NCAA roundup: Spartans knock off Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State, USD, Kansas all win

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TCU's Anna Walsh (6), Natalie Gower (19) and Ashley Smith try to block Kansas hitter Tayler Soucie/Richard Rodriguez for TCU Athletics Communications

Saturday was almost a day without the madness.

Until Minnesota went to Michigan State and the daily dose of upsets in the Big Ten continued.

No. 14 Michigan State dealt No. 3 Minnesota a five-set loss, 15-13 in the fifth, on a day when the other ranked teams in the Big Ten — Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois and Purdue — all won.

So did No. 6 Kansas of the Big 12. And both of the ranked West Coast Conference teams, No. 5 San Diego and No. 11 BYU, were winners.

Outside the top 25, a handful of teams are starting to emerge in their respective leagues with impressive seasons, like Texas A&M Corpus Christi off to an 8-0 start in the Southland and Northern Illinois doing the same in the MAC.

And UNLV is now 7-1 in the Mountain West, a half-game behind 7-0 Colorado State, New Mexico State is 7-0 in the Western Athletic Conference, and North Dakota is 7-1 and atop the Big Sky North Division.

We’ll get to all that, but first, a look at Sunday’s schedule

In the Pac-12, there is one match involving two ranked teams and both are coming off defeats as No. 21 Utah goes to No. 13 Washington State.

Also, Colorado goes to No. 8 Washington, USC plays at Oregon State and can Arizona do it again? The Wildcats, who have pulled off three road upsets in a row, go to Cal and this time Arizona would likely be favored.

Washington, Washington State and Arizona top the Pac-12 standings at 5-2. UCLA, Oregon and Stanford are all 5-3, while Utan and USC are 4-3. Colorado is 3-4.

There is only one match in the Big Ten, when No. 2 Nebraska plays at Maryland.

The Big 12 has the day off, but the SEC is busy with six matches. No. 23 Kentucky is atop the SEC at 7-0, Missouri is 6-0 and No. 9 Florida and Texas A&M are 5-1.

Florida goes to Texas A&M, ranked earlier this season and tough at home. TAMU coach Laurie Corbelli is trying to get the 600th win of her head coaching career as well as her 500th at A&M.

Kentucky entertains Ole Miss and Missouri tries to keep pace when the Tigers play at Alabama. Also, Mississippi State goes to Auburn, Arkansas plays at Tennessee and South Carolina is at LSU.

The ACC also has six matches on tap, including No. 8 North Carolina at Louisville and No.

15 Florida State plays host to Pittsburgh. Also, NC State is at Notre Dame, Syracuse goes to Georgia Tech, Boston College plays at Clemson and Virginia Tech goes to Miami.

A quick look at the ACC standings show UNC on top at 7-0, followed by Duke, Florida State and Notre Dame at 6-1. Georgia Tech and Pitt are 5-2. with NC State and Syracuse at 4-3.

No. 17 Hawai’i plays UC Davis Sunday, trying to keep pace with Long Beach State. Hawai’i is 6-1 in the league, while Long Beach is 7-0 after beating Cal State Northridge on Saturday.

No. 25 Western Kentucky plays host to Florida International in Conference USA, while the Atlantic-10’s Dayton, 19-1, tries to become the first team to get 20 victories when it plays at Davidson.

Purdue's Faye Adelaja attacks against Rutgers
Purdue’s Faye Adelaja attacks against Rutgers

Big Ten: Spartans rally for big upset

You couldn’t have imagined after the first set that Michigan State was coming back against Minnesota, but it’s the Big Ten. The final: 12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 18-25, 15-13 as junior middle Alyssa Garvelink had a career-best 18 kills and a season-high 10 blocks.

“I was very happy with how we kept our heads in it after they pretty much took it to us in the first set,” MSU coach Cathy George said. “We showed a lot of mental toughness, a lot of fight in battling back to take the next two sets.

“Our message to the team was to stay the course. We felt strongly about our game plan, and despite being maybe a step slow or behind in the first set, we shored up a couple of small things and were able to get right back in the match.”

Allyssah Fitterer added eight kills and five blocks, two solo, and Chloe Reinig added 14 kills and four blocks for MSU, which broke a four-match losing skid against Minnesota.

Sarah Wilhite led Minnesota with 20 kills and tied a career-high with 59 attempts. She also had 19 digs. Teammate Alexis Hart had 15 kills and Hannah Tapp added 13.

Michigan State is 16-4 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten, while Minnesota is 14-3, 6-2.

Top-ranked Wisconsin also had to go five and won at No. 18 Michigan 25-20, 25-18, 17-25, 20-25, 15-13, leaving the Badgers 15-2, 7-1, while Michigan is 16-4, 5-3.

It was Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield’s 100th win during his four-year tenure with the Badgers. He’s 100-22.

“The team started a chant for me down there and I had no idea what the heck they were talking about,” Sheffield said. “It’s a happy locker room and I’m so fired up for them, after (losing 3-0 to Minnesota) three days ago to just be gritty when we needed to, I’m really happy for them.”

Freshman Molly Haggerty led with 13 kills, while senior Romana Kriskova and junior Lauryn Gillis each had 11 kills and senior Haleigh Nelson 10.

In the fifth set, Wisconsin squandered a 12-8 lead, but broke a 13-13 tie with a Michigan setting error and Kriskova’s kill.

Abby Cole led Michigan with 17 kills and hit .455. Claire Kieffer-Wright added 12 kills.

No. 10 Penn State stayed atop the Big Ten by crushing Indiana 25-16, 25-18, 25-18. The Nittany Lions are 16-3, 8-0, while Indiana is 13-8, 2-6.

Juniors Ali Frantti and Simone Lee and freshman Tori Gorrell had seven kills each, while juniors Heidi Thelen and Haleigh Washington each had six.

No. 22 Purdue did the same to Rutgers, beating the Scarlet Knights 25-14, 25-18, 26-24. Danielle Cuttino led with 16 kills and hit .400 as her team improved to 12-7, 2-6. Rutgers is 4-17, 0-8.

No. 24 Illinois made short work of Northwestern 25-11, 25-15, 25-22 and is now 13-6, 6-2, while Maryland is 7-13, 0-8.

“It’s a win,” Illinois coach Kevin Hambly said. “We are grateful to get them, we will move on and get to work. This has been a tough run here, We have gone four weeks (with) Wednesday/Saturday matches, and I cannot wait to get in the gym and work on some details.”

Senior Michelle Strizak and freshman Jacqueline Quade led with nine kills each, while sophomore Ali Bastianelli had 10 blocks.

And No. 23 Ohio State improved to 13-7, 3-5 with a 25-15, 25-22, 25-9. Iowa, looking for answers after that last set, is 15-5, 5-3.

Taylor Sandbothe led with 11 kills and hit .476. Audra Appold had 10 kills.

Reghan Coyle led Iowa with nine kills and hit .500.

“We have to go back to the drawing board,” Iowa coach Bond Shymansky said. “It was a good weekend for us, in a way, to go 1-1 on a road trip in the Big Ten, but obviously we have to execute a lot stronger and stay in the moment a little bit longer. We will head back to work to prepare for next weekend.”

Big 12: Kansas keeps rolling, sweeps TCU

The No. 6 Jayhawks went to TCU and made sure the Horned Frogs didn’t gain any ground with a 25-12, 25-19, 25-22 victory. It left Kansas 17-2 and 6-1 in the Big 12, while TCU dropped to 10-7, 3-4.

“For the second time this week, we started strong right out of the gate again,” Kansas coach Ray Bechard said. “Being physical and organized defensively created a lot of opportunities for us tonight. That was really great to see. TCU is having a really good season — an NCAA tournament team no doubt, as was K-State (who we played on Wednesday). It is as good of a 2-0 week that we’ve had in a while against quality opponents like that.”

Kelsie Payne led KU with 16 kills and hit .371. She had two of her team’s 24 block assists, while TCU had eight, three each by Anna Walsh and Natalie Gower, who also led with seven kills.

“It took us a long time for us to get to a point where we were executing our game plan defensively,” TCU director of volleyball Jill Kramer said. “We started to dig some balls and pick some good spots blocking wise in the second and third sets. In the first set, we weren’t really on our game plan that well. We have to get on that quicker. We were also in a little bit different of a lineup tonight and you could see that it affected some of our offensive rhythms. We got to get back in the gym with the girls and work on some things there.”

Also in the Big 12, Baylor won at West Virginia 25-22, 25-16, 22-25, 25-21 to keep pace at 16-6, 4-2, while WVU dropped to 11-10, 2-5. Camryn Freiberg led with seven blocks and Katie Staiger had 18 kills.

Iowa State swept winless Texas Tech  25-13, 25-14, 25-15 before its biggest home crowd of the season. 3,620 in Ames. Iowa State is 10-8, 2-4 in the Big 12, while Texas Tech is 10-12, 0-7.

Jess Schaben led ISU with 10 kills and hit .455.

And Kansas State came up big at Oklahoma after losing the first and getting all it could handle in the fourth 13-25, 25-19, 25-21, 28-26,

“No one panicked,” said senior setter Katie Brand, who had a pretty impressive line of 52 assists, 10 digs, six blocks, five kills and four aces. “We just kept fighting. We knew what we needed to do and just took each point as it came. We got contributions from everyone.”

That included 17 kills from Brooke Sassin and 15 more from Alyssa Schultejans.

K-State is 15-5, 4-3, while Oklahoma is 12-8. 3-4.

Pac-12: Stanford sweeps Arizona State

After getting upset by Arizona, Stanford bounced back by beating visiting Arizona State 25-13, 25-17, 25-19 assenior Inky Ajanaku went 9 for 12 to hit .750, the highest mark by a Cardinal player this season and also had a match-high six blocks.

It left the Cardinal 11-5 and 5-3 in the Pac-12, while ASU dropped to 8-12, 1-7.

Starting in a 5-1 for the first time this season, freshman setter Jenna Gray had a career-high 36 assists, seven digs, three kills and a block. Freshman outside hitter Kathryn Plummer had 10 kills and 10 digs, while tying her career-high with two aces. Freshman middle blocker Audriana Fitzmorris also registered 10 kills on .400 hitting, while redshirt junior Merete Lutz finished with nine kills on 16 errorless swings to hit .562.

Ranked WCC teams cruise

BYU was coming off an upset at Portland and took it out on Gonzaga, while San Diego went to Portland was having nothing to do with any surprises.

BYU, 17-3 overall and 6-2 in the WCC, routed the Zags 25-13, 25-16, 25-19 as Amy Boswell had 13 kills and .571.

San Diego won for the 16th time in a row and improved to 17-2, 8-0 in the WCC, with a 25-15, 25-23, 25-14 win. Lisa Kramer led with 13 kills

Portland, coming off that huge upset, dropped to 11-9, 4-4, still its best season in a long time.

Kirstie Hillyer of Colorado State comes up with the block/CSU photo
Kirstie Hillyer of Colorado State comes up with one of her six blocks/CSU photo

8-0 the way to go, 7-0 not bad, either

Texas A&M Corpus Christi swept Lamar to improve to 13-7 overall and 8-0 in the Southland Conference as four different players had eight kills or more, led by Brittany Gilpin’s 11.

NIU had to grind against MAC-winless Akron but came away with a 25-18, 18-25, 18-25, 25-16, 15-12 to move to 8-0 in the league. Jenna Radtke led with 20 kills and hit .447 to go with seven blocks.

Don’t look now, but the Miami Redhawks have won 15 in a row after winning at Eastern Michigan 25-21, 25-18, 17-25, 25-21 and stand 16-4 overall and 8-0 on the other side of the MAC. Katie Tomasic had 13 kills and had no errors in 25 swings.

They can’t be 8-0, but the Colorado State Rams are 7-0 atop the Mountain West after sweeping San Diego State 25-15, 25-21, 25-16. Jasmine Hanna led a balanced attack with 10 kills.

UNLV, 18-2, is a half-game back at 7-1 after having to go five at Utah State 23-25, 25-19, 24-26, 25-20, 15-13

“We seem to like to play five sets on the road,” UNLV coach Cindy Fredrick said. “We definitely are getting every team’s best effort. We actually hit and defended well, but we needed more consistency and less unforced errors. I’m very happy with this team’s effort and no-quit attitude.”

Bree Hammel led her team with 17 kills.

Another 7-0 team is Long Beach, which is 13-7 overall after sweeping CSUN 25-14, 25-21, 25-15. The Beach hit a season-best .425 and got 10 kills from Ashley Murray.

NM State junior Sasha-Lee Thomas gets the kills/Greg Owens photo
NM State junior Sasha-Lee Thomas gets the kills/Greg Owens photo

New Mexico State is 7-0 in the Western Athletic Conference after its 25-19, 25-19, 25-20 sweep of Chicago State. The Aggies are 17-4 overall.

Jordan Abalos had 13 kills and 10 digs for NMSU, which plays Sunday at New Mexico of the Mountain West.

How about Princeton? The Tigers are also 7-0 halfway through the Ivy League season. They improved to 13-3 overall with a 25-17, 25-16, 25-19 sweep of Yale. Freshman Maggie O’Connell led with 13 kills and hit .370.

North Dakota beat Montana 25-23, 25-16, 25-16 and is 15-8 and 7-1 atop the Big Sky North Division. Tamara Merseli had 14 kills and 17 digs.

Missouri State won its seventh match in a row by sweeping Indiana State 25-18, 25-20, 25-15 and stands 16-7, 7-2 in the Missouri Valley. And Lily Johnson is fast become a name the entire nation should be paying attention to, as the junior outside had 15 more kills to move into third place on the school kills list.

SMU had the night off, but Cincinnati won a five-setter at Tulane to move into a tie with the Mustangs atop the American Athletic Conference at 7-1. They both got help from USF, which beat Temple and left the Owls 5-2 and tied with UCF.

Finally, Texas Southern beat Southern to improve to 8-1 in the SWAC, while Northeastern beat Hofstra to get to 7-1 in the Colonial, Central Connecticut is 6-0 in the Northeast after sweeping St. Francis, and Fairfield is 10-0 in the Metro Atlantic after sweeping Siena for its 11th win in a row.

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