NCAA roundup: Iowa off to best start since 1988, FGCU’s streak ends

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Iowa celebrates a point against Purdue/Tork Mason, hawkeyesports.com photo

Different day, same story.

Just the Big Ten being the Big Ten.

Iowa beats No. 17 Purdue and is off to its best start since 1988, the last year of the Ronald Reagan presidency.

No. 14 Ohio State plays its first match since winning at previously unbeaten Nebraska and gets swept at No. 21 Michigan State.

And it wasn’t just the Big Ten.

Florida Gulf Coast had the nation’s longest winning streak, 15 matches. Not anymore after losing to Kennesaw State.

Arkansas State had a 20-match Sun Belt Conference win streak broken at Texas State.

Volleyball pales, however, when you get to Cal. The Bears dropped to 0-5 in the Pac-12 after getting swept by Utah, but that didn’t matter Friday when you consider the heartwarming story of freshman Savannah Rennie getting back on the court less than five months after getting a liver transplant.

First Saturday’s schedule, where Iowa tries to win its fourth consecutive Big Ten match, a remarkable goal considering the Hawkeyes were 2-18 in the league last year and 6-14 in 2014.

Also in the Big Ten on Saturday, No. 24 Illinois is at No. 2 Wisconsin, Maryland is at Michigan State and Rutgers plays at No. 15 Penn State.

The Big 12 is busy Saturday. No. 4 Texas plays host to Iowa State, while Texas Tech goes to No. 6 Kansas. TCU goes to Kansas State and in a rematch of Friday’s Oklahoma sweep over West Virginia, the Sooners stay in Morgantown and play at West Virginia again.

In the ACC, where No. 9 North Carolina beat No. 15 Florida State on Friday, the only match of the day has Clemson at Virginia.

The SEC? C’mon, it’s a football Saturday. The Pac-12 also has the day off.

Loxley Keala, 10, and Iowa had a big night against Purdue/Tork Mason, hawkeyesports.com photo
Happy Iowa/Tork Mason, hawkeyesports.com photo

Big Big Ten win for Iowa

Back to Iowa, which has quietly improved to 13-4 overall, 3-2 in the Big Ten, after beating Purdue 25-22, 25-27, 20-25, 25-21, 15-13. It left the Boilermakers looking for answers as they dropped to 11-5, 1-4.

“They are such an inspiring group,” Iowa coach Bond Shymansky said. “It was really a great balanced night for our entire team. We had a great crowd; there is so much energy in Carver and around the program right now. We are so proud of our group. What a great start to the weekend.”

No wonder he was excited. It was Iowa’s first win over a ranked opponent since Sept. 12, 2015 (No. 25 Texas A&M). Redshirt-freshman Meghan Buzzerio led with 13 kills, while senior Ashley Mariani and sophomore Reghan Coyle had 12 each. Senior Lauren Brobst added 11 and junior Jess Janota had 10. Mariani also hit .429 and Janota had seven blocks, one solo.

“The beauty of what we did tonight was really the balance,” Shymansky said. “To have five players reach double digits in kills and to not have to count on one player was huge. The most important thing that we were doing was focusing on what was happening on our side of the net.”

Purdue had an 11-9 lead in the fifth set, but after a timeout, Coyle had two kills, Brobst and Buzzerio had one each and setter Loxley Keala served an ace in the comeback.

“Momentum is so important,” Shymansky said. “It’s important in any sport, and it’s especially important in Big Ten volleyball. Now that we are on this three-match win streak, we need turn right back around tomorrow and make it four against a really tough Indiana team.”

Michigan State put it on the visiting Buckeyes 25-18, 25-20, 25-23 to improve to 14-3, 3-2 in the Big Ten. Ohio State is 12-5, 2-3.

Michigan State got 14 kills and eight digs from Autumn Bailey and eight kills on .533 hitting (8-0-15) from Allyssah Fitterer, who also had two blocks. Senior Chloe Reinig had a match -high six blocks and added five kills, while Alyssa Garvelink had seven kills and four blocks on the night. Ohio State’s Taylor Sandbothe had 12 kills for the Buckeyes, who hit .198.

Everyone who beats Maryland earns it. In this case, No. 23 Michigan beat the visiting Terps 27-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-21 to improve to 14-3, 3-2, while Maryland is 8-9 and the best 0-5 you could imagine.

“I thought we did some really good things tonight, but we made too many errors late in the game,” Maryland coach Steve Aird said. “We are growing up, learning and competing hard. Everyone understands how tough this conference is. We just have to keep working.”

Three Michigan players had season-high performances, Adeja Lambert (18 kills), Katherine Mahlke (11 kills) and Kelly Murphy (12 digs).

Maryland freshman outside hitter Gia Milana, who is from Michigan, led the Terrapins with 16 kills and 15 digs. Junior middle blocker Hailey Murray and sophomore opposite hitter Angel Gaskin each had seven kills.

Finally in the Big Ten, third-ranked Nebraska beat visiting Indiana 25-23, 25-13, 25-17 before 8,019 in the Devaney Center.

The Huskers (13-1, 4-1 Big Ten) got nine kills, three digs and three blocks from Kadie Rolfzen on .438 hitting. Briana Holman celebrated her birthday with six kills and two blocks, and Mikaela Foecke and Amber Rolfzen each posted five kills. Rolfzen also had a team-high five blocks.

Kelly Hunter had 28 assists, six digs and three blocks. Justine Wong-Orantes had eight digs, while Kenzie Maloney had seven and Sydney Townsend had four. Townsend also served an ace during a long service run in set two to help spark the Huskers.

Indiana (12-6, 1-4 Big Ten) was led by Elizabeth Asdell’s nine kills.

Stanford's Merete Lutz and teammates enjoy a big point against Colorado/Bob Drebin, ISI Photography photo
Stanford enjoys a big point against Colorado/Bob Drebin, ISI Photography photod

Washington, Stanford get key Pac-12 victories

In a big Pac-12 battle, No. 8 Washington went to No. 20 Oregon and came away with a 25-20, 25-18, 25-23 sweep.

“I wish people knew how hard that is, to come in on the road against an outstanding offensive team like Oregon and get a win, let alone in three sets,” Washington coach Keegan Cook said.

“There’s a lot of stories behind the story. We had a tough week of practice, and some people made some improvements. People making one more play than they made last week.”

Washington improved to 13-2, 3-2 in the Pac-12, while Oregon dropped to 11-3, 4-1, as its 11-match win streak ended.

“I think we played like we were trying to protect something. (Winning 11 straight) had not even crossed my mind,” Oregon coach Jim Moore said. “But that’s what it looked like. It looked like we were trying to keep winning, not lose, so we looked like we were protecting, and UW did a great job. They were the aggressors.”

Washington freshmen Shayne McPherson, 22 digs, and Kara Bajema, 12 kills and .450 hitting percentage, led the Huskies.

Junior Courtney Schwan led all players with 14 kills, hitting .262, and added 10 digs. Tia Scambray also had nine kills and eight digs with a couple blocks and an ace, and junior Bailey Tanner had 30 assists and added six digs.

Taylor Agost and Lindsey Vander Weide led the Ducks with eight kills each but their team hit a season-low .177.

Stanford may have lost star Hayley Hodson for the season, but the No. 7 Cardinal remained the toughest blocking team in the country en route to a 25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 25-18 victory over No. 19 Colorado.

It was Stanford’s first home match in 26 days as it improved to 10-3, 4-1, while the Buffs dropped to 10-5, 2-3.

Stanford, which leads the nation in blocks per set, had in the four sets and held Colorado to a .155 attack percentage.

Stanford shook up its lineup, starting Kathryn Plummer on the outside and Tami Alade in the middle. It paid off as Plummer notched her first career double-double with a match-high 15 kills and a career-best 16 digs. She also had five blocks and her first collegiate ace. Alade  finished with a career-high nine blocks and five kills.

Junior opposite Merete Lutz hit a team-high .407 with 12 kills and just one error on 27 swings. She also had five blocks and two digs. Freshman Audriana Fitzmorris added nine kills and four blocks, while redshirt senior Inky Ajanaku had eight kills, seven blocks and the first two aces of her career.

Alexa Smith led CU with 11 kills added 13 digs. Naghede Abu and Joslyn Hayes had nine kills each.

No. 10 Washington State went on the road to Oregon State and came away with a 19-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-18 victory to improve to 15-2 and, more important, the best conference start in school history at 5-0.

WSU senior Kyra Holt had 15 kills and 11 digs with an ace and three blocks. McKenna Woodford had 12 kills and eight digs while Hailey Bethune added eight kills, hitting .368, and had six blocks.

Sophomore Taylor Mims had seven kills with no errors in 16 attacks to hit .438, with one ace, and had a career-high 11 blocks which ties Claire Martin’s 2015 total of 11 blocks at Oregon State for fourth-best in WSU all-time records in a four-set match. Friday night Martin contributed four kills and four blocks while Casey Schoenlein added six kills and five blocks. Haley MacDonald had a double-double with 24 assists and 11 digs and Nicole Rigoni had 20 assists. Alexis Dirige had 18 digs.

Oregon State was led by Mary-Kate Marshall’s 16 kills. Lanesha Reagan had 12 kills, 10 digs and three blocks.

There was an upset in the Pac-12 when Arizona went to USC and swept the No. Women of Troy 25-20, 25-20, 25-20. Both teams are 11-6, while Arizona is 3-2 in the league and USC 3-3.

“Solid match for us,” Arizona coach Dave Rubio said. “We were good in all aspects. We served well and our offense was good. Our pin hitters did a nice job tonight.”

Arizona’s offense was expected to get a boost this week with the return of Kendra Dahlke and the improved health of Kalei Mau, who have both missed extended time in recent weeks. Friday marked just the fourth time Dahlke, Mau and Katarina Pilepic, Arizona’s top three scorers, have been on the floor together for an entire match.

The Wildcats hit .356, their highest conference hitting percentage in the Pac-12 era. Dahlke led with 17 kills on .278 hitting, Mau had 12 kills on .276 hitting. Also: McKenzie Jacobson (6 kills, .750 hitting), Devyn Cross (5 kills, .500 hitting) and Pilepic (6 kills, .500 hitting).

“Having everyone out there and healthy certainly makes a difference,” Rubio said. “It’s what we’ve been missing. It gives us just enough to get us over the hump. We’ve lost a lot of close matches. With these guys, it gives us more offense. One or two points per game will make a difference.”

Niki Withers led USC with 13 kills and hit .409.

UCLA junior Reily Buechler hit a season-best .571 with 12 kills and no errors in 21 attempts to go with four digs and three blocks, as the 18th-ranked Bruins swept Arizona State 25-23, 25-12, 25-22.

As mentioned, Savannah Rennie returned for Cal, which came up short against visiting Utah 25-23, 25-20, 25-16. The Cal recap and accompanying Pac-12 video report is worth your time.

http://www.calbears.com/news/2016/10/7/volleyball-rennie-makes-college-debut.aspx

North Carolina celebrates the final point against Florida State
North Carolina celebrates the final point against Florida State

Tar Heels sweep in key ACC battle

The ACC has two ranked teams and they were both unbeaten in league play. So the sweep by No. 9 North Carolina over visiting No. 16 Florida State 25-12, 25-22, 25-21 is no small thing.

UNC is 13-2, 5-0 atop the league, while FSU dropped to 11-3, 4-1.

“This was a big win,” UNC coach Joe Sagula said. “We have to be able to be good at home and it was such a relief to be playing in a friendly environment with a great crowd supporting us. I’m really proud of our team, mostly because I think we got better in this match. The way we’ve been playing, I told the team it seems like a new start for us. We’ve been on the road for such a long time that it’s like a new season is starting. I like the way we started.”

Sophomore Taylor Leath led Carolina with a match-high 13 kills to go with 12 digs. Taylor Fricano and Julia Scoles had nine kills apiece while combining for just three errors, as Fricano hit .412 and Scoles .320.

Mara Green and Milica Kubura had eight kills each for FSU.

“I am really disappointed in the loss tonight,” FSU coach Chris Poole said. “We need to regroup and find a way to move forward against NC State on Sunday. North Carolina played a great match and had a great crowd that really kept them energized. We couldn’t sustain a higher level of play and have to be more consistent if we want to win over a strong Wolfpack team on the road.”

Also in the ACC on Friday, Notre Dame swept Syracuse for Jim McLaughlin’s 600th career victory, Virginia Tech swept Wake Forest, NC State beat Miami in four, Georgia Tech swept Virginia and Duke held off Pittsburgh in four. Notre Dame kept pace with UNC atop the standings at 5-0, while Pitt dropped into a second-place tied with FSU at 4-1.

Kentucky cruises

In the SEC, the 25th-ranked Wildcats rolled over Mississippi State 25-20, 25-20, 25-22 for its ninth win in a row. Freshman Leah Edmond posted 19 kills – one shy of matching a career high, while Kaz Brown added 10 for the Wildcats, 12-4 and atop the league at 5-0.

Also in the SEC on Friday, Georgia beat South Carolina in four in a match that was moved to Georgia because of Hurricane Matthew, and Missouri won for the ninth time in a row — the last six by sweeps — as the Tigers beat Auburn 25-22, 25-21, 25-15.

Kelby Jackson is a digging machine for Radford, which won again/Radford photo
Kelby Jackson is a digging machine for Radford, which won again/Radford photo

Oklahoma, Dayton, Radford win

In the only Big 12 match of Friday, Oklahoma got 18 kills from Madison Ward in a 25-19, 26-24, 25-18 victory. The same teams play at West Virginia today.

Dayton lost the first set of its Atlantic 10 match at Rhode Island, but improved to 17-1 overall, 4-0 in the league by winning 19-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-21. URI dropped to 9-8, 4-1.

Radford is now 15-3, 6-0 in the Big South after sweeping Winthrop in a tough one 25-22, 28-26, 26-24. Kelby Jackson had 12 digs to move into a tie for second all-time in Radford history with 1,461 digs. Teammate Maddie Palmer had 23 kills, three aces and three blocks.

Two streaks were broken Friday.

FGCU had the longest in the nation, but the Eagles came up short at Kennesaw State in an Atlantic Sun match 22-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-20. Kennesaw State is 10-8, 4-0 ASUN, while FGCU is 16-3, 3-1.

Texas State pulled even with defending league champion Arkansas State at 4-1 in the Sun Belt as it improved to 11-9 overall with the 25-22, 26-24, 22-25, 25-16 victory. A-State is 12-7.

Also, Creighton won its fifth in a row by beating Villanova 20-25, 25-12, 25-19, 25-23, as the Bluejays avenged their lone Big East loss from 2015. Creighton is 11-6, 5-0, while Villanova is 12-7, 3-3.

And in the Big East SMU got 22 kills from Katie Hegarty to beat visiting Connecticut in four and stay atop the league at 12-5, 5-0. UConn is 12-4, 3-2.

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