It was an eventful late-regular-season Thursday around the women’s college game with Hawaii clinching the Big West Conference title and gaining an automatic NCAA tournament berth in what was legendary Rainbow Wahine coach Dave Shoji’s 1,200th career win, while back on the mainland one of the sport’s most well-respected coaches, Louisville’s Anne Kordes, announced she is stepping down at season’s end to spend more time with her family. Tournament play in the WAC, Big Sky and Atlantic Sun also commenced Thursday.

All the details later, but first, a quick look at the 56 matches for Friday evening, including the nine conference tournaments.

In the Big 10, No. 13 Michigan State goes to No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Wisconsin is home against No. 18 Michigan, Maryland goes to Illinois and Ohio State faces Northwestern.

Pacific 12 play is headlined by No. 9 UCLA hosting No. 19 Oregon, plus No. 8 Washington heading  to Colorado, No. 12 Stanford is at Arizona State, Cal plays at Arizona, Oregon State at USC.

It’s a busy evening in the ACC, as Virginia goes to No. 6 North Carolina, Florida State is at Duke in a battle for second place in the ACC, Notre Dame at Clemson, Virginia Tech at Boston College, Louisville at Georgia Tech, Miami at Wake Forest, and Pittsburgh at Syracuse.

The SEC has four matches on tap, No. 23 Kentucky at LSU, No. 25 Missouri hosts Auburn, Alabama at South Carolina, and Arkansas at Georgia.

Big 12 is off for the evening.

In the Mountain West, Boise goes to Wyoming, with its first of two opportunities to clinch the conference title and the automatic berth.

On to the nine conference tournaments kicking off today:

In the Atlantic 10 Championships, A-10 No. 4 Duquesne plays No. 5 VCU, with No. 1 Dayton to face the winner Saturday. No. 3 Saint Louis plays No. 6 Davidson with No. 2 Rhode Island waiting in the semifinal.

The Horizon League championships are hosted by Cleveland State, where the quarterfinals are Horizon No. 3 Northern Kentucky vs No. 6 Valparaiso and No. 4 Oakland vs No. 5 Milwaukee.

The four MEAC Championships quarterfinals are: MEAC South No. 2 Bethune-Cookman  vs. North No. 3 Morgan State, North No. 1 Howard vs. South No. 4 NC Central, South No. 1 Florida A&M  vs. North No. 4 Norfolk State, and North No. 2 Maryland E. Shore vs. South No. 3 N.C. A&T.

Four teams advance to the quarterfinals of the Big South tournament: Campbell plays Charleston Southern, and High Point against UNC Asheville.

Fairfield hosts the MAAC championships, with MAAC No. 3 Quinnipiac vs No. 6 Niagara and No. 4 Rider against No. 5 Siena in the quarterfinals.

Friday’s Conference USA championships quarterfinals feature C-USA No. 1 Western Kentucky vs. No. 8 UTEP, No. 4 UTSA vs. No. 5 Florida Atlantic, No. 3 Marshall vs. No. 6 Rice, and No. 2 Southern Miss vs. No. 7 North Texas.

The America East semifinals are America East No. 2 Albany against No. 3 UMBC, followed by No. 1 New Hampshire against No. 4 Binghamton.

The evening’s Colonial Athletic Association championships at UNCW feature CAA No. 4 Hofstra vs No. 5 Towson, followed by No. 3 Northeastern vs No. 6 Delaware.

The SWAC tournament kicks off at Jackson State tonight, with SWAC No. 1 Alabama State vs. No. 8 Grambling State, No. 4 Alabama A&M vs. No. 5 Prairie View A&M, No. 3 Southern vs. No. 6 Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and No. 2 Texas Southern vs. No. 7 Jackson State.

Hawai'i clinches the 2016 Big West title and automatic NCAA bid.
Hawai’i clinches the 2016 Big West title and automatic NCAA bid/Photo courtesy Hawaii Athletics

Back to Dave Shoji’s milestone: at home in Honolulu, AVCA No. 14 Hawaii secured its 25th conference title overall and ninth Big West crown. In the process, Shoji became the second NCAA Division I women’s volleyball coach to hit the 1,200-win mark (1,200-203-1 in 42 years). All of this happened in Hawaii’s 25-11, 26-24, 25-15 victory over Cal Poly. The only other coach to jump the 1,200-win barrier? Penn State’s Russ Rose (1,208-195).

“Well, tonight it means that we’re going to the NCAAs,” Shoji told Ian Schuering of Hawaii News Now. “That’s the biggest story, I think.

“We’re going to the NCAAs. Going somewhere to compete. And to qualify now, it just takes a lot of pressure off of us and that was the big thing about tonight.”

Nikki Taylor led Hawaii with a match-high 15 kills (17th double-digit kill match of the season), while Natasha Burns and Annie Mitchem each had five blocks. Norene Iosia recorded her third-straight double-double at home. Hawaii moved to 21-5 overall and 14-1 in Big West play. Cal Poly dropped to 17-9 and 10-5.

Hawaii is headed to the NCAA tournament for the 24th year in a row thanks to winning the league for the fourth time in five years since rejoining it. The Rainbow Wahine did have its streak of holding opponents below 20 points in a set snapped at 16 when Poly put up 24 in the second set.

Anne Kordes steps down at Louisville.
Anne Kordes steps down at Louisville/Photo courtesy Louisville Athletics

Louisville will be in search of a new head coach at season’s end after Kordes announced her resignation, effective at the end of the season.

Heading into weekend play, Kordes was 272-135 overall and 130-60 during her run at Louisville. Under her direction, Louisville won Big East titles in 2011 and 2012, an AAC title in 2013 and the ACC title last year. She’s been named a conference coach of the year eight times, including last year’s ACC coach of the year accolade.

“It’s with extremely strong emotions that I am announcing my decision to end my career as a Division I volleyball coach,” said Kordes. “The last 20 years in this business have been a dream come true. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work for so many wonderful people during my time in coaching, but especially Tom Jurich (athletic director) at Louisville. He treats his athletic department like family and I could not be more thankful to him.  There are aspects of every job that can be challenging and at this point in my life I am finding it hard to be the mom I want to be to my daughter because of the grind and travel of the recruiting season. There is no way around it if you want to be successful as recruiting is your lifeline. My struggle isn’t the work, it’s the work out of town. I consider myself to be lucky because of what I have been able to experience as a coach, especially at the University of Louisville. I also consider myself lucky because of what I get to experience as a mom.”

Jurich will begin a national search immediately for Kordes’ successor. “It has been an honor and privilege to have had Anne guiding our volleyball program for the last six years,” he said. “I wish her and her daughter, Mary, the best as they embark upon the next chapter in their lives. I am exceedingly grateful to Anne for her dedication to the University of Louisville, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for her. We will miss her enthusiasm and vigor around our department, but as a former student-athlete and coach at UofL, she will remain a Cardinal forever.”

The Cardinals have four matches remaining and are flying to Georgia Tech and Clemson this weekend.

“I grew up a Louisville Cardinal, I graduated as a Louisville Cardinal and I will always be proud that I am a Louisville Cardinal,” Kordes said. “I love this university and will continue to love and support the coaches, athletes and leadership. A very heartfelt thank you to Tom JurichChristine Herring (Louisville senior women administrator/assistant athletic director), my staff, players, alumni and the fans.”

Sidney Wicks, CSU Bakersfield
Sidney Wicks sets for CSU Bakersfield/Photo courtesy Greg Owens, Western Athletic Conference

Tournament hopping
Numerous conference tournaments kicked off Thursday. We start in the WAC at New Mexico State in Las Cruces.

No. 3 seed CSU Bakersfield edged No. 6 seed Seattle 3-2 behind 17 kills and 19 digs from WAC player of the year Carol Grasso (15th double-double of the season). Setter Fabiana Andrade had 22 assists and 11 digs, while libero Jocelyn Rodriguez had a match-high 25 digs.

Katarina Marinkovic had 15 kills and 10 digs for Seattle.

CSU Bakersfield heads to the semifinals Friday at 5 p.m. local against No. 2 seed Utah Valley.

Thursday evening’s second quarterfinal match also went the distance with UT Rio Grande Valley (No. 5 seed) upsetting No. 4 seed Missouri-Kansas City in five sets.

RGV set a tied a program Division I record by notching its 19th win and assured itself the highest winning percentage in program Division I history.

Bojana Mitrovic led the Vaqueros with 23 kills, while Alisha Watson had 16 kills and hit .556. Ragni Steen Knudsen had 13 kills and a career-high five service aces.

Emma Hagedorn had 21 kills and hit .405 for Kansas City.

RGV heads to the semifinals to face top-seeded and host New Mexico State Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

Big Sky Conference top-seed and host North Dakota swept No 8 seed Idaho in conference tournament play. Faith Dooley had 11 kills, five blocks and hit .474, while Big Sky MVP Sydney Griffin added 27 assists and five kills for the Fighting Hawks.

Other Big Sky quarterfinals included fifth-seeded Idaho State rallying from two sets down to defeat No. 4 Northern Colorado and earn a spot in the semifinals.

Chloe Hirst led Idaho State with 20 kills and 21 digs, while Abby Jensen had 19 kills. Marissa Todd had 12 kills and 11 digs, while Hayley Farrer had 49 assists and 17 digs for the winners.

Defending champion and No. 3 seed Northern Arizona swept No. 6 Portland State in another quarterfinal contest that lasted 83 minutes. Jensen Barton had 27 assists and 10 digs for the Lumberjacks. Lauren Jacobsen posted her 21st double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs. Abby Akin had 10 kills.

No. 2 seed Sacramento State edged No. 7 Eastern Washington in five thanks to 16 kills and 15 digs from Mikaela Nocetti, 14 kills and 21 digs from Shannon Boyle and 13 kills and 14 digs from Madeline Cannon. Setter Kennedy Kurtz had 45 assists and 10 digs.

Friday’s Big Sky semifinals feature Sacramento State (20-11) against Northern Arizona (23-7) at 4:30 p.m. local followed by North Dakota (24-9) against Idaho State (16-14) at 7 p.m.

Over at Lipscomb in Nashville, Tenn., Florida Gulf Coast, the No. 3 seed, was a 3-1 winner over No. 6 seed Jacksonville in the Atlantic Sun quarterfinals. It’s the sixth trip in a row for Florida Gulf Coast to the conference semifinals.

Amanda Carroll paced Gulf Coast with 27 kills. Karissa Rhoades had 24 digs and three aces. Mallory Mattingly’s 13 kills topped the Jacksonville stat sheet.

Gulf Coast faces No. 2 seed Kennesaw State at 7:30 p.m. local time tonight on ESPN3.

The other semifinal saw fifth-seeded South Carolina Upstate, making its ASUN tournament debut, record a 3-1 win over No. 4 seed North Florida.

Callie Yeargin’s 15 kills led Upstate, which also benefited from Kaleigh Kelley’s 32 digs. Gabby O’Connell led North Florida.

Upstate squares off against No. 1 seed and host Lipscomb at 5 p.m. local Friday on ESPN3.

Elsewhere, the only Pac-12 contest saw AVCA No. 16 Utah fend off Washington State in five 25-15, 22-25, 25-23, 24-26, 15-8. Utah hit the 20-win barrier and moved to 11-6 in conference play. Washington State was denied its 20th win and sits at 9-8 in Pac-12 play.

Adora Anae led Utah with a match-high 23 kills and hit .348 to go with nine digs. Tawnee Luafalemana and Carly Trueman combined for 29 kills.

Kyra Holt led the way for Washington State with 16 kills and sits in second place all-time in Cougars history with 1,705 kills, trailing only All-American standout Sarah Silvernail’s 1,848 total. McKenna Woodford added 13 kills.

Two key Bay Area matches were on tap in the race for the West Coast Conference title and an automatic NCAA bid where AVCA No. 10 BYU was a 3-1 winner on the road at San Francisco and AVCA No. 11 San Diego dispatched Santa Clara in three.

Both victors moved to 14-2 in conference.

At San Francisco, senior middle blocker Amy Boswell had 13 kills, hit .522 and had five solo blocks, the second-most in BYU rally-scoring-era history. Lyndie Haddock had 28 assists, while Mary Lake had 22 digs. BYU also had eight aces against only four service errors.

“Our serving was on point tonight,” BYU coach Heather Olmstead said. “It was a good team effort offensively and defensively.”

BYU moved to 25-3 overall with the win.

San Diego (23-4) was paced by Lisa Kramer’s 14 kills on 23 swings (.421 hitting). Kelly Edwards had 10 kills on 19 swings (.421). Anna Newsome had 24 assists, while Kristen Gengenbacher had 18 assists. Hunter Jennings had 11 digs and San Diego hit .303 as a team.

Looking ahead, BYU stays in the Bay Area and plays Santa Clara Saturday and then heads to Los Angeles Tuesday to face Loyola Marymount in a game televised on ESPNU. San Diego also remains in the Bay Area and heads to San Francisco Saturday before going down to Malibu Tuesday to visit Pepperdine.



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