The pre-conference schedule continues to give us fan-friendly NCAA women’s college volleyball matches. There were a handful Thursday, with No. 1 Minnesota (twice), No. 5 Texas (twice), No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 14 Oregon all winning 3-0 sweeps. No. 10 BYU won in five at Hawai’i.
And Friday, the schedule is rocking with more than 200 matches, starting with a showcase match featuring Minnesota at Texas at 8 p.m. Central. It will be televised on the Longhorn Network and available on the Watch ESPN app.
No. 2 Florida was to play host to No. 21 Michigan State in an Active Ankle Challenge that was ultimately canceled Friday morning. It had been reduced to one match because of Hurricane Irma. UNC Greensboro and American dropped out earlier. The Michigan State team was in Gainesville, got the word, and planned to fly home Friday afternoon.
Florida State, ranked 20th, was to play host to Tennessee and Arizona as part of the FSU/FAMU Classic, but those matches have also been canceled.
The annual Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge moves this year to Illinois. No. 3 Penn State plays Colorado at 4:30 p.m. Then Illinois takes on No. 4 Stanford at 7 p.m.
Saturday, Colorado plays Illinois at 2:30 p.m. then we have the rematch eight days later of Penn State-Stanford. The Nittany Lions beat then-No. 1 Stanford in four last week at Texas A&M.
No. 7 Kansas is playing host to Belmont at noon Central and No. 17 Purdue at 7 p.m., while No. 9 Creighton plays Belmont at 5. Saturday, Belmont plays Purdue at noon and then Creighton — which beat Kansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last December, 20-18 in the fifth — play at 7:30. All the KU matches will be on Watch ESPN.
No. 8 Washington has two interesting matches at Pepperdine, first playing Missouri State and then the homestanding Waves.
BYU continues play at Hawai’i when it faces Nevada on Friday and Baylor on Saturday.
For some, preseason scheduling is tough. So No. 11 UCLA is playing at No. 12 Nebraska on both Friday and Saturday rather than have a tournament.
There’s a good one in Eugene when Oregon plays No. 23 Wichita State. Earlier Friday, the Shockers will play Duquesne.
There’s another good one in Salt Lake City when No. 18 Utah plays host to to No. 15 San Diego at 7 p.m. Mountain.
Two more ranked teams meet in Fort Collins when No. 25 Colorado State plays host to No. 16 Michigan at 6 p.m. Mountain. That match can be seen here. First, Michigan plays Idaho State and Friday morning, followed by CSU vs. Idaho State.
USC goes up the road to Santa Barbara, the 19th-ranked Trojans play Arkansas at 12:30 p.m. Pacific and UC Santa Barbara at 7. Click here to watch the tournament.
Iowa plays host to No. 22 Iowa State and Northern Illinois. The two Iowa schools play at 7 p.m. Friday and it can be seen on BTN Plus.
No. 24 Ohio State plays a home-and-home series with Notre Dame. The teams meet at 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus and then at 1 p.m. Saturday at Notre Dame. Notre Dame was scheduled to play at Coastal Carolina, but that tournament was canceled.
Other matches of note around the country on Friday include:
UC Irvine facing Louisville in Las Vegas, Duke at TCU, Pittsburgh at Western Kentucky and Kansas State vs. Xavier and Georgia Tech, UC Riverside at Texas Tech, New Hampshire vs. Washington State at Fairfield, Lipscomb against Texas A&M at Wisconsin and Miami, Ohio, vs. South Carolina.
Top-ranked teams win: Minnesota (7-0) swept Denver and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the University of Texas. In the Denver match, a 25-16, 25-19, 25-13 victory, Stephanie Samedy had 10 kills, seven digs and four blocks and Alexis Hart had nine kills, and Molly Lohman, Regan Pittman and Jasmyn Goehner seven each. Denver hit .066. In the Gophers’ 25-20, 25-19, 25-20 win over TAMUCC, Samedy had 11 more kills, six digs and four blocks. Brittany Gilpin had 13 kills for the Islanders.
Texas (6-1) beat TAMUCC 25-12, 25-15, 25-20 and Denver 25-19, 25-23, 25-17. In the first match, Lexi Sun led with 11 kills and hit .500. Chiaka Ogbogu and Micaya White had 10 kills each. Gilpin had nine kills for TAMUCC. Against Denver, Sun led again with 13 kills, while White and Ogbogu added 11 each. Ogbogu was 11 for 13 with one error to hit .769. She also had seven blocks, two solo.
Wisconsin (6-0) downed Lipscomb 25-19, 25-19, 26-24 as Tionna Williams had a career-high 11 blocks to go with 10 kills. Dana Rettke had 13 kills and hit .571. Carlyle Nusbaum had 17 kills to lead the Bison.
“I really like that team that we just played,” Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield said. “They come at you hard defensively, they’re really, really good, they’re balanced, Nusbaum had 10 kills in the third, they’re tough to handle.”
BYU’s Veronica Perry-Jones had a career-high 27 kills and seven digs as the Cougars battled to a 25-18, 25-12, 16-25, 15-25, 15-7 victory at Hawai’i. McKenna Miller added 19 kills.
“Our outsides were excellent tonight,” BYU coach Heather Olmstead said. “We also had others make big plays at important times which made tonight’s win a total team effort. It was awesome to play in front of such a great crowd who loves volleyball.”
BYU improved to 7-0, while Hawai’i dropped to 2-5 before a crowd of 5,912.
Oregon swept Cal Poly 25-22, 25-20, 25-20 to improve to 5-1 as Taylor Agost had 11 kills and 10 from Willow Johnson, who hit .389 and had six blocks and four digs. Cal Poly (5-2) got 12 kills from Torrey Van Winden and 11 more from her sister, Adlee.
Also Thursday: K-State beat North Florida in four, Loyola Marymount swept Long Beach State and the Beach fell to 1-5, Georgia Tech beat Xavier in four, Baylor did the same to Nevada, Ole Miss swept Austin Peay and Northwestern State, and Towson got to 7-1 by sweeping Cal State Fullerton.
And not just any sweep, but 32-30, 25-12, 25-13 for Towson. Carole Biver led with 10 kills, three aces, two blocks and 10 digs. Fullerton hit just .017.