Nebraska wins at Penn State, Hawai’i routs Long Beach, big win for Oregon

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Shelby Holmes, left, and Jessica Uke put up the big block for Arkansas State in the Redhawks' win over UTA/ASU photo

You might have figured that it would take No. 1 Nebraska five sets to win at No. 11 Penn State.

Given the way this season has gone, you might not have been all that surprised that NC State went to Florida State and beat the No. 10 Seminoles.

Or, if you pay attention to the Ivy League, that Yale gave Princeton its first league loss.

But when No. 20 Oregon went to No. 8 Washington and swept the Huskies — including 25-8 in the second set — to create a  four-way tie atop the Pac-12 because UCLA lost at Arizona and Stanford beat Colorado, you just had to shake your head at the way this NCAA Division I season continues to unfold.

There were plenty of other matches of note on Friday, not the least of which was No. 15 Hawai’i sweeping visiting Long Beach State and all but ensuring the latter will miss the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.

But first, a look at Saturday’s matches, where there’s no rest for the weary:

In the Big Ten, none of the matches involve ranked teams.

Nebraska goes to Rutgers, Penn State entertains Iowa, Illinois goes to No. 16 Michigan State, No. 22 Ohio State goes to Indiana, Northwestern plays at No. 17 Michigan, and Purdue is at No. 3 Wisconsin. No. 2 Minnesota has the night off but plays at Maryland on Sunday.

In the Pac-12, UCLA hopes for better results on its easterly swing when it goes to Arizona State and Stanford goes to No. 19 Utah.

In the Big 12, No. 4 Kansas goes to Oklahoma and Kansas State goes to TCU.

The ACC and SEC have football Saturday off.

Hawai’i entertains CSUN and the two ranked West Conference teams are in action, No.  7 San Diego at Pacific and No. 14 BYU at St. Mary’s.

No. 21 Western Kentucky, which clinched the Conference USA title Friday by beating Rice, entertains Middle Tennessee, and No. 24 Dayton, which won at Duquesne to extend its nation-best record to 25-1, is off but plays at La Salle on Sunday.

A list of all of Saturday’s matches can be found here, which also enables you to break it down by conference.

Oregon libero Amanda Benson gets one of her 22 digs against Washington/Stephen Burns photo
Oregon libero Amanda Benson gets one of her 22 digs against Washington/Stephen Burns photo

Pac-12: Oregon, Stanford win, UCLA, WSU upset

Young-and-improving Oregon went to Seattle and dismantled Washington 25-21, 25-8, 25-22 to improve to 16-6, 9-4) as sophomore Lindsey Vander Weide had 14 kills and hit .393. Junior Taylor Agost had 11 kills and hit .500 and freshman Jolie Rasmussen had nine kills and three aces. Two other freshmen, Willow Johnson and Ronika Stone, had five kills each.

Washington, which won in a sweep at Oregon earlier, fell to 19-4, 9-4, before a season-best home crowd of 3,434.

Tia Scambray led the Huskies with 11 kills. Courtney Schwan added six.

“Congratulations to the Ducks, they were outstanding in serve and receive, and when they do that they’re one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the country,” UW coach Keegan Cook said. “So a lot of credit to them. I loved our response in the third set, after being at the lowest of lows after the second set, to respond and have a competitive third set says a lot about our kids.”

Arizona is 4-0 against the L.A. teams. The up-and-down Wildcats improved to 16-10, 8-5, on a night when the program honored coach Dave Rubio for his 25 years at the helm. His team rewarded him with a 28-26, 25-21, 25-20 that gave Arizona season sweeps over UCLA and USC.

“Tonight means a lot because of the recognition of my 25th year here at the U of A,” Rubio said. “The players were extra motivated and played well. It was a terrific night, all the way around.”

Senior Kalei Mau had 21 kills, the sixth-most in a three-set match in the Pac-12 this year, on .367 hitting. The senior added a team-high 18 digs.

“I know I should play like this every night,” Mau said.  “But I definitely had a little extra playing for Dave tonight. I owe so much to him and I wanted this to be an extra special match for him.”

UCLA dropped into a three-way tie for first at 18-5, 9-4, as its six-match winning streak ended. Freshman Torrey Van Winden had eight kills, 14 digs and two aces and junior Reily Buechler had 10 kills and seven digs.

No. 13 Stanford got out of Colorado with a 25-19, 25-16, 14-25, 25-20 victory to improve to 17-1 all-time against the Buffs.

The Cardinal, 15-6, 9-4, got a career-high 20 kills from freshman outside Kathryn Plummer, who also had eight digs, five blocks and an ace.

Another freshman, middle Audriana Fitzmorris, hit .450 with 10 kills on 20 swings with just one error. She also had a match-high eight blocks and a career-best six digs.

Alexa Smith and Gabby Simpson had 10 kills each for the Buffs, now 12-11, 4-9.

No. 23 Washington State did itself no postseason seeding favors by getting upset at home by Oregon State 19-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-19.

Oregon State’s Mary-Kate Marshall led the Beavs with 18 kills and had two aces, seven digs, and four blocks. Lila Toner had 10 kills and five blocks as their team improved to 10-14, 3-10.

WSU, 17-8, 7-6, got 21 kills from senior Kyra Holt, who had five digs and five blocks. Casey Schoenlein had a career-high 14 kills and two blocks and Taylor Mims had 13 kills, hit .750 and had six blocks.

No. 25 USC swept Arizona State 27-25, 25-14, 25-18, hitting .330.

The Trojans, 16-9, 8-6, got 11 kills, three blocks and 10 digs from freshman outside Khalia Lanier and eight kills and four blocks from senior middle Elise Ruddins. ASU dropped to 9-16, 2-11.

No. 19 Utah swept visiting Cal 25-18, 25-21, 25-20 as sophomore Berkeley Oblad had seven kills, hit .583 and added a career-high nine blocks. Junior Adora Anae led with 15 kills and sophomore Emma Kirst had seven blocks as their team improved to 17-7, 8-5, to sweep Cal for the first time since joining the league and getting the program’s 750th victory.

Cal is 9-14, 3-10.

Michigan State's Alyssa Garvelink hits through the Northwestern block/MSU photo
Michigan State’s Alyssa Garvelink hits through the Northwestern block/MSU photo

Big Ten: Nebraska, Michigan, MSU get victories

Rec Hall was jammed with 5,564 fans and they got their money’s worth as visiting Nebraska held on for a 22-25, 25-17, 25-23, 23-25, 15-11 win. But those same fans saw Penn State fall to 17-7, 9-4 with its fourth consecutive defeat.

Nebraska, 21-1, 12-1, got 19 kills each from Andie Malloy and Mikaela Foecke. Amber Rolfzen tied her career high with 16 kills and hit .615 and added a season-best nine blocks. And libero Justine Wong-Orantes had 23 digs and became Nebraska’s all-time leader, surpassing Olympian Kayla Banwarth.

Penn State, which hit .166, got 23 kills and 13 digs from Simone Lee and 13 kills and three blocks from Haleigh Washington. Freshman Kendall White had a career-high 32 digs.

No. 17 Michigan rallied for a 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-22 win over visiting Illinois as Kelly Murphy led the Wolverines with 15 kills. Her team improved to 19-6, 8-5, while Illinois dropped to 14-10, 7-6.

Michelle Strizak led Illinois with 17 kills, nine blocks and nine digs. Naya Crittenden had 13 kills.

No. 16 Michigan State is 20-5, 9-4 after sweeping visiting Northwestern 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-22. Northwestern is 8-17, 1-12.

This is the earliest that Michigan State has reached 20 victories since 1995, and MSU’s 20-5 record is its best at the 25-game mark since 1998.

Autumn Bailey had 13 kills, 15 digs and five aces and hit .500. Holly Toliver had 10 kills, hit .625 and had 15 digs and an ace and a block.

“I thought that Northwestern got off to the better start tonight, but I was happy to see us settle in and start taking care of our business,” MSU coach Cathy George said. “We got contributions from a lot of players tonight, and this is a big opportunity for us at home over these next two weeks. We’re going to have to continue to be on the attack every day, and our focus will remain on getting better every practice, every set, and every match.”

And Iowa (18-7, 8-5) won at Rutgers (4-22, 0-13) 25-8, 25-19, 25-13 in a match that took 1 hour, 16 minutes. Five Hawkeyes had five kills or more.

Georgia Tech junior outside hitter Ashley Askin leads the celebration/Georgia Tech Athletics photo
Georgia Tech junior outside hitter Ashley Askin leads the celebration/Georgia Tech Athletics photo

ACC: Seminoles fall, UNC, Tech, Duke, ND all win

NC State’s upset of Florida State left North Carolina alone at the top while the Seminoles, Georgia Tech and Duke are in a three-way tied for second, a game up on Notre Dame.

NC State beat a top-10 team for the first time when the Wolfpack beat No. 10 FSU 25-23, 25-21, 17-25, 22-25, 15-8. Florida State dropped to 19-4, 11-2, while NC State is 15-10, 8-5 under first-year coach Linda Hampton-Keith.

“Of course we’re thrilled with this historic program win over a top-10 team but more importantly I’m so very proud of this team and staff for just continuing to push to get better and better,” Hampton-Keith said. “We’re at that point in the season where everyone is pushing through to the finish line of the season and we’re all battling every day, so I just can’t say enough about this team and how they keep working so hard.

“One of the best things about tonight was our resiliency to go up two sets, lose the next two and then to keep our composure going into the fifth and just keep executing when it mattered most.”

Kaitlyn Kearney led NC State with 16 kills while hitting .364 and added seven blocks. Juli Brown had 21 kills and 13 digs and Teni Sopitan had 10 kills.

Katie Horton had 14 kills and 13 digs for FSU, which also got 11 kills and 11 blocks from Mara Green.

No. 12 North Carolina earned its win at Miami 25-18, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24.

“I’m just so proud of this team to hang in there and to have such a great comeback,” said UNC coach Joe Sagula, whose team was coming off a loss to Pittsburgh. “That’s something we haven’t done since early in the season, and I’m so proud and excited for them to pull out a gritty win like this.”

“To be up and play so well, and then for Miami to give us a great, great effort—our blocking was phenomenal at the end. So many people made some big plays.”

Carolina, 20-3, 12-1, got 11 kills from Taylor Borup, while  Beth Nordhorn, Taylor Treacy and Taylor Leath had nine each.

“It’s something we’ve been working towards, to have a more balanced approach instead of focusing on one or two players, and that means a lot going forward,” Sagula said. “I think it’s going to help us down the road to know that we can play like that. We were passing well. We got a lot more balls to our middle hitters—32 attempts from our middle, we haven’t had that in quite some time; our setters did a nice job.”

Miami is 11-14, 5-8.

Duke improved to 17-6, 11-2, in a Friday-afternoon victory over visiting Louisville 25-22, 26-24, 25-15. Freshman Samantha Amos had a career-high 15 kills as the right side hit .520. Middle Leah Meyer had 13 kills and hit .522, while middle Jordan Tucker had nine kills and hit .471.

“We’re pretty excited to get the win and to get it in three is even better,” Duke coach Jolene Nagel said. “The first two sets we really had to stay focused. We didn’t go on a lot of runs and had to grind it out. Proud of our team to hang tough during those times and be able to finish.”

Louisville, grinding through its worst season in memory, is 7-16, 2-11.

Georgia Tech kept pace by barely sweeping Virginia Tech 25-14, 26-24, 26-24 to get to 20 victories for the first time since 2009, the last time the Yellow Jackets made it to the NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets are 20-5, 11-2, while VT fell to 8-16, 3-10.

Teegan Van Gunst had a big night with 15 kills and 13 digs, while Sydney Wilson had nine kills and four blocks. Annika Van Gunst had six kills, 13 digs and three blocks.

“I think we are just staying resilient and found ways to execute on some of the things like Annika on that last block, we finally got a block on the outside,” Georgia Tech coach Michelle Collier said. “I think we just kept trying different things and seeing what was going to work for us.

“We definitely needed to play a little more consistent against this team. We kept it way too close.“

Notre Dame won’t go away. The Irish improved to 19-6, 10-3 by winning at Wake Forest 25-22, 25-22, 26-24. Katie Higgins had 11 kills and hit .500 and Jemma Yeadon and Sydney Kuhn had eight kills apiece. ND is 10-1 away from home this season.

Wake, which hit .092, is 9-15, 5-8.

Pittsburgh rolled at Clemson 25-15, 25-20, 25-20 to improve to 18-7, 9-4, as Stephanie Williams and Nika Markovic had 14 kills apiece. Clemson is 6-18, 1-11.

Also, Syracuse (7-17, 6-8) won at Virginia (5-20, 2-11) 26-24, 25-23, 23-25, 25-16.

SEC: Wildcats get tough win at Auburn, Mizzou wins

No. 18 Kentucky had to give at Auburn before coming away with a 23-25, 22-25, 26-24, 30-28, 15-12 victory.

“This game showed our never-die attitude and I think this team is unfazed by situations,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “We will continue to believe in each other and fight for each other. Tonight was a great match to show that.”

His team improved to 18-5, 11-1 as Leah Edmond keeps making a case for national freshman of the year by leading with 20 kills and 12 digs. Kaz Brown had nine kills and 10 blocks, one solo.

Auburn, 13-12, 7-5, got 18 kills from Brenna McIlroy and 16 from Courtney Crable.

Missouri is 20-4, 11-1 after winning at Tennessee 25-18, 23-25, 25-17, 25-20 to stay tied with UK and Florida, which was off.

Melanie Crow led with 16 kills, an ace, eight digs and a block. Carly Kan added 10 kills and 12 digs to go with two aces and three blocks.

Tennessee is 15-9, 5-5.

Also, Ole Miss (14-10, 3-8) kept LSU (7-16, 2-10) winless at home and South Carolina (16-7, 4-7) won in five at Mississippi State (12-14, 4-8). Mikayla Shields had 23 kills for USC.

Cyclones escape, WKU, Dayton keeping winning

That big whooshing sound you heard from Lubbock was Iowa State exhaling after winning 19-25, 25-20, 25-17, 23-25, 15-12. The Cyclones are 14-9, 6-5, while Texas Tech is 10-17 and still winless in the league at 0-12. Jess Schaben led Iowa State with 16 kills and 13 digs, while Grace Lazard added 14 kills and hit .524.

WKU, the top-ranked team in the VolleyballMag.com Mid-Major Poll, has the second-best record in the country at 25-2, 12-0 in C-USA after routing Rice 25-12, 25-20, 25-18. The Lady Toppers have won 16 in a row and 43 in a row at home and are guaranteed at least a share of the league title.

“Well, I just can’t say enough about this group,” WKU coach Travis Hudson said. “It has been a grind all year with the things that we’ve faced in terms of injuries and lack of depth. But to come out here tonight with a chance to clinch a share of the conference championship and to play like we did against a Rice team that might be favored to win this tournament in two weeks, makes me really, really happy and proud of the way we played tonight.”

Alyssa Cavanaugh and Taylor Dellinger led with 13 kills apiece, Sydney Engle had 12 and eight digs, and setter Jessica Lucas added eight kills and 12 digs.

Dayton had to earn it at Duquesne 28-30, 25-18, 25-11, 25-19, but the Flyers are 25-1, 11-0 in the Atlantic 10 after freshman Jamie Peterson tied her career high with 16 kills. Junior Amber Erhahon added 14 kills, hit .545 and had five blocks. And freshman Kendyll Brown added 11 kills and six blocks.

Big West: It’s all Hawai’i

This one was a no contest as the Rainbow Wahine crushed visiting Long Beach State 25-13, 25-15, 25-16, to take sole-possession of first place in the Big West.

Hawai’i is 17-5, 10-1 and all but guaranteed the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament berth.

LBSU dropped to 16-9, 10-2, and coupled with its NCAA RPI of 55, is in a world of postseason hurt. Long Beach won the earlier meeting in five, 15-13 in the fifth.

Annie Mitchem tied her career-high for Hawai’i with 13 kills and hit .619 to go with four digs and two blocks, while Emily Maglio added 10 kills and had a match-high four blocks. Nikki Taylor had just six kills but five aces, eight digs and a block.

Nele Barber led the 49ers with nine kills, 13 digs and an ace, and Anete Brinke had six kills and two blocks as their team dropped out of first place for the first time all season.

The Bearcats celebrate after sweeping SMU/ N.C. Brown, Cincy Rooted photo
The Bearcats celebrate after sweeping SMU/N.C. Brown, Cincy Rooted photo

AAC tightens up as Cincy beats SMU

SMU was riding high in the American Athletic Conference, but a trip to Cincinnati on Friday changed that as the Bearcats won 25-22, 25-13, 25-23 to put both teams at 11-2 with seven matches left. The league gets an automatic NCAA bid and neither team is in a strong position to get an at-large bid, since Cincinnati is 42nd in the NCAA RPI, SMU is 45th.

Cincinnati, 16-8, had a record home crowd of 2,018 as it hit .323. Jordan Thompson led with 15 kills and Carly Nolan added 13.

SMU, 18-7, lost to Cincinnati for the first time in eight matches since the series began. Brittany Adams led SMU with eight kills.

Temple (17-6, 10-3) stayed a game back by sweeping Houston.

Around the nation:

No. 25 Creighton won its 13th match in a row by sweeping visiting Butler. Creighton is 19-6, 13-0 in the Big East after its 25-12, 25-14, 25-17 victory that saw Jaali Winters get 11 kills and nine digs and Taryn Kloth have 10 kills.

American University clinched the Patriot League regular-season title the home court advantage for the tournament by sweeping Colgate. American, which won 25-19, 25-15, 15-19, is 24-6 overall, 14-0 in the conference. Second-place Colgate dropped to 15-10, 11-3.

Princeton had won 14 in a row, but Yale gave the visiting Tigers their first Ivy League loss by winning in five, 18-25, 25-16, 21-25, 26-24, 15-11. Both teams are 16-4; Princeton is 10-1 and holds a one-game lead over the Bulldogs, who are 9-2.

Yale’s Brittani Steinberg had 18 kills — including the final three in the fourth set extra-point win and four kills on seven swings in the fifth.

“Brittani was great tonight and played like a senior when we needed it,” Yale coach Erin Appleman said.

Cara Mattaliano led Princeton with a career-high 24 kills and had 19 digs, two aces and a block. Maggie O’Connell added 21 kills.

Coastal Carolina, which earlier clinched the Sun Belt East Division title by beating Georgia Southern, beat GSU again to improve to 21-4, 12-2 with its 11th victory in a row. Also in the Sun Belt, Arkansas State won the 1,000th match in program history by beating UTA to improve to 21-7, 13-1. And Texas State took a hit by losing in four at Little Rock to fall to 18-10, 11-2.

In the Missouri Valley, Wichita State kept the pressure on idle Missouri State by sweeping Bradley to improve to 17-7, 10-3. Southern Illinois, 19-9, 10-4, kept pace by winning in five at Illinois State.

In the America East, Albany is 15-7, 9-1 after sweeping Stony Brook … In the A-10, Saint Louis senior Dani Rygelski, featured here this week, had 14 kills and hit .321 as the Billikens swept La Salle to try to keep up with Dayton … 

In the ASUN, Kennesaw State swept Stetson to get to 10-1 in the league and stay a game ahead of Lipscomb, which swept FGCU …

Radford is 20-5, 11-2 in the Big South after beating Campbell in four … Miami stayed unbeaten in the MAC by sweeping Ohio to improve to 21-4, 13-0 … Howard swept Morgan State and is 23-5, 12-0 in the MEAC … SIUE beat Southeast Missouri in four and is 18-6, 11-2 in the Ohio Valley …

SWAC leader Alabama State is 17-8, 14-0 after sweeping Prairie View … South Dakota swept IUPUI and Denver did the same to Oral Roberts as both got to 11-2 in the Summit League.

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