Tina Boe had 13 kills with one error in 27 attacks, three aces, four blocks, and three digs. Lydia Bartalo capped her tremendous career with 11 kills, an assist, four aces, 23 digs, and four blocks, one solo.

Omaha swept ORU twice this season, and South Dakota beat SDSU in four in both of their matches.  

MISSOURI VALLEY — Top-seeded Loyola (21-9) plays fourth-seeded Valparaiso (22-8), and No. 2 Illinois State (17-13) plays No. 6 Indiana State (18-11).

Friday’s matches could certainly be interesting: Loyola swept Valpo in their first meeting, but the Crusaders swept Loyola when they played November 5. Illinois State beat Indiana State in four, but Indiana State won their November 6 meeting in five.

Valpo not only ousted Evansville (19-11) 25-20, 16-25, 25-22, 25-17 but also gave Coach Carin Avery her 500th career victory. Her team won despite hitting .132. Peyton McCarthy led with 14 kills, an assist, two blocks, and a dig. Bella Ravotto had 10 kills, an assist, 11 digs, and three blocks, one solo.

Avery is 500-239 as a college head coach and 445-215 at Valpo.

Alondra Vazquez had 17 kills for Evansville, which hit .092. She had two aces, two blocks, and 13 digs … 

Indiana State beat Bradley 25-19, 25-21, 25-15 as the Sycamores hit .308. Kaitlyn Hamilton had nine kills with one error in 20 attacks, three blocks and a dig. Storm Suhre had nine kills, a block, and two digs. Bradley (16-14) hit .104.


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