NCAA: Big UNC comeback, Duke, Minnesota, Washington, Mizzou all win

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Florida State Christina Ambrose hits against North Carolina's Taylor Fricano, left, and Taylor Treacy in Sunday's five-setter/Perrone Ford photo

There was a chance Sunday for a four-team tie for first place in the ACC, but No. 12 North Carolina rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win at No. 10 Florida State and Pitt continued its late-season surge by winning at Georgia Tech. Duke kept pace by beating Notre Dame.

Conversely, there is a four-way tie for first in the Pac-12, because after No. 8 Washington beat Oregon State, the Huskies, UCLA, Stanford and Oregon are all 10-4 in league play.

No. 2 Minnesota swept Maryland, No. 6 Florida won in three at Mississippi State, No. 18 Kentucky got beat at home by Missouri, No. 24 Dayton swept La Salle and improved to 26-1, No. 25 Creighton beat Xavier to get to 14-9 in the Big East.

Take note that Coastal Carolina is now 22-4, 13-1 in the Sun Belt after beating Georgia State.

UMBC messed up Albany’s run in the America East by winning in five, and the American Athletic got more jumbled as Cincinnati stumbled against Tulsa. Same in the Colonial, where Northeastern was upended by Towson. And Cleveland State wrapped up the Horizon League regular-season title. And wait until you see what Danielle Rygelski did on Sunday.

There is one game on the national schedule Monday, a SWAC matchup between Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State. Tuesday there are 16 matches, none involving ranked or power-five teams. Denver, which leads the Summit League, plays host to Omaha.

ACC: Tar Heels rally, Duke, Pitt get big wins

The top six ACC teams were all in action against each other, including first-place UNC at second-place Florida State. North Carolina’s 13-25, 21-25, 25-11, 25-22, 15-13 victory left it 21-3, 13-1 ACC, while FSU dropped to 18-5, 11-3, and a game behind Duke.

“This was momentous for our program, with us being able to get two come-from-behind victories this weekend,” said UNC coach Joe Sagula, whose team won in Tallahassee for the first time since 2008 and swept the series for the first time since 2000. “This is one of the most memorable matches I’ve been involved in with Carolina volleyball. To be down two sets to none and get off to such a bad start and then to turn it around so quickly and show what we’re capable of doing.”

Carolina, which won in four in Miami on Friday, got 26 kills from sophomore Taylor Leath. Freshman Julia Scoles added 14 kills.

“I thought we played hard the whole match and we never gave up, and that effort really paid off in the fourth and fifth sets,” Sagula said. “Just the belief they had in each other, to be down 13-10 in the fifth set, 21-18 in the fourth, we could have easily folded but we seemed to get better. We made great plays when the pressure was on.”

Christina Ambrose led FSU with 15 kills and 11 digs and Katie Horton had 10 kills and 13 digs.

“Heartbreaking match for the team today,” said Florida State coach Chris Poole, whose team is reeling after being upset by NC State on Friday. “North Carolina showed why they have been so good this year with wins over Penn State and Wisconsin. They didn’t give up after the second set and we failed to maintain the same aggressiveness coming out in the third set.

“We need to do a better job of being consistent and learning to step up late in these sets and matches.”

Duke improved to 18-6, 12-2 by beating visiting Notre Dame, which dropped to 19-7, 10-4. Duke won its fourth in a row with the 25-18, 25-15, 24-26, 25-11 victory as Samantha Amos and Jordan had 16 kills apiece.

“Really excited for our team,” Duke coach Jolene Nagel said. “This team has developed over time. I’m really proud of their effort today and their preparation and how they hung tough when they could’ve cracked.”

Notre Dame got nine kills from Sam Fry and 23 digs from Ryann DeJarld.

Pittsburgh dealt Georgia Tech a big blow as it improved to 19-7, 10-4, with a 25-22, 25-18, 22-25, 26-24 victory that snapped the Yellow Jackets 10-match win streak. Georgia Tech is 20-6, 11-3.

“I’m very pleased with how we competed today and how we stayed in the moment,” Pitt coach Dan Fisher said. “[O’Keefe Gymnasium] is a tough place to play. The environment is really loud and we handled it really well.”

Senior Jenna Potts handled it best as she had five blocks and became Pitt’s all-time leader in career total blocks with 541. Jennie Driscoll (539) held the record since 1996.

Freshman Stephanie Williams led with 22 kills and had 12 digs. Nika Markovic added 15 kills.

Teegan Van Gunst led Georgia Tech with 18 kills and hit .317. Gabriela Savnetchel added a career-best 17 kills and 10 digs.

“I think we finished it out playing some pretty good volleyball,” Tech coach Michelle Collier said. “I think the first two games, offensively, we just didn’t do a good job but that started with our serve-receive. We needed to stay right there with them, I think that was a big difference in the match on how they served as we were just a little uncomfortable with our serve-receive.

“I’m very proud of how we fought; it was a great fight at the end there putting ourselves in the position to go to the fifth game. We knew that they’re a good team. I was pretty pleased with the way that we finished fighting.”

Also in the ACC, Louisville won in three at Wake Forest, Boston College won in five at Virginia and Virginia Tech won in four at Clemson.

Minnesota rolls on

The Gophers got 15 kills from Sarah Wilhite, while Alexis Hart had eight kills and hit .438 as Minnesota won at Maryland 25-16, 25-19, 25-22. Minnesota is 19-4, 11-3 in the Big Ten, while Maryland fell to 10-15, 2-11.

Gia Milana led the Terps with 17 kills.

“I think Minnesota played well today and showed that they’re an elite team,” Maryland coach Steve Aird said. “We didn’t come out ready to play in the first and second sets, but the team played a lot tougher and fought in the third. This is an unforgiving conference, and we have a young team, so we’re learning how to compete at this level.”

Kentucky libero Olivia Dailey gets one of her 37 digs/Britney Howard, UK Athletics photo
Kentucky libero Olivia Dailey gets one of her 37 digs/Britney Howard, UK Athletics photo

SEC: Mighty Mizzou, Gators chomp

Unranked Missouri and Florida stand tied atop the league after Missouri, 21-4, 12-1, won at Kentucky 25-18, 25-21, 25-19.

Missouri hit .382, led by Melanie Crow, who had 15 kills. Carly Kan added 12.

Kentucky, 18-6, 11-2, was led by freshman Leah Edmond, who had 15 kills, an ace and five digs. Darian Mack added nine kills and big gun Kaz Brown had just four kills.

“We had a great crowd today that was into the match,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “The crowd kept giving us everything they got. Credit to Missouri for having a fantastic match offensively. Offensively we were doing okay, but we just need to do a better job defensively. One block during the match is uncharacteristic of us.”

Florida blew past host Mississippi State 25-23, 25-18, 25-14 to improve to 22-2, 12-1. Alex Holston and Rhamat Alhassan had 13 kills apiece. Alhassan had five blocks, one solo, and Holston had three blocks.

Auburn beat Ole Miss in five, South Carolina swept Georgia and Texas A&M beat Tennessee in three as Texas A&M senior middle blocker Jazzmin Babers broke the all-time school record for career block assists during the match, finishing with seven block assists—and a match-high nine total blocks—to give her 458 block assists for her career, breaking the previous record of 456 set by Cindy Lothspeich in 1997.

And Alabama beat Arkansas in four as the remarkable Krystal Rivers had 10 kills, 18 digs and a career-high 12 blocks, four solo. She’s 61 kills away from becoming Alabama’s all-time leader.

Courtney Schwan of Washington hits past Oregon State blockers/Stephen Burns photo
Courtney Schwan of Washington hits through the Oregon State blockers/Stephen Burns photo

Pac-12: Oregon wins a thriller, UW, Buffs win

The Ducks,at 17-6, 10-4 Pac-12, went the distance to win at Washington State 25-16, 25-20, 21-25, 15-25, 15-8 and remain in a tie for first in the league with Washington, Stanford and UCLA. WSU dropped to 17-9, 7-7 as it fell for the fourth time in a row and seventh in nine matches.

Lindsey Vander Weide had 20 kills on .311 hitting to lead Oregon. Taylor Agost had 12 kills and hit .345 and Ronika Stone had 11 kills and hit .333.

Freshman Brooke Van Sickle had a career-match with seven kills and 11 digs while filling in for Jolie Rasmussen, who left with an injury midway through the first set. Fellow freshman Willow Johnson added eight kills.

Kyra Holt of Washington State attacks against Oregon/WSU photo
Kyra Holt of Washington State attacks against Oregon/WSU photo

Kyra Holt led WSU with 15 kills and 10 digs. Hailey Behune had eight kills and Taylor Mims, Ella Lajos and Casey Shoenlein had seven each.

“First of all, Oregon is such a fantastic team offensively, that we thought maybe we would get some different people in there so that we could try to match that offensive system. I think it worked for the most part. I thought Ella Lajos did a nice job coming in, and Julia Cubbedge. We ended up putting Casey Schoenlein on the outside and she hit pretty well too,” WSU coach Jen Greeny said.

“You never know, I think that’s what we need, some other people coming in to shake things up. You definitely can’t do it with just a couple people. It has to be a whole team effort.”

Washington beat visiting Oregon State 25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 25-19 to improve to 20-4, 10-4, while the Beavers fell to 10-15, 3-11.

The junior hitters led the Huskies as Courtney Schwan had 16 kills and 13 digs, Tia Scambray had 12 kills and 19 digs, and Crissy Jones had 11 kills and 12 digs).

“Great physical and mental effort goes a long way, especially when you don’t feel like you’re playing your best volleyball,” UW coach Keegan Cook said. “So in the third and fourth sets I thought our defensive effort was outstanding, and that allowed us to carry through two good sets there.”

Mary-Kate Marshall had 13 kills for OSU, and Lanesha Reagan added 12 kills and 16 digs.

Colorado broke its four-match losing streak by beating visiting Cal 25-15, 25-19, 25-19.

“I think we need wins. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we’ve got a couple that are must wins for us and this is one of them,” CU coach Jesse Mahoney said. “I thought that from start to finish, we were focused and on point. Offensively especially there were low errors. We stuck to the defensive game plan and we put ourselves in a position to be successful. It was fun to watch.”

Colorado is 13-11, 5-9, while Cal is 9-15, 3-11.

Alexa Smith led CU with 12 kills and Stephanie Shadley added 10. Christine Alftin had 11 for Cal.

Dayton, Creighton keep winning

The Flyers gained at least a share of the Atlantic 10 title by sweeping La Salle 25-17, 25-13, 25-17. They are 12-0 in the A-10 and have won 15 in a row with two matches left before the league tournament. Jessica Sloan led with 11 kills.

Also in the A-10, Saint Louis won at Duquesne in five and the remarkable senior outside Danielle Rygelski had one of the great lines of the entire season with 31 kills in 70 swings. She also had seven aces and eight digs. Rygelski also had 31 kills in a match earlier this season, in a sweep of George Mason.

No. 25 Creighton is crushing the Big East and after beating Xavier 25-16, 25-23, 25-21 is 20-6, 14-0. Creighton has won 36 of its last 37 sets at home in the Big East.

Sophomore Taryn Kloth had 16 kills and hit .419, while sophomore Jaali Winters had 12 kills and hit .440. Creighton was down 9-2 in the second set and then again 17-11 before tying it at 22.

Cleveland State, Coastal roll on

Cleveland State is 22-4, 13-1 in the Horizon after sweeping Youngstown State to win the league regular-season title for the fourth time under coach Chuck Voss. The Vikings will be the host and top seed for the tournament November 18-20. Grace Kauth, who will be featured here at VolleyballMag.com later this week, led with 16 kills as her team won its 13th in a row …

The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina are also 22-4, 13-1 in the Sun Belt after crushing Georgia State for their eighth win in a row. The Chants hit .378, led by Annayka Legros, who had eight kills and hit .800. Tahleia Bishop had eight kills, two blocks and hit .389 …

Albany is still in first place in the America East at 15-8, 9-2, but its five-set loss to UMBC (16-7, 7-3) tightened the race. New Hampshire is a game back at 17-10, 8-2. UNH is at Albany on Friday …

Two games separate the top four teams in the American Athletic Conference after visiting Tulsa knocked off Cincinnati in four on Sunday. SMU still leads at 19-7, 12-2 after sweeping East Carolina, but Temple (18-6, 11-3) is tied with Cincinnati (16-9, 11-3) and UCF is right there at 20-7, 10-4. Temple swept Tulane on Sunday, while UCF won in four at Memphis …

In the Colonial Athletic Association, things are also up for grabs.

Northeastern, 20-9, 10-5, dropped into a first-place tie with Charleston, 20-9, 10-5, after losing to Towson. Towson, 22-7, 9-5, got itself into the mix and is tied for second with James Madison, 17-10, 9-5.

Sunday, Towson beat Northeastern in four as sophomore Anna Holehouse had 21 digs, eight assists, and four aces and Jessica Lewis had 17 kills and 19 digs. Charleston swept William and Mary as senior Maddie Hills had a career match with 12 kills, three blocks, eight digs and three aces.

The Missouri Valley race is coming down to the wire. In the only match on Sunday, Missouri State swept Loyola to get to 21-7, 12-2, a full game ahead of Wichita State, 18-7, 11-3, while Southern Illinois, 20-9, 11-4, is a game off the lead and Northern Iowa, 19-8, 10-4, is in striking distance. Missouri State’s win was its 12th in a row as Lily Johnson had 18 kills and hit .357.

And in the MEAC, Florida A&M beat N.C. A&T to improve to 15-11, 10-0, while Maryland Eastern Shore beat Delaware State to get to 17-12, 10-2.

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