Nebraska evened the score with Ohio State on a relatively calm and semi-predictable Friday in the Big Ten.
But not in the Pac-12. No, things are nuts in the Pac-12, where three unranked teams pulled off road upsets as Arizona won at No. 12 Stanford, Colorado won at No. 13 Washington State and USC won at No. 9 Oregon.
Said USC coach Mick Haley afterward, “If everything works out this weekend we could have eight teams tied for first place in this conference. There’s that possibility.”
In a battle for the top of the ACC, eighth-ranked North Carolina got all it could handle at Notre Dame before escaping wth a five-set victory.
All the other ranked teams that played won Friday and there is starting to be some separation in some of the non-power-five leagues, like American now 8-0 in the Patriot League after the Eagles swept Loyola for their ninth consecutive victory.
But first, a look ahead to Saturday’s matches.
In the Big Ten, top-ranked Wisconsin goes to No. 18 Michigan, No. 3 Minnesota plays at No. 14 Michigan State and Northwestern plays at No. 24 Illinois. Neither Penn State, Ohio State nor Purdue get time to recover, because Penn State goes to Indiana, Iowa visits Columbus and Rutgers plays at Purdue.
There is only one match in the Pac-12, when Arizona State goes to Stanford, and just one in the ACC, where Virginia plays at Duke.
In the Big 12, there four matches and No. 6 Kansas at TCU could be interesting. Texas Tech goes to Iowa State, Baylor is at West Virginia and Kansas State goes to Oklahoma.
The SEC is off on football Saturday.
There are plenty of other big matches happening Saturday outside the power-five conferences. In the West Coast Conference, No. 5 San Diego goes to Portland, which is coming off its big Thursday-night upset of No. 11 BYU, while BYU goes to Gonzaga.
Dayton, now 19-1, puts its 6-0 Atlantic-10 mark on the line at Davidson.
Pac-12: Arizona snaps long streak
Start with the Pac-12, where suddenly Arizona is riding a three-match road winning streak after winning last weekend at USC and UCLA and then Friday. The Wildcats won at Stanford 25-21, 28-26, 25-27, 25-21 to improve to 13-6 overall — remember the Wildcats lost their first three matches of the season — and 5-2 in the Pac-12. Stanford is 10-5, 4-3.
It was the first time Arizona beat Stanford after 19 defeats, a streak started in 2005.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” Arizona coach Dave Rubio said. “I don’t think it was our best match of the year but we found a way to grind it out and found a way to win.”
Setter Penina Snuka had 59 assists — most in the league this year — and 19 digs as her team hit .273 and had a season-high 73 kills.
“Penina and Laura (Larson, 14 digs) refused to let us lose,” said Rubio. “Penina’s defense was amazing. Maybe the best I’ve ever seen – she was at a whole different level. We’ll keep running with it and keep trying to get better. We have to keep getting better. There’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Kendra Dahlke tied her career-high with 22 kills and had 12 digs, three blocks and an ace.
Kalei Mau had 17 kills, 14 digs, two blocks and an ace.
Katarina Pilepic had 15 kills — seven in the first set — and hit .412.
“Kendra, Katarina and Kalei were unbelievable,” said Rubio. “They had to work hard to score.”
Stanford, coming off a loss last Sunday to visiting Utah, lost back-to-back home matches for the first time in coach John Dunning’s 16 seasons on The Farm.
Kathryn Plummer led the Cardinal with 12 kills and a career-high 17 digs. Merete Lutz had 11 kills and five blocks and hit .345, while Inky Ajanaku had 11 kills, hit .435 and had three blocks.
Washington State was unbeaten at home, but Colorado put an end to that five-match streak with its 25-15, 19-25, 25-19, 19-25, 15-13 victory.
It left the Buffs 11-6, 3-4 in the Pac-12, while WSU is 15-4, 5-2.
“Winning is always fun. Winning when you play well is even more enjoyable,” first-year Colorado coach Jesse Mahoney said. “We are more excited about this match as our first true road win. This was a really hostile environment against the top team in the Pac-12. I told the girls that it wasn’t so much the win that I was proud of, but how we played and how we responded to all of the pressure tonight.”
Gabby Simpson led with 17 kills, while Stephanie Shadley and Alexa Smith had 13 apiece. Anna Pfefferle hit .500 while she had eight kills and Naghede Abu hit .455 with six kills.
Washington State’s McKenna Woodford led with 17 kills, while Kyra Holt added 13 to move into second place on the all-time WSU list and Taylor Mims 12. Claire Martin had 10 blocks.
“First of all, Colorado is a great team. I thought they played extremely well,” WSU coach Jen Greeny said. “I was a little disappointed in the way we came out, especially in that first set. Our serving and passing wasn’t as good as I thought it needed to be, to be able to beat a team as good as Colorado. We need to be more aggressive in those two areas and then offensively as well. We got better as we went along. In the fifth set we just missed some key serves and you certainly can’t do that when you are going to 15 points. So we had some great aces, but it was a little bit streaky.
“I think we just had really great moments at the end, really aggressive, and moments where we were being a bit tentative. We just can’t do that in this conference against tough teams. We just really need to be aggressive more consistently.”
USC keeps bouncing back. Friday at Oregon, the Women of Troy lost a tough first set and then came away with a 28-30, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21 victory that left them 12-6, 4-3 in the Pac-12, while Oregon is 12-5, 5-3.
“Nobody can win at home,” Haley said. “What’s going on”
Freshman outside Khalia Lanier led with a career-high 23 kills and also had eight digs. Elise Ruddins had 11 kills and hit .588, while Alysse Ford had 10 kills, eight digs and three blocks. Niki Withers and Brittany Abercrombie each had seven kills and four blocks apiece. And Jordan Dunn had two kills and a career-high nine blocks, one solo.
“I think we’re getting better,”Haley said. “I like my team better. They’re playing hard, they’re working hard in practice.”
Taylor Agost and Ronika Stone had 12 kills apiece for Oregon. Stone also had seven blocks.
“We are not grinding,” said Oregon coach Jim Moore, whose team is 1-3 on its homestand.
“That’s literally one of the things I was going to say. We are not grinding it out. We are not getting tough when it gets in a crucial situation. We are in a slump offensively. We have some pin hitters that basically hit zero, they’re all way down there, under .100. Then you really have to grind it out and we are just not doing a very good job of that.”
No. 21 Utah had its chances at No. 7 Washington, especially when it held a 21-16 lead in the first set. But the Huskies rallied and went on to a 25-21, 25-15, 25-18 sweep.
Their fourth win in a row left the Huskies 15-2, 5-2, while Utah, which saw a three-match road winning streak over ranked teams end, is 13-5, 4-3.
Junior Tia Scambray led UW with 12 kills, with nine digs, two aces, and four assists. Junior Courtney Schwan had nine kills and 10 digs. Junior Carly DeHoog hit .455 with five kills on 11 swings without an error.
“Serving and passing is the foundation of any good team, so I think we’re starting to develop a nice identity there, but we’ve got some work to do on both sides of the ball after the ball is in play,” Washington coach Keegan Cook said. “Tia had a great performance that didn’t start out that well, but she didn’t change her behavior and she kept working and I think after a little different swing in set two, she was aggressive from then on, and so I’m really happy for her performance.”
Utah got 12 kills from Carly Trueman and 11 from Anae Adora.
No. 20 UCLA won at Oregon State 25-14, 25-21, 25-20. to improve to 14-4, 5-3, behind 14 kills, six digs and three blocks from freshman Torrey Van Winden. Lila Toner led OSU (8-10, 1-6), with 13 kills.
And at Cal, Arizona State created a three-way tie at the bottom of the league by beating the Bears 25-21, 21-25, 28-26, 25-22 for coach Stevie Mussie’s first Pac-12 win. ASU is 8-11, 1-6, while Cal is 7-10, 1-6.
Big Ten: Nebraska works hard to pay back Ohio State
The second-ranked Huskers have just one loss this season, and that was at home two weeks ago to Ohio State. Consider things even, because Nebraska went to Columbus on Friday and came away with a 25-20, 25-20, 23-25, 27-25 victory.
The Huskers (15-1, 6-1 Big Ten) beat the Buckeyes (12-7, 2-5) for the first time since 2013 after three defeats. In doing so, Nebraska won its 12th straight road match, its longest road winning streak since 2003 to 2005.
Kadie Rolfzen tied her career high with 21 kills with just two errors for a .413 hitting percentage. She also had 11 digs for her 44th career double-double.
Andie Malloy had 11 kills and two blocks, and Mikaela Foecke had 10 kills, six digs and three blocks. Amber Rolfzen had eight kills and three blocks, while Briana Holman had seven kills and four blocks.
Kelly Hunter had 44 assists and a career-high 19 digs, as well as three kills. Justine Wong-Orantes recorded a season-high 23 digs and surpassed 1,600 for her career, joining Olympian Kayla Banwarth as the only Huskers to do so.
Taylor Sandbothe led Ohio State with 19 kills and seven blocks. Madison Smeathers added eight kills, while Valeria Leon had 16 digs and is 20 away from becoming the school’s all-time leader.
No. 10 Penn State’s winning streak is now 13 after the Nittany Lions won at No. 22 Purdue 25-18, 25-17, 25-17. Penn State is 15-3 and the only unbeaten in league play at 7-0. Purdue fell to 11-7, 1-6.
Simone Lee led the Nittany Lions with 16 kills, while Haleigh Washington had eight and hit .583.
Purdue, which has lost five matches in a row, got 11 kills from Danielle Cuttino and nine from Azariah Stahl.
Also in the Big Ten, Iowa went on the road and improved to 15-4, 5-2 by sweeping Maryland 25-23, 26-24, 25-19, leaving the Terps 9-11, 0-7. And Indiana beat visiting Rutgers 23-25, 25-11, 25-18, 25-22. Indiana is 13-7, 2-5, while Rutgers, which won a set in the Big Ten for the first time this season, is 4-16, 0-7.
ACC: UNC wins at ND in five
Perhaps no team has made more strides this season than Notre Dame, but North Carolina is still tops in the ACC after coming away with an 18-25, 25-19, 25-19, 16-25, 15-13 victory in South Bend.
“I’m just really proud of how well our team fought, of our resilience and determination to hang in there,” said UNC coach Joe Sagula, whose Tar Heels improved to 15-2, 7-0 in the ACC.
“I thought that Notre Dame played an outstanding match—some of the best defense we’ve seen all year—probably one of the top-10 defensive teams in the country. Their transition game was great, and it took a great effort by us to overcome that on the road. The fact that our team was able to hang in there, I couldn’t be any prouder.”
Julia Scoles had career highs of 23 kills and 20 digs to lead UNC. Taylor Leath had 15 kills and 23 digs and Taylor Treacy had 11 kills. Leath had back-to-back kills to end the match.
“It was a great battle for both teams tonight,” Sagula said. “I think the crowd got to see a really good volleyball match. A different type of match, one that was won by defense, dig by dig.”
Notre Dame is 15-4, 6-1.
Ryann DeJarid had a remarkable 40 digs for Notre Dame. Katie Higgins led with 11 kills and Jemma Yeadon had 10 kills and 11 digs.
“We are going to learn a lot from this match,” second-year Notre Dame coach Jim McLaughlin said. “We’re ready to play and had good emotion. I am proud of the effort and energy and all of that stuff. We just have to be a little better for a little longer periods of time but we will get there.”
No. 15 Florida State had to go five to hold off visiting Virginia Tech 25-13, 25-21, 15-25, 24-26, 15-8 and stay tied with Notre Dame and Duke at 6-1 in the ACC.
FSU is 13-3 overall, while VT is 8-10, 3-4.
Milica Kubura and Christina Ambrose had 12 kills each and Katie Horton added 10 and eight digs.
Also in the ACC on Friday, Wake Forest pulled out a five-set victory over visiting Virginia, Syracuse won in four at Clemson, Pittsburgh won in four at Miami, and Georgia Tech beat visiting Boston College in four. Pitt and Georgia Tech are two games off the pace at 5-2.
SEC: Florida cruises at LSU
The ninth-ranked Gators are 15-2, 5-1 in the SEC, after crushing LSU 25-15, 25-20, and 25-11.
After the match, we caught up with the dean of SEC coaches, Mary Wise, who team has just one senior in All-American right side Alex Holston.
She might not be Florida’s best player, but junior Carli Snyder, whose all-around effort included 12 kills and 10 digs, is the Gators’ most important. She seems to be the player who holds it all together, from flawless defense to a wicked BIC.
The SEC’s other ranked team, No. 23 Kentucky, which is the only team in the SEC to beat Florida and stands atop the league at 6-0, swept visiting Arkansas 25-20, 25-19, 25-17. UK has won 11 matches in a row while losing only two sets.
Ashley Dusek led with 15 kills, while Leah Edmond and Olivia Dailey had 11 each.
Texas A&M, once ranked, won its fifth in a row with a 25-6, 25-15, 25-18 crushing of South Carolina. The Aggies are 11-6 and tied with Florida at 5-1.
Also in the SEC, Tennessee beat Ole Miss in four.
Hawai’i, WKU, Dayton, American keep rolling, Radford falls
No. 17 Hawai’i improved to 13-5, 6-1 in the Big West by beating visiting UC Irvine 5-14, 25-21, 24-26, 25-18 behind 20 kills from Nikki Taylor.
No. 25 Western Kentucky won its 10th in a row and maintained its hold on first place in Conference USA with a four-set win over UAB. The Lady Toppers are 19-2 overall and 6-0 in C-USA.
Dayton continues to have the best record in the country. The Flyers are 19-1, 6-0 in the A-10 after winning at VCU 25-21, 25-19, 22-25, 25-21, Jessica Sloan and Kendyll Brown had 12 kills apiece for Dayton.
Radford saw its seven-match winning streak snapped at Charleston Southern as the Highlanders lost in four to fall to 16-4, 7-1 in the Big South. Charleston Southern is 5-0 in the league.
American is 18-6, 80 after the first half of the Patriot season by sweeping Loyola. Three teams are tied for second at 5-2.
Horizon League leader Cleveland State swept Wright State to improve to 14-6, 7-1 halfway through the league schedule … The leaders won in the Missouri Valley as Wichita State (14-5, 7-1) beat Indiana State behind 16 kills by Mikaela Raudsepp, while Lily Johnson had 25 kills to lead Missouri State (15-7, 6-2) past Illinois State in five.
Missouri State takes its five-match winning streak to Missouri Valley Conference foe Illinois State. Southern Illinois is also 6-2.
In the Ivy League, Princeton swept Yale to improve to 12-3, 6-0 in the league, with its 10th win in a row.
Murray State swept Tennessee Tech to improve to 11-8, 6-1, to stay tied with Austin Peay atop the Ohio Valley Conference, Austin Peay swept Jacksonville State.
Florida Gulf Coast has won 17 of 18 after beating Jacksonville to improve to 18-3, 5-1 in the Atlantic Sun. FGCU is a game back of Kennesaw State and a game ahead of North Florida and Lipscomb. Kennesaw swept USC Upstate and is 12-8, 6-0.
SMU improved to 7-1 and is a half-game ahead of Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference after a tough sweep of Memphis 31-29, 25-22, 25-23.
Finally, South Dakota is off to its best Summit League start ever at 7-0 as the Coyotes swept Omaha to improve to 18-3.