UNLV rolling at 17-2, No. 1 Wisconsin entertains No. 3 Gophers

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Wisconsin's Haleigh Nelson and coach Kelly Sheffield are ranked No. 1 and welcome No. 3 Minnesota to Madison on Wednesday

UNLV keeps winning.

The Rebels went to New Mexico on Tuesday and their 25-16, 19-25, 32-30, 25-16 victory left them 17-2 overall, 6-1 in the Mountain West.

UNLV, the No. 20 team in the VolleyballMag.com Mid-Major Poll, is ranked 18th in the latest NCAA RPI. Only San Diego (5) and BYU (13) have better RPIs than the Rebels among non power-five teams.

“What an intense match,” UNLV coach Cindy Fredrick said. “We came out so strong with good passing and hitting. In the second set, we just could not block and (New Mexico) took advantage of that. In the third, we showed so much toughness.”

UNLV got 20 kills from Bree Hammel, who hit .255. She also had 10 digs. Alyssa Wing added 10 kills and seven digs, while Ashley Owens had nine kills and Sadie Stutzman and Elsa Descamps had eight each. Descamps also had four blocks.

“We got such great hitting by Bree in sets three and four. Ashley and Elsa kept their block honest and Elisa (Woinowsky), Laura (Butler) and Carly (Riehl) played awesome defense tonight.”

This was the first of four consecutive road matches for UNLV, which goes to Utah State on Saturday.

Back to the other results from Tuesday, including Western Kentucky’s exciting win over Lipscomb — but first Wednesday’s matches to watch:

There’s a huge one brewing in Madison in the Big Ten when No. 3 Minnesota (13-2, 5-1 Big Ten) plays at Wisconsin (14-1, 6-0), which is ranked No. 1 for the first time. It’s at 8 p.m. and will be shown on the Big Ten Network.

Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield is going after his 100th victory with the Badgers. His team has won 18 consecutive Big Ten matches since losing to — wait for it — Minnesota on October 17, 2015. That was also the last time Wisconsin lost at home.

Also on tonight’s schedule, there are two other Big Ten matches when No. 14 Michigan State plays at No. 24 Illinois and No. 18 Michigan goes to Northwestern. The Michigan State-Illinois battle should be nothing short of everything you expect from two ranked B1G teams this year, especially since both teams are part of the four-team 4-2 logjam behind the leaders, Wisconsin and Penn State (6-0) and Nebraska and Minnesota (5-1).

In the only Pac-12 match of the night, No. 20 UCLA is at No. 16 Oregon. Oregon is hot and tied with Washington State for the league lead at 5-1, while UCLA is 3-3 and needing to win on the road.

The Big 12 is busy.

No. 4 Texas goes to Baylor in a match that marks a huge opportunity for the home team to make a statement. The Bears are 9-1 in Waco and this one has pay attention written all over it. Also, No. 4 Kansas entertains Kansas State. Oklahoma plays at Texas Tech, and West Virginia goes out of conference to play at Robert Morris.

The only ACC match of the night has Duke at Wake Forest.

There are two SEC matches on the schedule, Georgia at Auburn and Mississippi State at Alabama.

Western Kentucky defensive specialist Kaelin Grimes (17) dives for the ball against Lipscomb/Steve Roberts photo, WKU Athletics
Western Kentucky’s Kaelin Grimes goes for the pancake against Lipscomb/Steve Roberts photo, WKU Athletics

There was an interesting non-conference matchup in Bowling Green on Tuesday when No. 25 Western Kentucky beat visiting Lipscomb.

WKU of Conference USA, No. 3 in the VBM Mid-Major Poll, improved to 18-2 with a 15-25, 25-23, 28-26, 16-25, 16-14 victory. Lipscomb of the Atlantic Sun, the VBM No. 21 team, is 10-7.

“All I can say about our team is that they never quit because we got our butts handed to us for a lot of the night,” WKU coach Travis Hudson said. “But we did persevere, continued to grind and luckily found a way to win.”

Outside hitter Carlyle Nusbaum led Lipscomb with 22 kills. Right side Taylor Racich added 14, while outside hitter Lauren Anderson and right side Chloe Rogers had 11 apiece.

“It was a great match,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “I am completely proud of our girls to come back on a short rest and have short memories. I don’t have any problems with what anybody on the team did. We fought hard and came up short.

“I asked them to give me everything they have got and they did. Unfortunately, as I told them going into it, sometimes when you go all in it is not going to work out but at least you know where you stand.”

There were C-USA matches Tuesday in a league in which WKU remains alone at the top at 5-0, After Rice saw its eight-matching winning streak broken at Florida Atlantic and Marshall swept visiting FIU, FAU, Rice and Marshall are all 4-1.

Marshall’s Madison Hill led with Thundering Herd with 13 kills and a career-high eight blocks.

In another interesting non-conference match, Iowa State of the Big 12 went to South Dakota and swept the Coyotes 25-11, 25-12, 25-21.

Iowa State, 9-8, gets back to Big 12 business Saturday when Texas Tech visits Ames.

South Dakota is 17-3 and leads the Summit League at 6-0.

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