Utah faces Oregon, NCAA to reveal top 10 teams

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Ruth Okoye of Denver attacks against Omaha/Lacey Den Hartog, Denver Athletics photo

Denver improved to 20-6, 12-2 in the Summit League, by sweeping Omaha on Tuesday in a light night of NCAA Division I competition.

No ranked teams were in action as things begin to heat up in earnest on Thursday and Friday, but Wednesday’s 19-match slate is highlighted by a big Pac-12 battle where the league’s only match features No. 19 Utah (17-8, 8-6) at No. 16 Oregon (17-6, 10-4).

Oregon, which last week knocked off both the Washington schools to win three in a row and five out of six, is tied with Washington, UCLA and Stanford for first in the league.

The SEC has No. 24 Kentucky (18-6, 11-2), a game behind Florida and Missouri, at Arkansas (5-19, 3-9), while Auburn (14-12, 8-5) goes to Alabama (16-10, 5-8).

It’s during that match on ESPNU that the NCAA will reveal its top 10 teams as things stand today. The match starts at 5 p.m. Central and while the rankings won’t tell you much, it is a chance to see perhaps the most dynamic hitter in the college game in Alabama senior middle blocker Krystal Rivers.

Alabama senior Krystal Rivers
Alabama senior Krystal Rivers

She’s just 5-foot-11, but the powerful Rivers has 2,090 career kills, 61 shy of the Alabama record, and is first in the NCAA in total kills (586), second in kills per set (5.86), and fourth in total attacks (1,349).

Three of the Big Ten’s ranked teams are in action.

No. 1 Nebraska (22-1, 13-1) plays host to Iowa (18-8, 8-6), No. 17 Michigan (20-6, 9-5) entertains Indiana (16-11, 5-9), and Purdue (15-10, 5-9), the last team not in the top 25, goes to No. 15 Michigan State (21-5, 10-4).

There is one ACC match as Notre Dame (19-7, 10-4), fighting for its postseason life, goes to Louisville (8-16, 3-11).

The Big 12 has No. 5 Texas (18-3, 10-1) playing host to Baylor (19-7, 7-3), Iowa State (14-9, 6-5) at Oklahoma (13-11, 4-7), and Kansas State (17-8, 6-6), not ranked but No. 21 in the NCAA RPI, playing at West Virginia (12-13, 3-8).

None of the other ranked teams play on Wednesday, but Fairfield goes to Stony Brook and Cleveland State goes to Green Bay.

Fairfield, which holds the nation’s longest winning streak at 18, is 24-5, 17-0 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, but goes out of the MAAC to play at Stony Brook.

Cleveland State, 22-4, 13-1 in the Horizon League, has already secured the conference tournament’s top seed.

Denver got to play all five of its seniors in their final home game in the 25-17, 25-20, 25-19 win over Omaha. One of them, Ruth Okoye, led with nine kills and hit .750. Denver holds a one-game lead over South Dakota atop the Summit standings.

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