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Pitt rallies to beat Louisville; UMBC, FGCU, Delaware, Yale, LIU, GCU earn NCAA bids

Pitt had a record home crowd for its win over Louisville

The Louisville at Pittsburgh ACC rematch was all that and more Saturday as Pitt won in an epic reverse sweep. 

NCAA Tournament bids were claimed by UMBC, FGCU, Delaware, Yale, LIU and Grand Canyon.

The recaps and top performances follow, but first a look at Sunday’s NCAA Division I women’s volleyball schedule, which promises to be a really fun day with NCAA bids to be claimed in the Atlantic 10, Big South, Conference USA, MAAC, MEAC, Horizon, Patriot, Southland, Sun Belt, SWAC and SoCon.

In the ACC, 10th-ranked Georgia Tech is home for Syracuse, AVCA No. 25 Florida State is at North Carolina, Wake Forest is at Virginia Tech and Clemson is at Duke. 

There are two Big Ten matches involving the top two teams — the last they play before playing each other next Friday — when top-ranked Nebraska goes to Iowa and No. 3 Wisconsin goes to Indiana.

The Pac-12 has a full slate with No. 2 Stanford at AVCA No. 24 USC, No. 5 Oregon at Arizona, No. 12 Washington State at Utah, No. 16 Arizona State home for Oregon State, Washington at Colorado and Cal at UCLA. 

In the SEC, where No. 8 Kentucky holds a one-game lead over No. 9 Tennessee and No. 10 Arkansas, Kentucky is home for Missouri, Tennessee is at Texas A&M, Arkansas is home for AVCA No. 20 Florida, Alabama is at Georgia, LSU is at Auburn and Mississippi State is at Ole Miss.

For Sunday’s complete schedule and with viewing links to every match, go to the TV & Streaming Listings.

PITT PREVAILS: Pittsburgh (23-4, 14-2) not only avenged getting swept at Lousville (23-4, 14-3) six weeks ago, the Panthers set a home attendance record as they won 19-25, 24-26, 26-24, 25-21, 17-15. 

The crowd of 8,865 in the Petersen Events Center saw a handful of career-high performances on both sides, starting with Pitt’s Torrey Stafford, who had a career-best 21 kills. She hit .439 and had two assists, three blocks and 11 digs. Olivia Babcock led Pitt with a career-high 23 kills — five with no errors in seven attacks in the fifth set — an ace, two blocks and a personal-best 12 digs. Valeria Vazquez-Gomez had 15 kills, three assists and 10 digs. Rachel Fairbanks had two kills in five errorless tries, a career-high 58 assists, an ace, 19 digs and two blocks, one solo. Her team hit .265.

Louisville, which led 14-13 but couldn’t close out, hit. 315 and lost the match on back-to-back hitting errors. Anna DeBeer had a career-high 29 kills — six in the fifth — while hitting .404 to go with an assist, two blocks and 17 digs. Charitie Luper had 24 kills, hit .327, and had three assists, two blocks and 13 digs. She had two service errors in the fifth set. Elena Scott had 24 digs, five assists and an ace.

The only ACC match of the day left Pitt tied with Florida State atop the SEC standings and Louisville a game back in the loss column.

BIG TEN: Purdue (19-8, 13-5) had no hangover from beating Wisconsin the day before as the AVCA No. 16 Boilermakers swept visiting Maryland (16-14, 6-12). Eva Hudson led with 18 kills, an assist, an ace, three blocks and seven digs … No. 15 Penn State (19-8, 13-5) swept visiting Northwestern (13-15, 7-11) as Jess Mruzik had 15 kills, hit .364 and had an ace, a block and eight digs … Illinois (16-12, 11-7) swept visiting Michigan (7-20, 5-13) behind 17 kills by Raina Terry, who hit .400 and had three aces, two blocks and five digs … Minnesota (15-11, 11-7) swept visiting Ohio State (10-17, 7-11) and Michigan State (17-12, 9-9) won in five at Rutgers (10-18, 2-16) as four players had 12 or more kills, 17 by Taylah Holdem.

BIG 12: Seventh-ranked Texas (21-4 16-1) swept at UCF (17-10, 8-8) as Madisen Skinner had 20 kills, hit .341 and had a block and four digs … AVCA No. 23 Baylor (15-12, 9-8) hit .493 and swept visiting West Virginia (9-20, 2-14). Baylor had 42 kills with five errors in 75 swings. Elise McGhee led with 13 kills … Kansas State (6-10, 10-7) swept visiting Texas Tech (10-18, 3-13) … Oklahoma (10-16, 3-13) won in five at Cincinnati (12-14, 5-11), 15-5 in the fifth. Lydia Burts had 17 kills and hit .484 to go with an assist, two aces, five digs and six blocks, one solo.

NCAA bids clinched

Nine of the 32 automatics bids have claimed, three through regular-season league championships, by SMU in the American Athletic, Texas in the Big 12 and Pepperdine in the West Coast. Six more were won in conference-tournament finals Saturday:

UMBC wins the 2023 America East Championship

AMERICA EAST: Top-seeded UMBC (17-7) swept third-seeded Binghamton (15-13) 25-19, 25-16, 25-18. The Retrievers did not allow more than 19 points in either of their sweeps en route to winning the title and they hit .350 against Binghamton. Mia Bilusic led with 13 kills, two aces and three digs.

FGCU wins the 2023 ASUN Championship

ASUN: Top-seeded Florida Gulf Coast (26-6) swept second-seeded Lipscomb (21-8) for its second straight title. Skylar Engish led with 10 kills in the 25-11, 25-21, 25-20 victory. Ella Chapmand had nine kills with one error in 13 attacks and five blocks.

Delaware wins the 2023 CAA Championship

CAA: Second-seeded Delaware (24-4, 15-3) knocked off Towson (24-6, 16-2) with its program-record 15th win in a row. Lani Mason led with 20 kills in the 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 25-17 victory and had two assists, four blocks and 10 digs. This will be the first NCAA trip for the Blue Hens since 2011.

Yale wins the 2023 Ivy League title

IVY: Yale (21-3) not only won its 17th in a row, the Bulldogs clinched their second straight NCAA trip with a 25-22, 25-23, 21-25, 25-19 victory over Brown (19-7). Audrey Leak led with 20 kills, hitting .333. Mile Yarich had 15 kills, an assist, an ace, 22 digs and two blocks, one solo. Maile Somera had 25 digs, four assists and an ace and Carly Diehl had two kills in eight errorless tries, 56 assists, two blocks and 15 digs.

LIU wins the 2023 NEC Championship

NEC: Fourth-seeded LIU (13-18) knocked off two higher seeds, this time beating second-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson (14-17) and will go into the tournament despite a losing record after winning 25-20, 21-25, 25-14, 25-13. Camilia Melendez led the Sharks with 15 kills and Amaris Smith had 13.

Grand Canyon wins the 2023 WAC Championship

WAC: Grand Canyon (23-7), which lost both regular-season matches to Stephen F. Austin (29-4), came away with a 25-18, 20-25, 29-27, 25-18 victory for its first WAC title. The Lopes, who will make the program’s first NCAA appearance, were led by Tatum Parrott, who had a career-high 30 kills, hitting .303, to go with an assist, an ace, 19 digs and two blocks, one solo. Klaire Mitchell had three kills in five errorless tries, 49 assists, a block and 25 digs.

SFA had won 18 in a row.

Around the nation

ATLANTIC 10: Dayton (30-2) plays Loyola Chicago (19-11) for the NCAA bid. Dayton won its 25th in a row, a sweep of Saint Louis as Taylor Russell had 20 kills, an ace, four blocks and four digs, and Lexie Almodovar had 18 kills, two assists, three aces and 22 digs. Dayton has won 30 matches for the fifth time since it joined Division I in 1984 and first since 2016. Loyola, which has won 17 in a row, beat VCU in four.

CONFERENCE USA: Top-seeded Western Kentucky (29-4) won its semifinal match over UTEP 25-23, 25-15, 21-25, 15-25, 15-5 and will play NM State (21-9) in the final. The Aggies beat FIU in four. WKU, which has won 23 in a row, hit an uncharacteristically low .205. Pagie Briggs led with 18 kills, an assist, two aces, 12 digs and two blocks, one solo. NM State hit .402 and got 15 kills from Ryleigh Whitekettle, who had one error in 17 attacks to hit .824 and had two digs and three blocks.

HORIZON: The final pits top-seeded Wright State (20-10) against No. 2 Green Bay. Wright State swept Cleveland State while Green Bay had to go five to get past Northern Kentucky. Callie Martin had 15 kills with no errors in 27 swings for Wright State to go with five blocks and five digs, and Sam Ott had 14 kills with no errors in 27 attacks, two blocks and nine digs. Hannah Vanden Berg led Green Bay with 22 kills, two assists, an ace, two blocks and eight digs.

MAC: Action continues with semifinals as Western Michigan plays Toledo and Buffalo plays Bowling Green. Click her for the MAC Championship website.

MEAC: Top-seeded Coppin State (26-4) plays No. 2 Howard (17-13) for the title at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU. Coppin State sweptt UMES as Laila Ibrahim had 11 kills, hit .421 and had five blocks, to make her the program’s all-time blocks leader. Howard hit .371 and swept Delaware State as Jennifer Bolden had 13 kills with one error in 21 attacks and three blocks.

SOCON: Fourth-seeded Samford (16-14) swept No. 1 The Citadel and third-seeded Wofford (22-7) swept seventh-seeded Chattanooga and will play in Sunday’s final. Samford’s Kaleigh Meritt had 14 kills, two aces, a block and 10 digs and Gracie Lynn Butler had 13 kills, an assist, two solo blocks and 13 digs. Wofford had six players with six or more kills.

SOUTHLAND: Top-seeded Southeastern Louisiana (27-4) plays second-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (22-9) for the title. Southeastern, which has won 21 in a row, beat HCU in four as Kailin Newsome, who had 12 digs, and Cicily Hidalgo had 18 kills each. Hidaldo hit .368 and had two assists, 15 digs and three blocks, two solo. TAMUCC swept McNeese as Kyndal Payne had 14 kills, 10 digs and two blocks, one solo, and Leah Stolfus had 12 kills, hit .345, and had four blocks, two solo. 

SWAC: Alabama State, which went 16-0 in the regular season and won the title by three games, was upset in four by fifth-seeded Jackson State (16-12). JSU will play third-seeded Florida A&M (18-13), which knocked off second-seeded Prairie View in five. Alexis Williams had 27 kills for JSU to go with an assist, three aces, three blocks and 20 digs. FAMU got 18 kills from Brooke Lynn Watts, who had 12 digs.

SUN BELT: The two top teams from the East will play for the title after top-seeded Coastal Carolina (21-9) swept South Alabama and James Madison (21-8) got past Texas State in five. Coastal overcame South Alabama’s Hannah Maddux, who had 25 kills, an ace, five digs and four blocks. JMU’s Sophie Davis had 23 kills, hit .455, and had an ace, seven digs and six blocks, two solo. In the regular season in mid-October, Coastal swept visiting JMU and then day beat the Dukes in five.

BIG EAST: The regular season finishes Sunday when No. 14 Creighton plays host to Butler. Marquette went up a half-game on the Bluejays on Saturday by sweeping Seton Hall Georgetown won in five at Providence as Mary Grace Goyena had 18 kills and Peyton Whilhite had 17 … UConn beat Villanova in five as Emma Werkmeister had 17 kills, an assist, an ace, five blocks and eight digs … St. John’s won in four at DePaul behind 19 kills from Erin Jones, who had five assists, two aces, a solo block and nine digs.

BIG WEST: The regular season ended with first-place UC Santa Barbara sweeping UC Riverside as Michelle Ohwobete had 14 kills, hit .444, and had an ace, two blocks and nine digs … In Hawai’i’s four-set win over visiting Long Beach State, Amber Igiede had 21 kills, hit .432 and had four blocks and three digs … UC Irvine won in four at CSU BakersfieldCal State Fullerton won in four at CSUN as Lyla Traylor had 15 kills, hit .303 and had a block and 12 digs … Cal Poly beat visiting UC Davis in five.

Sacramento State wins the 2023 Big Sky Conference Championship

BIG SKY: Sacramento State (20-10, 13-3) won 24-26, 25-22, 24-26, 25-15, 15-13 at Montana to win the regular-season outright.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC: SMU, which already clinched, swept North Texas. Memphis beat visiting Temple in five as Temple’s Taylor Davenport had 28 kills, hitting .373, to go with two aces, seven digs and a block.

Raina Terry hits for Illinois against Michigan in front of the video board showing it live/Zach Schuster photo