A busy Saturday in men’s college action saw Ohio State wrap up the MIVA regular-season title, plus Conference Carolinas has a new occupant of the league’s top spot. We’ll also check in on the college beach scene where USC extended its impressive winning streak.
Ohio State clinches: We start with top-ranked Ohio State taking down McKendree by a 25-18, 26-24, 25-15 count in Columbus to clinch the MIVA regular-season title.
Ohio State moved to 25-2 overall and a perfect 14-0 in MIVA action. It’s the Buckeyes’ 26th conference crown and the win was No. 29 in a row against MIVA opponents dating back to the 2016 season.
Christy Blough directed Ohio State to a .437 hitting percentage on 42 kills. Miles Johnson and Nicolas Szerszen led the way on offense. Johnson had 16 kills and hit .423, while Szerszen had 11 kills and hit over .400. Matt Dorn and Driss Guessous combined to register 11 kills on only 15 swings.
Ohio State, which celebrated senior night, added eight aces with Johnson and Szerszen registering three each.
Elsewhere in the MIVA, Loyola Chicago shook off a loss to Grand Canyon the night before by returning the favor in a 25-21, 25-22, 25-18 win in Chicago.
Loyola moved to 15-10 overall and 8-6 in conference, while Grand Canyon dropped to 16-10 overall and 11-5 in conference.
Collin Mahan and Ben Plaisted each had 12 kills. Mahan hit .579 with only one error on 19 swings. Loyola hit .312 as a team. Ian Cowen added 30 assists, while Plaisted had eight digs and Avery Aylsworth had seven.
Ashton Kings’ nine kills led Grand Canyon.
In other MIVA play, Quincy edged Fort Wayne 3-2, while Ball State was a 3-1 winner over Lindenwood. Jarrod Kelso’s 20 kills and .630 hitting percentage led Quincy (7-19, 2-12). Edgardo Cartagena had 11 kills and Blake Reardon added 10 to help Ball State move to 17-8 overall and 8-6 in MIVA action.
MPSF: A light night in the MPSF saw Stanford clinch a conference playoff berth after a 3-2 win against UC San Diego. The Cardinal trailed 2-1 on their home court before engineering the comeback win.
Stanford now has appeared in the postseason in nine of the past 10 years under coach John Kosty.
Gabriel Vega, a fifth-year senior, led the Cardinal with a career-high 21 kills while hitting .362. He also had seven digs and two blocks. Vega had 10 kills in the fourth set and went a perfect 5-for-5 hitting in the tiebreaker. Kevin Rakestraw added 11 kills, four blocks and four digs and hit .450.
UC San Diego fell to 7-17 overall and 3-13 in MPSF action. Ian Colbert led San Diego with 16 kills and hit .324.
No. 6 UCLA also was extended to the limit in Riverside but came away with a 3-2 win over Cal Baptist. Jake Arnitz led UCLA with a season-high 21 kills.
UCLA won its seventh match in a row and moved to 17-7 overall and 10-6 in MPSF play. Michael Fisher finished with a season-high 11 kills and hit .429 to help the Bruins. Mitch Stahl also added 11 kills and hit .389. JT Hatch added 13 digs. UCLA connected on 12 service aces.
EIVA: Four matches were on tap Saturday in the EIVA. Penn State moved to 8-2 in EIVA play with a 3-1 win over New Jersey Institute of Technology. Aidan Albrecht and Calvin Mende each had 13 kills to lead the Nittany Lions, while Chris Nugent added 12 kills and hit .407. Royce Clemens added 13 digs.
Jabarry Goodridge had 23 kills to pace NJIT, which fell to 13-9 overall and 6-5 in EIVA play.
In Saint Francis’ 3-2 win at home against Princeton, Jeff Hogan led the way for the Flash with 19 kills, six digs and two blocks. He also hit .343. Daniel Ford added 47 assists and 10 digs for his second double-double in a row. Gabe Woffindin had 10 digs. Stephen Braswell had 15 kills, while Michael Fisher had 14 kills and three aces.
Saint Francis moved to 11-14 and 6-4 in EIVA play, while Princeton, led by Kendall Ratter’s 17 kills, dropped to 10-12 and 6-5.
In George Mason’s 3-2 win at home against Sacred Heart, Jack Wilson (14 kills) and Sam Greenslade (12 kills) led the way for the victors. Greenslade made only one error on 24 swings (.458). Brian Negron had 42 assists and Johnny Gomez had 18 digs. Mason moved to 12-11 overall and 5-5 in EIVA action.
Christopher DeLucie’s 17 kills led Sacred Heart, which also received 44 assists from Eduardo Zardo and 12 digs from Joshua Ayzenberg. Taylor Bloomquist had nine block assists. Sacred Heart fell to 12-9 overall and 5-5 in conference.
Harvard improved to 6-4 in conference play with a 3-1 win at Wehrle Arena in Charleston, W. Va., against host Charleston. Erik Johnson had 13 kills, while Casey White had 11. Harvard had 50 kills in the match and hit .432.
Conference Carolinas: A full slate of Conference Carolinas action Saturday saw Barton ovetake King for first place in the loop. Barton was a 25-20, 17-25, 25-21, 23-25, 15-9 winner at Wilson (N.C.) Gym.
Barton moved to 18-5 overall and 15-2 in CC play, while King fell to 25-3 and 14-2 in CC action. Aleksa Brkovic had 16 kills and hit .389 to lead Barton. Angelos Mandilaris had 11 kills, while Vasilis Mandilaris had 10 kills. Federico Pagilara had 50 assists and Jonathan Novoa-Miralles had 21 digs. Justice Lord had eight block assists.
Jeff Sprayberry had 17 kills, while Kiel Bell added 11 kills and Eddie Moushikhian and Jon Wheaton each had 10 kills. King hit only .126 in the match. Nick Drooker had 48 assists and Jimmy Nuckolls had 16 digs.
Elsewhere in Conference Carolinas-related action, Mount Olive was a 3-0 winner against Lees-McRae, Limestone downed Pfeiffer 3-0, Belmont Abbey scored a 3-1 win against North Greenville while Coker was a 3-0 winner over Emmanuel in non-conference play.
USC beach extends streak to 48: No. 1 USC extended its winning streak to 48 duals in a row with a 5-0 win over San Francisco in women’s beach action at Main Beach in Santa Cruz, Calif.
USC moved to 18-0 with the win. Seniors Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes were 21-9, 21-4 winners in the third match, which clinched the win for the Trojans. Claes and Hughes now have won 95 matches in a row.
Big West Challenge: First-day results of the Big West Challenge at Huntington Beach, Calif., saw No. 6 Long Beach State defeat Sacramento State 5-0 and No. 5 Hawai’i 3-2. Hawai’i also scored a 4-1 win over Cal Poly. Cal State Northridge defeated Sacramento State 4-1, while Poly defeated Northridge 3-2.
Long Beach State moved to 15-3 overall, while Hawaii fell to 16-4. It was the first time Long Beach State and Hawai’i have met since the championship match of the Big West tournament last year.
“Today was a good day,” Long Beach State coach Mike Campbell told VBM’s Ed Chan at the tournament. “I think we had a couple really tough losses—3-2 nail-biters to Pepperdine and UCLA. A lot of it came down to inexperience and immaturity. It was really nice to see the opposite today. It was great to see our kids step up in the three pairs we won against really good competition, a fantastic team. It’s fun to see our team mature and grow from the experience of losing and use that in a more positive direction in winning.
“I think we are doing really well. They are executing at a high level. The errors we’re making are really fixable and controllable and pretty aggressive. That’s the attitude I definitely want for the team. I don’t want them holding anything back. I like the direction they are moving in, in terms of our understanding of beach volleyball.”
In the match featuring the Big West’s two heavyweights, Long Beach State’s Nele Barber and Rachel Nieto were 21-18, 22-20 winners at No. 1. Sasha Karelov and Kobi Pekich were 21-15, 21-15 winners at No. 2 for Long Beach. Emily Maglio and Laurel Weaver were 21-15, 21-15 winners for Hawai’i at No. 3, while Morea Wagner and Heather Weiss were 21-14, 21-17 winners at No. 4 for Long Beach. Ari Homayun and Carly Kan were 21-13, 21-16 winners at No. 5 for Hawaii.
“Today we were a little up and down,” said Hawaii coach Jeff Hall. “I think we let one get away against Long Beach. They wanted it more than we did. They deserved to win. They were better today than us. I like how we responded with a 4-1 win against Cal Poly—a team that’s improving and well-coached (by beach great Todd Rogers).
“Individually, each person has to execute a little better. Our partnerships are right, it’s just about execution, staying into the skill set and what I call segmented thinking. Stay in the pass until you’ve made the pass. Stay in the set until you have the set. And then overhead, make sure you’re going for what you’re trying to go for. We lost sideout a little bit. We can get better at it, that’s what we are working on.”
At Georgia State: No. 7 LSU won a pair of matches at the Georgia State Diggin’ Duals tournament at the GSU Complex.
LSU scored wins over No. 10 Georgia State and Jacksonville State to extend its winning streak to 10 matches.
“We had a really good day today,” LSU coach Russell Brock said. “I’m proud of our group for coming together to win both matches. We have been grinding against great competition all year and I think that confidence from playing great teams over and over pulled us through the Georgia State match. Georgia State is such a well-coached team and are always incredibly disciplined. They never give points away so to beat a team at their place is a real accomplishment.”
LSU’s No. 4 team of Cati Leak and Maddie Ligon won twice and moved to 10-3 on the season, with half their wins coming against teams ranked in the Top 12 in the nation.
FIU Surf & Turf: Tulane wrapped up play in the FIU Surf & Turf Invitational at Lummus Park Courts in Miami.
Tulane went 1-2 against three opponents to move to 15-8 overall.
“We played some really good volleyball against terrific opponents, but fell sort of making enough plays to beat them,” said Tulane coach Wayne Holly. “As good as we are, we have a lot to improve upon to get to the next level and we will continue that process in practice over the next week.”
Tulane lost 4-1 to No. 15 FIU, defeated New Orleans 5-0 and lost 5-0 to No. 5 UCLA. UCLA’s Nicole McNamara and Megan McNamara were 21-17, 21-18 winners over Tulane’s Madeline Mertz and Lan Nguyen at No. 1.
Also in Miami, No. 12 Arizona State recorded a pair of wins over New Orleans and Florida Atlantic.
The Sun Devils downed New Orleans 4-1 and No. 14 Florida Atlantic 3-2 before losing to No. 4 Florida State by a 5-0 count.
Arizona State seniors Bianca Arellano and Whitney Follette won five matches over the weekend, while the No. 2 pair of Oluoma Okaro and Madison Berridge won two matches on Saturday.
UNC Wilmington Beach Blast: Host UNCW split a pair of matches at its own Beach Blast held at Dig & Dive.
The Seahawks were 4-1 winners against Mercer before dropping a 3-2 match against College of Charleston.
“Mercer was an absolute battle with our No. 2, 3, and 4s winning in three sets,” UNCW coach Amy Bambenek said. “Bella (Borgiotti) and Halle (Hunt) made their debut at our five’s pairing and had a solid two-set win against Mercer. Against Charleston, Tanna (Aljoe) and Nicole (Lott) and Sydney Alvis and Sarah Kelly played tough defensively to earn the win in two sets. The other matches could have gone either way, but we came up just a bit short. Overall, the entire event was a huge success with a good turnout of energetic fans.”