NCAA: KU finally beats Texas, big wins for Cal, UCLA, Minnesota, Miami

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Kansas setter Ainise Havili celebrates the big victory over Texas with Kelsie Payne/Michael Gunnoe photo

Kansas finally beat Texas.

The No. 6 Jayhawks, playing in a sold-out Horejsi Family Athletics Center, ended a 25-match losing streak to the traditional Big 12 and national powerhouse and put Kansas and No. 6 Texas into a tie atop the standings. A recap and video interviews with the respective coaches and Kansas star Kelsie Payne follow below.

The Big Ten had its usual share of curveballs, as Indiana mystified No. 13 Michigan in four, Iowa knocked off No. 24 Illinois in five and No. 3 Minnesota swept visiting No. 10 Penn State, giving the Nittany Lions their second loss in two nights after which they went 1-6 in sets.

The Pac-12 wasn’t going to let a day get away without another surprise. In this case, Cal swept visiting No. 18 Washington State, which heads home looking for answers after losing in three at Stanford on Friday.

Also Saturday, Miami, Ohio, is the only unbeaten team in the MAC after it beat NIU in a matchup of division leaders, Texas A&M Corpus Christi is 11-0 in the Southland after beating Incarnate Word, and Creighton is 12-0 in the Big East after sweeping at St. John’s to finish the road part of its league schedule.

And Barry Goldberg won his 700th match as American beat Army West Point.

All the recaps of the big matches follow, but first, a look at Sunday’s biggest matches.

The SEC is busy as it always is on Sunday, starting with No. 9 Florida playing host to LSU. No. 22 Kentucky is at Alabama. Also, Mississippi State is at Missouri (not ranked but No. 16 in the NCAA RPI, a notch behind Kentucky), Auburn goes to Tennessee, Georgia is at Arkansas and Texas A&M plays at South Carolina.

The ACC has a full schedule, too, as No. 8 North Carolina — with a chance to move into the top five in the AVCA Poll on Monday — goes to Pittsburgh. No. 11 Florida State also has a tough one at Notre Dame. One of the other two teams in the ACC hunt — Duke — is home for Syracuse, while Georgia Tech has the day off. Also, Wake Forest is at Boston College, NC State is at Virginia Tech and Miami, which won at Notre Dame on Friday, goes to Louisville.

There are two matches in the Pac-12, which No. 20 Oregon entertaining Arizona State and Arizona at Oregon State.

The only Big Ten match has No. 4 Wisconsin , a half game off the league lead, playing host to Rutgers, which has won one set in conference play.

The Big 12 has the day off.

No. 23 Western Kentucky, with the nation’s second-best record of 23-2,  plays a Conference USA match at UAB. The other three non-power-five teams that are ranked are off, No. 5 San Diego, No. 14 Hawai’i and No. 16 BYU. 

Two of the four teams in the Atlantic Sun hunt are in action, with league leader Kennesaw State at USC Upstate and Lipscomb at NJIT.

In the American Athletic, league-leader SMU plays host to Tulane, second-place Rhode Island of the Atlantic 10 tries to keep pace when it goes to VCU, in the Colonial Athletic Association league-leader Northeastern plays host to UNCW while Charleston, a half-game back, goes to Hofstra. In the Northeast Conference, league leader Sacred Heart plays at Robert Morris.

And Fairfield, which won its 15th in a row on Saturday by sweeping Rider to improve to 21-5 overall and 14-0 in the Metro Atlantic, plays host to Saint Peter’s on Sunday.

Big 12: Jayhawks break 13-year streak, K-State beats Baylor

Kansas had suffered so long at the hands of Texas, so its 17-25, 25-11, 27-25, 12-25, 15-10 victory was truly significant to a team that made it to last year’s national semifinals.

“This needs to be part of our journey not our destination,” Kansas coach Ray Bechard said. “I don’t want to rain on their parade, I’m sure they’re going to enjoy it tonight, but come Monday this is off the books and we have to get ready to play a team in Manhattan that has a very high RPI and is an NCAA tournament team. There’s a little relief, but at the same time we were confident that if the staff and the players put a good effort out there we could get a good result.”

Kansas is 20-2, 9-1 — that only Big 12 loss coming at Texas in four on Sept. 24 — while Texas is 17-3, 9-1.

Junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne paced the Jayhawks with 21 kills, adding eight digs and six blocks as Kansas beat Texas for the first time since 2003. Fellow Texas natives junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon posted 16 kills and junior All-American setter Ainise Havili guided KU’s offense with 41 assists and 11 digs.

Late in the match, junior middle Kayla Cheadle was involved in two big plays. Cheadle, who had seven blocks, was so excited when the score got to 13-7, she accidentally head-butted Havili, which gave Havili a match-stopping nose bleed. The long delay must have helped Texas, which scored the next three points. But then Cheadle scored the 14th point on a remarkable diving punch up near the left pole that somehow not only went over, but dropped to the floor.

“I told Jerritt after the match that they make us better,” Bechard told Jayhawk Television Network after the match. “We have been striving to play at their level for a long time. Finally the Jayhawks get a big win against the Longhorns.”

VBM’s Greg Echlin caught up with Bechard after the match:

He also visited with Payne:

Freshman Micaya White led Texas with 25 kills. She had 54 attempts and only six errors for a .352 hitting percentage. Junior Ebony Nwanebu added 15 kills and senior Paulina Prieto Cerame 13. Junior libero Cat McCoy, who had a fantastic match, had 21 digs.

Echlin also visited with Elliott:

Also in the Big 12 Saturday, Kansas State — No. 17 in the RPI, while Kansas is 26th — beat visiting Baylor in four. It left K-State 17-6, 6-4, while Baylor fell to 18-7, 6-3. The 25-22, 21-25, 25-13, 25-20 gave the teams a split of their series for the fifth straight year.

And Oklahoma swept visiting TCU and West Virginia beat visiting Texas Tech in five.

Big Ten: Minnesota whips Penn State, big wins for Indiana, Iowa

The home crowd of 5,391 enjoyed seeing Minnesota overwhelm Penn State 25-17, 25-20, 25-18 and outhit the Nittany Lions .374 to .195.

Minnesota is 17-4, 9-3 in the B1G. Penn State, which beat Minnesota in State College last month when the Gophers were No. 1, fell to 17-6, 9-3.

Sarah Wilhite led Minnesota with 15 kills and just one error, hitting .359, adding eight digs and four blocks.

“We were so consistent in our energy and execution throughout the entire match,” Wilhite said. “There was no roller coaster. The first time we played them we would get hot and heavy and they would get hot and heavy. There was a lot of ebb and flow. But this time we had really consistent execution and we played at a really high level.”

Hannah Tapp had 10 kills and zero errors, hitting .556, plus four blocks. Alexis Hart had nine kills and Molly Lohman had eight with a match-high .889 hitting percentage, plus seven blocks. Paige Tapp also put up seven blocks, adding four kills. Katie Schau had a match-high 16 digs, while Dalianliz Rosado had 13.

“Regardless of what sport it is, what a really cool college sporting environment,” Minnesota coach Hugh McCutcheon said.

Simone Lee led Penn State with 17 kills while hitting .306 and getting 11 digs. Haleigh Washington and Tori Gorrell had seven kills each.

Purdue upset Michigan on Friday, but Saturday it lost to Michigan State 20-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-18, which dropped the up-and-down Boilermakers to 14-8, 4-8.

Michigan State got nine aces from Brooke Kranda as the Spartans improved to 19-5, 8-4 and get to go home for their next four matches.

“This was a really, really big weekend for us,” said MSU coach Cathy George, whose team won at Indiana on Friday. “We were happy with our Friday result but knew that we were going to have to play at a much higher level tonight in order to have success.

“I thought that we really paid attention to the details that we wanted to focus on, and we saw the success we can have when we are able to do that. Brooke Kranda was very difficult for them to handle tonight, and she was just so, so deserving of setting a school record with her performance.”

Purdue’s Junior Danielle Cuttino led with 14 kills, while senior Faye Adelaja and junior Azariah Stahl had 10 each.

No. 1 Nebraska beat visiting Northwestern 25-20, 25-11, 25-20 to improve to 20-1, 11-1, its best start since going 20-0 in 2008. A crowd of 7,958 saw Kadie Rolfzen get 11 kills and hit .500 to go with five digs and three blocks. Mikaela Foecke had nine kills and hit .444.

Northwestern is 8-16, 1-11.

There were two upsets in the Big Ten.

Indiana improved to 15-10, 4-8, with its 25-14, 21-25, 25-16, 25-23 victory over Michigan. Indiana last beat an opponent ranked that high was when it beat No. 10 Michigan State almost three years ago to the day.

Senior Jazzmine McDonald led the Hoosiers with a career-high 15 kills on 20 attempts for a .700 hitting percentage and added 10 blocks.

Michigan is 18-6, 7-5. Kelly Murphy led with 11 kills but hit .088. Her team hit .093.

And Illinois fell victim to Iowa’s Reghan Coyle, who had 18 kills as she hit a personal best for the second straight match and Iowa knocked off the Illini 25-20, 21-25, 25-21, 24-26, 15-12.

It left Illinois 14-9, 7-5, while Iowa is 17-7, also 7-5. It’s the most league victories for Iowa since 2000, when the Hawkeyes finished 11-7.

Naya Crittenden led Illinois with 16 kills.

Pac-12: Big win for Cal, UCLA beats Utah, USC wins

No. 12 UCLA won its sixth in a row by cooling off No. 21 Utah 25-23, 25-17, 29-27 that could have further muddled the muddled Pac-12. Instead, it left UCLA 18-4, 9-3 in the Pac-12, while Utah dropped to 16-7, 7-5.

Torrey Van Winden had 17 kills as the freshman hit .471 with one error in 34 swings. Junior Reily Buechler added 17 kills and hit .395 as her team hit .299.

Utah got 20 kills from junior Adora Anae and hit .415.

Cal, which won five Pac-12 matches the previous two years combined, improved to 9-13, 3-9 as freshman Savannah Rennie made her first start and had seven kills in the Bears’ 25-23, 25-17, 25-22 win over visiting Washington State. Rennie, who had a liver transplant in May, also had a block and an ace.

“I’ve been saying all along what a competitor she is,” Cal coach Rich Feller said. “She hates to lose. She brings it to the court and backs it up all the time. She’s not 100 percent successful, but she definitely brings something to the court that we need to have. And it makes her teammates feel comfortable, so it’s contagious.”

Jenelle Jordan had eight kills and seven blocks. She was out with an injury when Cal lost to WSU earlier.

The Cougars, meanwhile, fell to 17-7, 7-5 after a dismal road trip. Kyra Holt led with 12 kills.

Also in the Pac-12, No. 24 USC swept visiting Colorado 25-23, 25-22, 25-21.

It left USC 15-8, 7-5, while the Buffs are 12-10, 4-8. USC is 14-0 all time against Colorado.

Freshman Khalia Lanier led USC with 13 kills and added seven digs and two aces. Gabby Simpson led Colorado with 12 kills, and had a triple double with 17 assists and 11 digs.

Virginia beats Clemson, Hawai’i tops Fullerton.

UVa went to Clemson and came away with a 23-25, 25-14, 25-19, 25-19 victory that left the Cavaliers 5-19, 2-10 in the ACC. Clemson dropped to 6-18, 1-11.

Hawai’i cruised at Fullerton 25-19, 25-13, 25-19 to improve to 16-5, 9-1 in the Big West. Annie Mitchem led with a career-high 13 kills and seven blocks, while McKenna Granato had nine kills and Emily Maglio eight. Hawai’i returns home for a big match next Saturday when Long Beach comes to Honolulu. They are tied for the league lead.

Miami sings the fight song after its big victory over NIU
Miami sings the fight song after its big victory over NIU

Miami rules in MAC-tion, Creighton rules the road, 700 for Goldberg

They both were 19-4 and 11-0 in the MAC, but Miami won its school-record 19th in a row by sweeping visiting Northern Illinois (25-22, 25-20, 25-23).

While NIU saw a 14-match win streak broken, Miami was going past where the 1980 team went with 18 wins in a row. During this stretch, the current Red Hawks have lost just seven sets.

“It was a great match, I thought Northern brought their game and they were confident,” said head coach Carolyn Condit. “I love playing against a team like that. I’m super proud of how our women stayed calm and continued to go at them and just take control on their home floor. It was awesome to watch.”

stela-kukoc-3
Stela Kukoc gets one of her 11 kills against NIU

Senior outside hitter Maris Below had 13 kills and 11 digs. Senior middle hitter Paige Hill and sophomore outside hitter Stela Kukoc each had 11 kills. Hill had no errors in 19 attempts for an attack percentage of .579.

NIU got 11 kills from Mary Grace Kelly and 10 from Taylor Krage. Go-to hitter Jenna Radtke was held to six kills in 19 swings.

“It was fun to play that match,” NIU coach Ray Gooden said. “Yes, we were on the wrong side of it, but I thought it was fun to be a part of that. Coach Condit is such a class act with everything she does in that program.

“I thought we were doing some good things, playing some good volleyball, they were just a couple steps ahead at a couple critical times and that’s really the difference. I think it’s a good learning thing for our group.”

Don’t sleep on Creighton. Coach Kirsten Booth’s team is 18-6 and dominating the Big East at 12-0 after sweeping St. John’s to go 9-0 in October, 27-2 in sets.

“I think this was the hardest conference scheduling that a Creighton team has had in my 14 years,” Booth said. “The fact that we were on the road in October four of five weeks is grueling. Championships are often won in October. For us to come out unblemished is impressive and tells you about the poise, maturity and mental toughness of this group.”

Marysa Wilkinson and Taryn Kloth paced Creighton with 11 kills each. Wilkinson hit .500 and added four blocks, and fellow middle blocker Lauren Smith added nine kills and four blocks on .412 hitting. Freshman Megan Ballenger hit .727 with nine kills, five digs and a career-high seven blocks.

American is 23-6 overall and 13-0 in the Patriot League after beating visiting Army in four. It gave coach Barry Goldberg his 700th victory as Shannon Webb had eight kills and Loren McKenzie had eight blocks.

“I’ve been doing this a long time. How incredible God’s been to me to give me all these great players,” said Goldberg, whose team has won the Patriot League 12 of the last 14 years. “And all the things we have here at American. It’s just been a special place. I’m amazed I’ve gone this far.”

Texas A&M Corpus Christi libero Kate Klepetka gets one of her career-best digs on Saturday/
Texas A&M Corpus Christi libero Kate Klepetka gets one of her  digs on Saturday that made her the school’s all-time leader

Around the courts:

Texas A&M Corpus Christi swept Incarnate Word as libero Kate Klepetka became the school’s all-time digs leader. She had 13 for the match and now has 1,591 in just three seasons.

“I really wasn’t aware of the record until last game,” said Klepetka. “To do it in three years, it’s a dream and everything I could ever ask for. Now it’s time to shoot higher.”

Same for her team, which is 16-7, 11-0 in the Southland Conference. The Islanders hold a two-game lead over Stephen F. Austin …

Things got back to normal at Long Beach State on Saturday. No red cards as Long Beach, 15-8, 9-1 Big West, swept visiting UC Davis 25-19, 25-11, 25-23, dropping the Aggies to 12-11, 5-5. Long Beach, you may recall, lost in five on Friday to UC Irvine, the last point coming when coach Brian Gimmillaro was red-carded.

Freshman YiZhi Xue had nine kills on 13 swings with no errors for a .692 hitting percentage, plus  a team-best five blocks. Nele Barber led with 18 kills and added eight digs.

Colorado State swept Utah State to get to 15-7, 9-2 in the Mountain West and stay a half-game back of UNLV and Boise State, both 10-2. Boise is 19-6 after beating San Diego State in four, while UNLV is 21-3 after sweeping Fresno State.

North Dakota swept Montana State to go 12-0 on the road this season and improve to 19-9, 10-2 in the Big Sky, while Northern Arizona had to go five to win at Portland State to keep pace at 20-5, 10-2. Lauren Jacobsen had 21 kills in a whopping 81 swings for NAU. And Northern Colorado stayed a game back at 9-3 by sweeping Montana …

In the Horizon League, Cleveland State swept Northern Kentucky to get to 20-4, 11-1 … Princeton had to go five to win at Harvard but kept its two-game Ivy League lead as it moved to 16-3, 10-0 …

The Missouri Valley is still up for grabs with Missouri State at 10-2, Wichita State at 9-3 and Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois at 9-4. Saturday saw Missouri State beat UNI, while Wichita State swept Drake and the Salukis swept Bradley …

Let’s go Peay: Austin Peay is 21-8, 10-2 in the Ohio Valley after beating visiting Southeast Missouri in five. Ginny Gerig had 29 kills … SIUE is tied with Austin Peay at 10-2 but both trail Murray State (16-8, 11-1) after the visiting Racers swept UT Martin …

Three teams are burning it up in the Sun Belt.

Texas State moved to 18-9, 11-1 Sun Belt by beating visiting Louisiana-Monroe in four.  The Bobcats’ ninth consecutive victory left them half a game behind Arkansas State (20-7, 12-1) atop the West Division. Coastal Carolina leads the East at 19-4, 10-1. Arkansas State won its eighth in a row — all sweeps — by crushing Georgia State, while Coastal swept Troy for its ninth win a row.

New Mexico State is 10-1 in the Western Athletic Conference, 20-6 overall after a stunning four-set loss to visiting CSU Bakersfield. It broke a 24-match WAC win streak. NMSU still has a two-game lead in the loss column over Bakersfield … Colgate is 10-2 and two games behind American in the Patriot after sweeping Lehigh … Alabama State is 16-8, 13-0 in the SWAC after sweeping Mississippi Valley State …

South Dakota is 10-1 in the Summit after sweeping Western Illinois.

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