NCAA roundup: Another WSU upset, Wisconsin escapes Purdue

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CU blockers Joslyn Hayes and Nachede Abu put up the block against USC as Gabby Simpson looks on/Cliff Grassmick, CU staff photographer

Washington State, a red-hot team featured on this site this past Thursday, let the NCAA volleyball world know Friday night the No. 17 Cougar’s success is no fluke.

They won a five-set thriller over visiting No. 9 Stanford, their first over the Cardinal in Pullman since 2002. WSU had 2,522 fans in raucous Bohler Gym who are loving the resurgence their team that is approaching heights it hasn’t reached in a long time.

“It feels absolutely amazing,” WSU senior setter Haley MacDonald said. “Fifth sets were not our thing last year and previous years, so to come out and stay poised and when in the fifth set is awesome. Great victory.”

It has to be pointed out that Stanford star outside Hayley Hodson missed her sixth straight match with an injury — she’s day to day, a spokesperson said — and that Stanford is the only Pac-12 team yet to play a home conference match.

Also Friday, No. 6 San Diego swept visiting No. 11 BYU. The full recap and photos are here.

No. 3 Wisconsin won a tough one at No. 14 Purdue in five sets.

In Boulder, USC upended No. 20 Colorado in four.

Quite a few other ranked teams and their results follow.

First Saturday’s matches of note on a day when 102 are scheduled:

— In the Big Ten, there are two matches where both teams are ranked, No. 22 Michigan at No. 16 Penn State and No. 19 Ohio State at No. 1 Nebraska. Also, No. 3 Wisconsin goes across the state to Indiana, No. 18 Michigan State plays at Rutgers and Iowa goes to Northwestern.

— In the Pac-12, USC gets no rest as it goes to Utah, while No. 21 Oregon travels to Arizona.

— There are three matches in the Big 12, including No. 4 Texas at Kansas State, Oklahoma at TCU and Baylor at No. 8 Kansas.

— The ACC and SEC have busy slates Sunday but no matches on football-crazy Saturday in the South.

— There’s a big one in the Big Sky when Weber State (11-1, 2-1 Big Sky) goes to Northern Arizona (13-3, 3-0), red-hot UNLV (14-1, 3-0 Mountain West) goes to San Jose State (8-7, 1-2), and in the MAC, Northern Illinois (11-4, 3-0 MAC) goes to Eastern Michigan (7-9, 2-1).

Back to Pullman, where senior outside Kyra Holt was unstoppable at the end, hitting a few balls on sets that seemed impossibly far from the net and still tooling the Stanford block.

Holt had 17 kills and had five blocks and became WSU’s all-time scoring leader with a career total of 1,726 points, eclipsing Megan Ganzer’s 2008-11 record of 1,707.5 points.

“We’ve always had the passion,” said Holt, who had 19 attack errors and hit -0.37.

“It’s just believing in ourselves and transitioning from practice to the game, and that’s all we did. We just had to make adjustments to their adjustments later in the game and I think we did that perfectly, that’s why we won. It means everything having the support from everyone in Pullman is just awesome, and it really helps us.”

The balanced WSU offense included 13 kills each from McKenna Woodford and Taylor Mims with Mims hitting .462. She also had eight blocks. Casey Schoenlein added a career-high 12 kills. MacDonald had 33 assists and Nicole Rigoni added 21 as the 6-2 continues to work for WSU.

“It is a huge win against a really good Stanford team,” WSU coach Jen Greeny said. “I felt that our team was really resilient tonight. There were some ups and downs but we stuck with it. And to get it done in five, it is just a tremendous victory for this team, and another step in the right direction.”

Washington State is now 13-2 overall and 3-0 in the Pac-12, while Stanford dropped to 9-3, 3-1. Neither team was particulary sharp on offense — give credit to both being good blocking and defensive teams — but WSU out-hit Stanford .133 to .117.

Stanford freshman opposite Kathryn Plummer finished with a team-high 13 kills and seven blocks, while senior middle Inky Ajanaku added 12 kills and nine blocks. Freshman middle blocker Audriana Fitzmorris registered 11 kills on .400 hitting, six blocks and an ace. Redshirt junior Merete Lutz added 11 kills and six blocks.

Freshman setter Jenna Gray totaled 26 assists and six digs for the Cardinal, while senior setter Kelsey Humphreys tallied 24 assists and an ace. Gray and Plummer earned their first starts of their careers. Freshman libero Morgan Hentz racked-up 20 digs, while freshman Michaela Keefe totaled 13 as Stanford fell to 3-3 in five-set matches this season.

In a key Big Ten matchup of ranked teams, No. 16 Penn State swept No. 18 Michigan State 25-22, 25-20, 25-13. Juniors Simone Lee, Haleigh Washington and Ali Frantti led the Nittany Lions. Lee logged a team-best 12 kills, Frantti had 10 and Washington nine, an ace and two blocks. Lee also had two blocks.

MSU got nine kills and a match-best three blocks from Alyssa Garvelink.

At Purdue, Wisconsin won its 15th Big Ten match in a row and improved to 11-1 overall, 3-0 in the conference. The Boilermakers dropped to 11-3, 1-2).

Wisconsin sophomore Tionna Williams, the reigning Big Ten Defensive player of the week, surprised the Boilermakers by recording a career-high 17 kills and hitting .500 percent. Freshman Molly Haggerty recorded 13 kills, while senior Haleigh Nelson hit 12 kill and junior Kelli Bates hit 10, adding 15 digs for her third double-double this season. Freshman libero M.E. Dodge recorded 13 digs.

Purdue junior Danielle Cuttino led all hitters with a match-high 18 kills on 333 hittingt, while senior Faye Adelaja and sophomore Sherridan Atkinson had 10 kills apiece. Junior Azariah Stahl and redshirt freshman Blake Mohler added eight kills each and  Mohler had a match-high six blocks.

“These guys are hitting over a block,” Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield said of the Purdue offense. “Our blocks are over 10 feet and she (Cuttino) is hitting over and hitting at ridiculous angles.

“What are you going to do, are you going to tell your players to grow? She had some bombs where we just weren’t able to do anything but I loved how even when we were behind there in the fourth and in the fifth, how they’re making some big time swings and our kids kept their composure, they kept looking at each other.

“That Purdue team is good. They’re awfully good and this one is a good win for us, this was a great win for us.”

No. 2 Minnesota rolled past Indiana 25-17, 25-15, 25-17. 

Hannah Tapp had 11 kills and hit .571, while Molly Lohman had nine kills and hit 1.000. Dalianliz Rosado had a match-best 12 digs and three aces. Samantha Seliger-Swenson had 35 assists, two aces and two digs. Alexis Hart and Sarah Wilhite had eight and seven kills respectively.

It’s also worth noting that the Rutgers release said that Michigan edged the Scarlet Knights. Except the scores were 25-9, 25-22, 25-21.

In the Pac-12, No. 12 UCLA won at No. 25 Utah 25-23, 25-22, 25-20 as the Utes were swept for the first time this season.

USC’s win at Colorado included a crazy second set 25-16, 32-34, 26-24, 25-16. USC improved to 9-5, 1-2, while CU is 9-4, 1-2.

USC freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier had 19 kills. Junior opposite hitter Niki Withers had a season-best 16 kills and tied her career high with five blocks. Fellow junior opposite hitter Brittany Abercrombie added and two blocks. Junior middle blocker Jordan Dunn added nine kills and seven blocks and senior middle blocker Elise Ruddins had eight kills and five blocks.

Colorado’s Gabby Simpson recorded her third straight triple-double this season with 12 kills, 27 assists and 11 digs. Joslyn Hayes led with 16 kills and hit .341. Naghede Abu hit .381 with eight kills on 21 errorless attacks. She also led with six blocks, while Alexa Smith and Anna Pfefferle each added five blocks.

“They’re really good,” CU coach Jesse Mahoney said of USC. “When you look across the net, they’re athletic in every position. They’re well coached. We felt like on our home floor, this year, the way we’ve been playing we had a good opportunity to win this match. We’ll get back to the drawing board.

“We have UCLA coming in here on Sunday. Every team in this league is good. There are no nights off. We have to play at a high level sustained for three, four, five sets in order to win against anybody.”

No. 21 Oregon won at Arizona State in five with some crazy set scores: 25-21,17-25, 24-26, 25-9, 15-7. The good news for first-year ASU coach Stevie Mussie was that 4,901 fans came to watch the Wildcats’ home opener.

“I think it was unbelievable,” Mussie said. “To have 4900 people in the stands for a Friday night game at 6 p.m. it just shows how big of a deal volleyball is at Arizona State.”

And Arizona swept Oregon State 25-21, 25-14, 25-18 as the Wildcats were happy to get back senior outside hitter Kalei Mau, who has dealt with a back injury that has cost her five matches, and parts of several others.

In the ACC, No. 10 North Carolina went on the road and swept Georgia Tech 25-19, 28-26, 25-23 behind 15 kills and nine digs from Taylor Leath.

No. 15 Florida State routed visiting Syracuse 25-17, 25-16, 25-16.

Among the ACC matches was Notre Dame beating visiting Duke 25-23, 31-29, 24-26, 25-17 to improve to 3-0 for the first time since joining the league in 2013, and Wake Forest won at Louisville 23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-19, to improve to 2-1 in the league after back-to-back ACC road victories for the first time since 2009.

The only Big 12 match of the night saw Iowa State win at West Virginia 25-20, 22-25, 25-27, 25-19, 17-15. Jess Shaben came up big for the Cyclones with 26 kills, including the match-ender.

In the SEC, among the results was Alabama quietly improved to 13-3 overall, 2-1 in the league, as it went to Georgia and won 32-30, 25-15, 21-25, 30-28. Take note, volleyball world: Krystal Rivers had 38 kills and hit .485.

Finally, Cincinnati, another team featured this past week on this site, swept USF 25-23, 25-20, 25-13 to improve to 7-7 overall, 2-1 in the American Athletic Conference. USF dropped to 10-5, 1-2 in a league that’s wide open. A perfect example was SMU winning at Tulane 21-25, 17-25, 25-15, 25-14, 15-9. Tulane is 9-6, 1-2, while SMU is 10-5, 3-0 and tied with UCF atop the standings. UCF (13-3, 3-0) won at East Carolina, while UConn (12-3, 3-1) tried to keep pace with a sweep at Memphis.

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