You could argue that the two best teams in the country went at it Sunday in Lincoln, No. 1 Nebraska and No. 3 Minnesota, and the Huskers’ five-set victory didn’t so much make a statement about them as perhaps it did the power of the Big Ten.
“A classic, final four-type atmosphere, a final four-type match,” Nebraska coach John Cook said. “Two great teams just battling point by point. It was actually a lot of fun just to watch this match.”
The schedule for Monday has just three matches, but later Monday we’ll have a summary and links to the latest AVCA Division I poll and NCAA RPI. It will be be interesting to see if those rankings agree that the Big Ten is head and shoulders above right now.
Regardless, there’s no doubt about who’s No. 1 after Nebraska came through the weekend unscathed after sweeping No. 4 Wisconsin on Friday.
Among the other happenings on Sunday:
In the Pac-12, four ranked teams were in action, including No. 14 Stanford’s sweep of No. 25 USC.
Missouri was not ranked — but almost has to be Monday — as the Tigers beat No. 21 Kentucky to take over first as the only unbeaten team in SEC play.
No. 8 North Carolina won its 10th in a row by beating Syracuse, No. 10 Florida swept Georgia and Dayton (22-1) and Western Kentucky (22-2) both won, keeping pace for the best overall records in the country.
Big Ten: Big day for Nebraska, Wong-Orantes
Nebraska had a big rally to win the first set and then dominated the fifth in a 24-26, 25-18, 26-24, 22-25, 15-8 victory that saw senior libero Justine Wong-Orantes get a school-record 35 digs.
Nebraska had a season-high 76 kills. Sophomore Mikaela Foecke (20), junior Briana Holman (17) and senior Amber Rolfzen (16) each had season highs as their team hit .267.
Junior setter Kelly Hunter had a career-high 65 assists.
Defensively, the Huskers were fabulous, coming up with a season-high 17 blocks. Holman had a season-high 10. And Wong-Orantes broke the previous school record for digs, 34 by Maria Hedbeck against Penn State on Sept. 4, 1993. She is 34 away from Kayla Banwarth’s career record of 1,706.
Nebraska is 18-1 — its only loss was to Ohio State — and tied for first in the league at 9-1. Minnesota is 15-4, 7-3.
Sarah Wilhite led the Gophers with 20 kills, nine digs and four blocks. She also had a career-most 68 attempts. Alexis Hart followed with 15 kills. Molly Lohman and Hannah Tapp each had 10 kills, with Lohman hitting a team-best .368, adding eight blocks. Minnesota hit -.087 in the fifth set.
Also in the Big Ten on Sunday, Indiana swept Northwestern 25-23, 27-25, 25-19 to improve to 14-9, 3-7, while the Wildcats dropped to 8-14, 1-9. Senior Allison Hammond led the Hoosiers with 14 kills and sophomore Elizabeth Asdell hit .467 with eight kills and three blocks.
Pac-12: Stanford, UW, UCLA all win
Stanford’s 25-22, 25-19, 25-21 sweep at USC left the Cardinal 12-6, 6-4 after the much-needed victory. USC, better on the road than at home this season (5-0 away from the Galen Center, 7-7 there), is 14-7, 6-4.
Stanford senior middle blocker Inky Ajanaku was back in the lineup after missing the previous match with an injury and responded with 10 kills and eight blocks. Junior Merete Lutz hit a match high .706 with 12 kills on 17 errorless swings and also had five blocks.
Freshman outside hitter Kathryn Plummer added 11 kills on .429 hitting, six digs and three blocks, while freshman middle blocker Audriana Fitzmorris had five kills and five blocks.
USC, which had won three in a row, got 11 kills, five digs and two blocks from freshman Khalia Lanier. Sophomore Alyse Ford added nine kills, nine digs and a block. USC is 26-60-1 in its all-time series with Stanford.
No. 7 Washington won at Arizona 26-24, 23-25, 28-26, 25-20. The Huskies, 18-2, 8-2 Pac-12, got 14 kills apiece from Courtney Schwan and Crissy Jones, a career-high-tying 12 kills from freshman Kara Bajema (who hit .733), and eight kills each from Carly DeHoog and Tia Scambray.
Jones also had a career-high 12 blocks. Scambray also had a blocking career-high with seven, and she and freshman Shayne McPherson led with 14 digs each.
“Student-athletes on both sides deserve a lot of credit for putting on quite a performance,” Washington coach Keegan Cook said. “The match was played at a high physical level for really long periods of time, and I think everyone’s going to be pretty tired after that one, but pleased we were able to make it through to the end. We did a nice job at the net, Arizona was playing outstanding floor defense and we were combating that with some good play around the net.”
Kalei Mau had 23 kills and 20 digs for the Wildcats, now 13-9, 5-5. Laura Larson added 23 digs and Penina Snuka had 54 assists and 13 digs.
No. 15 UCLA won for the fourth time in a row as the Bruins beat Cal 26-24, 22-25, 25-15, 25-17. UCLA is 16-4, 7-3, while Cal dropped to 8-12, 2-8.
UCLA, hitting a season-best .383, was led by senior Jordan Anderson, who had 15 kills, hit .314 and had three solo blocks.
Senior Jennie Frager added 13 kills, hit .526 and and had six blocks, while freshman Torrey Van Winden posted 12 kills and hit .526.
Cal junior Christine Alftin had a career-high 22 kills and hit .450.
Redshirt-freshman Savannah Rennie, who had a liver transplant in May, saw the first extensive playing time of her career and finished with six kills and two blocks in just more than two sets.
SEC: Mizzou at the top, Gators win
The Tigers improved to 18-3 overall and 9-0 in the SEC by beating visiting Kentucky 25-21, 28-26, 16-25, 22-25, 15-12. It put Missouri alone at the top of the league, as Kentucky dropped to 16-5, 9-1.
Missouri, which has won 13 in a row, got 14 kills from Emily Thater, who hit .524 and had six blocks, three solo. Alyssa Munlyn added 11 kills on .421 hitting and had eight blocks, three solo. And Carly Kan had 17 kills and 17 digs.
Kentucky saw its own 13-match winning streak broken.
“I’m not happy with the outcome and Missouri made a few more plays,” Kentucky coach Craig Skinner said. “I’m proud of the fight in our team to battle back and give ourselves a chance in the fifth. It’s certainly a match we need to learn from to keep getting better.”
Freshman Leah Edmond led UK with a career-high 21 kills and had 14 digs. Darian Mack had 13 kills and four blocks and Kaz Brown had 12 kills and six blocks.
Florida’s Alex Holston and Carli Snyder had 15 kills each as the Gators hit .458 in a 25-19, 25-19, 25-8 sweep of Georgia. Florida is 18-2, 8-1, while Georgia is 13-9, 1-8.
Snyder also had nine digs and hit .583, while Holston had eight digs, three blocks, and hit .536.
Also in the SEC, Mississippi State swept Tennessee, Ole Miss beat Alabama in four, and Auburn beat Arkansas in four.
ACC: 10 in a row for UNC, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech win
North Carolina beat Syracuse 25-21, 25-12, 25-21 for its third consecutive sweep and sixth in ACC play. The Tar Heels are 18-2, 10-0 ACC, while Syracuse is 5-15, 4-6.
I am happy to come out with another 3-0 win, most importantly,” UNC coach Joe Sagula said. “Syracuse presented very unique challenges. They are physical on the net. They throw the ball around really well. They caught us off guard and we have to learn how to be more disciplined. I thought the second set went great, how we put pressure on them. The first set was back and forth and they made it more competitive in the third set.”
Taylor Treacy and Taylor Leath led with 11 kills apiece, while Hayley McCorkle had eight, Taylor Borup seven and Taylor Fricano six.
Syracuse got 10 kills from Anastasiya Gorelina.
Notre Dame kept pace by sweeping Virginia Tech 25-20, 25-15, 25-18 to improve to 18-4, 9-1. VT is 8-13, 3-7.
Katie Higgins led the Irish with 11 kills and hit .476 as the Irish won for the 10th time in 11 matches.
Amanda McKinzie led the Hokies with 16 kills and 14 digs.
Don’t sleep on Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets beat Duke 25-22, 15-25, 25-20, 26-24, to win for the seventh straight time and improve to 17-5, 8-2, and pull into a tie with the Blue Devils, 14-6, 8-2. What’s more, it was the first time Georgia Tech beat Duke in 12 years.
“Duke is so good defensively that we needed everyone to be efficient. We are playing really consistent and we were making plays,” Georgia Tech coach Michelle Collier said. “It was a great team effort. Duke’s a tough team to beat. So it was a great win and I’m very proud. It was a great win for our program.”
Gabriela Stavnetchei had 15 kills, hit .387 and had 11 digs. Teegan Van Gunst had 18 kills and 10 digs, while Annika Van Gunst had 11 kills, hit .379, and had 10 digs.
Duke, which saw a six-match winning streak snapped, got 12 kills from freshman Samantha Amos. Jordan Tucker and Jessi Bartholomew added 11 each.
“(We’re) certainly disappointed to not get a W at home,” Duke coach Jolene Nagel said. “Georgia Tech is a good team. They have experience, they play good defense and they have some great offensive weapons. We weren’t strong on the block today and we let some opportunities pass. We needed to serve tougher to get them out of system and we needed to stay pressed more on the ball so we could block some more balls. If we could’ve done those two things, it would’ve helped us a lot in a close match like today.”
Also in the ACC, NC State beat Boston College in four, Pittsburgh swept Louisville and Wake Forest, down 0-2, came back to beat Clemson in five.
Dayton, WKU, Fairfield roll on
Dayton is 22-1, 9-0 in the Atlantic 10 after winning at Duquesne in four. Jessica Sloan continued to lead the Flyers as she had 22 kills, six digs and two blocks …
WKU won a big one at UTSA. The four-set victory left the Lady Toppers 22-2, 9-0 in Conference USA as Rachel Anderson had a career-high 20 kills. UTSA missed a chance to tighten the race as it dropped to 15-5, 6-2 …
Fairfield beat Manhattan in four to get to 20-5 and 13-0 in the Metro Atlantic as Skyler Day had 22 kills and 11 digs …
SMU took over sole possession of the American Athletic Conference lead with its sweep at UCF. The Mustangs are 6-6, 9-1, while UCF dropped to 17-6, 7-3 after the pivotal match. SMU, which got 11 kills and 14 digs from Katie Hegerty, was glad to see Temple (14-6, 7-3) sweep Cincinnati (12-8, 8-2) …
Howard swept Delaware State and is 8-0 in the MEAC … Saint Louis swept LaSalle to improve to 7-2 and move into second place in the A-10 as the nation’s kill leader, Danielle Rygelski, had 14 more and 11 digs … Denver swept Western Illinois to improve to 16-6 and 8-2 in the Summit League …
The Big 12 had Sunday off.