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Kentucky tops Texas A&M; top seeds take tourney victories; busy Friday ahead

Montana State’s Lauren Lindseth gets the pancake against Sacramento State/Bobcat Creative Services

Kentucky, the No. 8 team in the Super 16 Media Poll, beat Texas A&M to maintain its lead in the SEC.

Conference tournaments were in full swing with few surprises and quite a few teams calling it a season.

Line of the day: Mia Wesley of Southern Miss had 31 kills in a five-set Sun Belt Championship loss to Marshall. 

And there’s another coaching opening.

The recaps and top performances follow, but first a look at Friday’s NCAA Division I women’s volleyball schedule.

Third-ranked Wisconsin, which has had six days off after losing at Penn State, is at AVCA No. 16 Purdue. Top-ranked Nebraska is home for Michigan, No. 15 Penn State is home for Michigan State, Maryland is at Indiana, Northwestern goes to Rutgers and Iowa is at Nebraska.

There are a couple of big showdowns in the Big 12. 

Oklahoma plays at Cincinnati and Texas Tech is at Kansas State. AVCA No. 17 Kansas is at VBM No. 13 BYU and AVCA No. 21 Houston is home for Iowa State.

There are six ACC matches, including No. 10 Georgia Tech at Miami. Boston College is at Syracuse, Wake Forest is at Notre Dame, Clemson is at NC State and Duke goes to Virginia. Florida State plays independent Chicago State. Fourth-ranked Louisville and No. 6 Pittsburgh are off before they play on Saturday in the showcase match of the day.

The Pac-12 has a couple of key battles as No. 2 Stanford goes to UCLA and No. 5 Oregon goes to No. 16 Arizona State. No. 12 Washington State is at Colorado, AVCA No. 24 USC is home for Cal, Washington is at Utah and Oregon State is at Arizona.

The SEC has No. 9 Tennessee at LSU, AVCA No. 20 Florida at Missouri at South Carolina at Georgia.

No. 13 Creighton, tied with Marquette for the Big East lead, is home for Xavier, which beat the Bluejays in September in five, while Marquette is home for St. John’s. 

A handful of conference tournaments get underway and others continue. 

The best place to keep up is in our TV & Streaming Listings. We have the viewing link for every match that is being shown.

CATS TOP A&M: Kentucky (16-7, 14-1 SEC) dispatched visiting Texas A&M (15-10, 7-8) for its 13th win in a row. Four Wildcats had 12 or more kills in the 25-17, 25-20, 24-26, 25-12 victory, 18 by Brooklyn DeLeye. She added an assist, an ace and eidht digs. UK hit .280 as it built its lead to a full game over idle Arkansas.

ASUN: The winners were North Florida, Lipscomb, Kennesaw State and FGCU. 

Top-seeded FGCU, which swept Bellarmine, plays Kennesaw State in the semifinals. KSU beat North Alabama. Second-seeded Lipscomb got past Stetson in five and plays UNF, which beat Eastern Kentucky. 

FGCU hit .333 and had four players with seven or more kills in its sweep including 10 with no errors in 11 attacks by Juliana Lentz and nine with no errors in 20 swings by Skylar English; Emma Schurfranz had 14 kills for Kennesaw State with one error in 26 attacks, an ace, nine digs and two blocks; Meg Mersman had 23 kills for Lippy, hitting .365, and had two aces, six digs and four blocks, one solo; and UNF got 20 kills each from Kailey McKnight and Mahalia White. 

Charleston’s Anna Smith hits through the Stony Brook block of Torri Henry, left, and Abby Campbell/Japhet Chukwuma photo

CAA: The semifinals are set after Campbell and Stony Brook advanced. Campell, which swept Northeastern, plays second-seeded Delaware, while Stony Brook gets top-seeded Towson, the home team, after beating College of Charleston in four. Campbell got 14 kills from Chloe Cook, who added two aces, two blocks and nine digs. Stony Brook’s Kali Moore had 16 kills and Leoni Kunz 14. 

SOUTHLAND: The tournament got underway with two matches as Northwestern State swept Texas A&M and New Orleans beat UIW in five. Friday, Northwestern plays HCU and UNO faces McNeese as top-seeded Southeastern Louisiana and second-seeded and host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi await for Saturday’s semifinals. Northwestern State’s Teresa Garza had 15 kills, hit .394 and had an assist, an ace, two blocks and 10 digs. Ashlyn Svoboda had 22 digs, four assists and two aces. UNO, which won 22-25, 28-26, 25-22, 20-25, 16-14, got 25 kills from Karen Cordero Barr, who added two aces and 14 digs. Allison Palmi and Kyla Malone had 20 kills each for UIW.

SUN BELT: A loaded quarterfinal field in Foley, Alabama, is set with as many as four SBC teams eyeing NCAA Tournament berths. The winners Thursday were Georgia Southern, Louisiana, Troy and Marshall. Friday’s matches, in order, have South Alabama (40 RPI), second in the West, vs. Georgia Southern; East winner Coastal Carolina vs. Louisiana; James Madison, second in the East and No. 19 in the NCAA RPI, vs. Troy; and West winner Texas State (RPI 39) vs. Marshall. 

Georgia Southern ousted Arkansas State in four as Jillian Gray had 17 kills, hit .405 and had three digs and five blocks. Louisiana swept Old Dominion, rallying from a 22-16 deficit to win the third set 27-25, Celeste Darling led the Ragin’ Cajuns with 18 kills, hitting .424, to go with four blocks. Troy swept App State as Tori Hester had 17 kills with three errors in 29 attacks. She had an ace, 11 digs and a block. And Marshall beat Southern Miss in five despite 31 kills by Mia Wesley. She also had an assist, five aces, 15 digs and two blocks, one solo. Marshall’s Olivia Fogo had 15 kills, five digs and two blocks.

WAC: Friday’s semifinals are set after Stephen F. Austin, Grand Canyon, UTRGV and Utah Valley won. Top-seeded SFA, which has won 17 in a row, plays Utah Valley, while second-seeded GCU plays UTRGV. 

SFA had to go four to get past Abiliene Christian. Ielan Bradley led SFA with 17 kills, hit .318 and had seven blocks, one solo. GCU hit .366 and swept California Baptist as Tatum Parrot had 17 kills with one error in 27 attacks, two assists, seven digs and four blocks, one solo. UTRGV beat Tarleton State in five as Claudia Lupescu had 23 kills, hit .302 and had a solo block and nine digs. Luanna Emiliano had two kills in three errorless tries, 53 assists, an ace, two blocks and 10 digs, and Kiaraliz Perez had 23 digs, five assists and an ace. Utah Valley ousted UT Arlington in five despite 20 kills by UTA’s Briann Ford, who had three blocks and 12 digs. Host Utah Valley’s Tori Ellis had 15 kills, hit .387 and had four blocks and two digs. Avery Shewell had 14 kills, hit .407 and had three aces, three blocks and seven digs.

Around the nation

The race tightened in the Big Sky as first-place Sacramento State lost in five at Montana State. The Hornets (12-3) now hold a one-game lead over Montana State, Weber State and Northern Colorado. Montana State beat visiting Sacramento State 28-26, 25-27, 25-21, 18-25, 17-15 and kept the Hornets from clinching the regular-season title outright. Kira Thomsen led MSU with 23 kills, an assist, two aces and 11 digs. Nellie Stevenson had two kills, 51 assists, three aces, three blocks and seven digs … Weber State won in four at Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado swept Idaho State

Naeemah Weathers of Colorado State hits against the New Mexico block/CSU Athletics Communications

The Ohio Valley winner was already decided but teams jockeyed for position Thursday as the regular season ended. First-place Eastern Illinois had to go five to beat Western Illinois as Ella Collins had 28 kills, hit .415 and had an assist, 18 digs and a block … Southeast Missouri lost in five to Lindenwood but still held onto second place … 

In the Mountain West, Utah State maintained its five-game lead with its 13th win in a row, a four-set victory at Fresno State. Shelby Capllonch led with 14 kills, three assists, nine digs and two blocks, one solo. Colorado State held onto second place with a sweep of New Mexico as Annie Sullivan had 16 kills, hit .414 and had two digs. In Wyoming’s four-set win over Air Force, Paige Lauterwasser had 14 kills with one error in 26 swings. Boise State beat Nevada in four and Paige Bartsch had 17 kills, hit .438, and had an assist, an ace, three blocks and nine digs …

Pepperdine (18-7,14-1) had won 17 in a row and already clinched the West Coast Conference, but the Waves were kocked off in five at Pacific, which got 19 kills from Alexa Edwards and 18 from Biamba Kabengele, who had five aces, nine digs and four blocks, one solo. Maui Robins had 22 kills, 10 digs, two assists and two blocks, one solo, in Portland’s five-set win at Gonzaga. LMU swept at Saint Mary’s as Michelle Shaffer had 14 kills, an ace and nine digs. Santa Clara won in five at San Francisco as Elena Radeff had 18 kills, an ace, five digs and six blocks, one solo …  

Florida Atlantic beat South Florida in the American Athletic as Valeria Rosado had 16 kills and Kalia Ru had nine blocks, two solo.

OPENING AT SAINT PETER’S: Coach Joe Chojnaki has resigned after the Peacocks finished 0-30, 0-18 in the MAAC. The program has had winless seasons four times, including in 2016 and 2017. In 2022, the Peacocks went 1-31, 1-17 in the MAAC.