An NCAA Tournament is bound to have upsets and unexpected results. We had them on Friday, but not nearly as many as you would expect.
Creighton beat No. 5 seed Kansas on its home court. Baylor ousted San Diego.
UNLV was one of the last two teams in. It’s now one of the last 28 left after upsetting Utah.
There were some other scores that got your attention, like SMU beating Texas A&M, Boise State knocking off Western Kentucky and Murray State taking a set off UCLA.
But as far as the biggest day — there were 28 matches — of the NCAA Tournament goes, things went pretty much as expected.
What matters most is that four teams have advanced into the round of 16 — No. 3 seed Wisconsin, No. 12 Michigan, Creighton and No. 15 Missouri — and 12 matches Saturday will decide the rest of the field.
Saturday’s schedule (all times local):
Coastal Carolina (28-4) vs. No. 7 seed North Carolina (28-3), 6 p.m. Eastern
Pittsburgh (25-8) vs. No. 16 Penn State (23-9), 6:30 p.m. Eastern
Hawai’i (23-5) vs. No. 2 Minnesota (26-4), 6 p.m. Central
Arizona (19-14) vs. No. 9 Michigan State (25-8), 7 p.m. Eastern
Florida State (25-5) vs. No. 11 Florida (27-3), 7:30 p.m. Eastern
Ohio State (21-12) vs. No. 14 Kansas State (21-9), 7 p.m. Central
TCU (15-12) vs. No. 1 Nebraska (28-2), 7 p.m. Central
SMU (26-7) vs. No. 4 Texas (23-4), 7 p.m. Central
UNLV (24-7) vs. No. 13 BYU (28-3), 7 p.m. Mountain
Boise State (26-5) vs. Stanford (22-7), 7 p.m. Pacific
Kentucky (23-7) vs. Washington (27-4), 7 p.m. Pacific
Baylor (22-11) vs. UCLA (25-6), 7 p.m. Pacific
No. 1 Nebraska Regional
Nebraska 3, New Hampshire 0: The Huskers had to work hard in the second set in a 25-9, 25-23, 25-18 victory over the America East champion.
Nebraska is 28-2 and now plays host to TCU on Saturday. The Huskers hit .352, led by sophomore outside Mikaela Foecke, who had 13 kills. Senior Kadie Rolfzen added 12.
“I thought we came out and played a really good first game. I think New Hampshire was probably a little overwhelmed with the crowd and playing against us and then they played really well,” Nebraska coach John Cook said.
“Typically, sometimes when you win the first game really easily, there’s a natural letdown, and then it was hard for us to get it back, but we did some good things. We found a way to win game two, and I felt like we were in control in game three, but (New Hampshire) does some creative things.”
UNH, which had won 10 in a row, ended its season 21-11. Sophmore middle Gabri Olhava led with 11 kills and hit .320. Senior middle Demi Muses was held to eight kills.
“It was definitely a very humbling experience being able to play in this big arena,” Olhava said. “It’s a lot bigger than the one back home. It was definitely something I’ll never forget. It was a very cool experience.”
TCU 3, Wichita State 1: TCU not only advanced, coach Jill Kramer got her 100th career victory as the Horned Frogs, an at-large from the Big 12, beat Missouri Valley champion Wichita State 25-17, 25-23, 22-25, 25-20.
TCU is 15-12 this season and 2-2 all-time in NCAA play. Ashley Smith led with 17 kills and 18 digs. Natalie Gower and Ashleigh Martin had 11 kills apiece and Gower had five blocks.
“I think my team showed some resiliency tonight,” Kramer said. “Wichita State just kept coming back and coming back, they made some adjustments in the third set to stop us and to keep us from doing what we wanted to do, and we had to change what we were doing and they didn’t make it easy on us.
“I am proud of our girls for problem solving and sticking together and finding a way to get it done, and not getting too ahead of themselves. They did a good job of playing point-for-point, not getting too up and down and they got it done so I’m proud of them.”
Wichita State’s season ended 24-8. Tabitha Brown led with 18 kills and two blocks and Jody Larson had 11 kills and three blocks. Abbie Lehman had a big match with 10 kills and nine blocks.
Pittsburgh 3, Dayton 1: The Panthers created a state of Pennsylvania battle by winning and getting Penn State. Pittsburgh is 25-8 after winning 20-25, 25-19, 27-25, 25-19.
Dayton, the Atlantic 10 champion, had the nation’s best record entering the tournament and finishes its season 30-2.
Nika Markovic led Pittsburgh with 16 kills and hit .424. She also had 14 digs. Stephanie Williams had 15 kills and 14 digs and Mariah Bell had 12 kills and 12 digs and three blocks.
Junior Jessica Sloan led Dayton with 14 kills and seven digs. Junior Amber Erhahon had 10 kiills and seven blocks.
Penn State 3, LIU Brooklyn 0: As you would expect, the Nittany Lions overpowered LIU Brooklyn 25-8, 25-16, 25-6.
Penn State is 23-9 and won its NCAA opener for the 27th consecutive year and hasn’t lost a first-round set since 1999. The Blackbirds of the Northeast Conference ended their season 16-15.
Penn State hit .403 with just seven errors. Simone Lee led with 12 kills.
Michigan State 3, Fairfield 0: The Stags had the nation’s longest winning streak at 22 matches, but it didn’t matter at Michigan State as the Spartans cruised 25-14, 25-13, 25-15. They improved to 25-8, while Fairfield, the Metro Atlantic champion, ended its season 25-6.
Autumn Bailey had eight kills and 11 digs to lead Michigan State, which won its first-round match for the sixth straight year. Alyssa Garvelink had seven kills, hit .545, and had five blocks.
“We know that we’re going to have to clean up some things before tomorrow, when we play Arizona,” MSU coach Cathy George said. “I think we’re really excited for one last match on our home court this season and are very focused on being ready for Arizona.”
Megan Theiller led Fairfield with 12 kills.
Arizona 3, Cleveland State 0: The unpredictable Wildcats blasted Cleveland State 25-14, 25-17, 25-13 to improve to 19-14 and end the Horizon League champion’s season at 25-6.
“They caught us on a good night,” Arizona coach Dave Rubio said. “We played very well tonight. I’ve noticed the last couple of practices we’ve been very sharp. We feel like we’re playing our best volleyball right now. It was great to play as efficient as we did tonight.”
Kalei Mau had 17 kills and hit .400. Devyn Cross had 10 kills and hit .667 for Arizona, an at-large from the Pac-12.
Grace Kauth led CSU with eight kills.
Kentucky 3, Colorado State 1: The Wildcats, an at-large from the SEC, won 24-26, 25-22, 25-10, 25-17 as freshman Leah Edmond had 20 kills.
“Obviously, being in the tournament and getting a chance to advance is special,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “I was very pleased with our defensive effort and our sustained energy throughout rallies. We tweaked our lineup a little bit this week and smoothed it out in practice and during the first set. I’m happy to keep going and getting another opportunity to work with this team.”
Colorado State, an at-large from the Mountain West, ended its season 21-9. Alexandra Poletto led the Rams with 12 kills.
Washington 3, Texas A&M CC 0: The Islanders dominated the Southland Conference, but the team from Corpus Christi was overwhelmed 25-18, 25-14, 24-14 against Washington.
The No. 8-seeded Huskies are 27-4 as the Pac-12 champions won their 15th consecutive first-round match. Crissy Jones and Kara Bajema had 10 kills apiece and their team had nine aces.
“Congratulations to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, not only on the season that they had, but just the way they played,” UW coach Keegan Cook said.
“I thought they were a great representation of themselves, and there’s a reason why they went undefeated in their conference and why they’re here. It’s always hard to play well in this environment and I thought they did a nice job. So congratulations to them, and congratulations to (our team) for pulling it out in three sets.”
TAMUCC, which was 16-0 in its league this year, finished 24-8. Morgan Carlson led with seven kills.
No. 2 Minnesota Regional
North Carolina 3, High Point 0: The No. 7 Tar Heels moved on with a 25-13, 25-12, 25-23 victory that put into the second round for the 11th time.
Julia Scoles led with nine kills, 16 digs and three aces. Beth Nordhorn added eight kills and Taylor Leath with seven.
“Tonight, I thought we came out really strong. I thought we set the momentum early, served tough, and took some really good swings.” UNC coach Joe Sagula said. “Both Julia and Taylor were controlling the offense and I think that helped us a lot. I also thought Sheila Doyle dug a lot of balls, especially in the second set when High Point made a good run.
“I was really pleased and I think our experience showed early. Overall, we didn’t block as well as we typically do, and I thought High Point did a really great job with 12 blocks on the match. I’m happy that we won this match and ready to focus on the next one at hand.”
High Point, the winner of the Big South tournament, ended its season 23-10. Four players had four or more kills.
Coastal Carolina 3, James Madison 2: In perhaps the best and tightest match of the first round, the Chanticleers moved on 19-25, 25-18, 25-18, 17-25, 15-9. It negated a tremendous last match for JMU’s Janey Goodman, who had 29 kills and hit .361.
Coastal Carolina, which has won 18 in a row and won the Sun Belt Conference its first in the league, is 28-4, its most wins ever.
Annayka Legros, a 6-foot-5 senior middle, led the Chants in the victory with 19 kills, a .455 hitting percentage and seven blocks.
Leah Hardeman and Tahleia Bishop had 14 kills apiece.
Colonial Athletic Association-champion James Madison ended its season 21-11. Bryn Recker had 11 kills, eight digs and six blocks, and Kelly Vahos had 10 kills.
Baylor 3, San Diego 2: Baylor is in the second round for the first time since 2009 at the expense of San Diego, which hasn’t had a good week.
First, the Toreros thought they’d be a top-16 seed and get to host. They didn’t and got sent to UCLA. And then they ran into Katie Staiger, who had 20 kills, six digs and three blocks as Baylor came away with a 16-25, 25-18, 17-25, 25-20, 15-13 victory.
Baylor, an at-large from the Big 12, is 22-11.
“It was definitely very back and forth,” Staiger said. “San Diego’s a good team and they run a really fast offense. It was back and forth just because we’d put a ball away and then they’d put a ball away. But when you’re at the tournament, everyone’s good. That’s what you kind of expect. But it was definitely hard to get into a flow because they were doing some good things.”
Teammate Aniah Philo had 14 kills, 13 digs and three blocks. Setter Morgan Reed had 12 digs and a season-high six kills and Camryn Freiberg had 10 blocks.
“Great, fun win for us tonight,” Baylor coach Ryan McGuyre said. “The girls battled and San Diego’s an awesome team, awesome program. This is who we’ve been as a team all year, fighting until the end. Morgan Reed had her best match tonight. Just so proud of her willing us to the victory. Looking at all the players we have, she’s the senior that’s always on the court. She made play after play after play and wasn’t rattled. So proud of her to play like a senior. Aniah was doing some great things offensively and we’re excited to go on to the next round.”
USD’s season ended 24-6, a tough way to go after once being ranked as high as No. 5 in the AVCA Division I Coaches Poll. The Toreros, an at-large from the West Coast Conference, were led, as usual, by Lisa Kramer, who had 21 kills. Jayden Kennedy and Lauren Schad added 11 apiece.
UCLA 3, Murray State 1: The 10th-seeded Bruins came away with a 21-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-9 victory, settling down after losing the first set to the Ohio Valley Conference champions.
“It’s the NCAA tournament, UCLA coach Michael Sealy said. “Murray State has nothing to lose, everything to gain … There are so many good teams now, whether it’s Creighton beating Kansas, or us playing Baylor, there are no easy matches. All the teams have physical abilities, they’re tough, they’re able to play volleyball for a long time. In the past it wasn’t tough until the second round. Now it’s tough in the first round.”
UCLA, an at-large from the Pac-12, is 25-6. Junior Reily Buechler had a season-high-tying 21 kills, hit .373 and had eight digs and three blocks. Senior Taylor Formico had 26 digs, six assists and two aces, senior Jordan Anderson added 12 kills, hit .345 and had five digs and senior Claire Felix was error-free with 11 kills in 17 attempts as she hit a season-best .647.
Murray State’s season ended 23-9. The Racers got 24 kills from Scottie Ingram, whose effort included hitting .339 with 14 digs.
Missouri 3, Purdue 1: Mizzou is in the round of 16 for the first time since 2010 after grinding past the Boilermakers 25-13, 22-25, 25-16, 25-21. Melanie Crow was huge, as the junior outside hitter had 25 kills and three blocks.
“I cannot believe I’m going to the Sweet 16,” Crow said. “I cannot believe it. I never expected this.
Senior Carly Kan had nine kills, two blocks and three aces.
“What I was nervous about beforehand was that this was going to be an interesting contrast in styles,” Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow said. “They’re the big physical players, we’re kind of smaller, quicker and fast. Small, quick, fast is good if you can control the ball. It’s not good if you throw high balls out. So, I think we knew it was going to be a battle to see who could control the tempo of the match. I thought to have a shot we’d have to play really clean and we did.”
Purdue, an at-large from the Big Ten, ended its season 19-14. Danielle Cuttino led with 17 kills and Azariah Stahl added 12. Their team was out-blocked 11-4.
Hawai’i 3, USC 2: The Rainbow Wahine won a thriller over USC in Minnesota 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 16-25, 15-13.
Big West-champion Hawai’i, 23-5, was led, as it almost always is, by Nikki Taylor, the two-time Big West player of the year, who had 23 kills and six blocks.
USC, an at-large from the Pac-12, lost a first-round match for the first time under coach Mick Haley and saw its season end 18-14.
Emily Maglio added a career-high 15 kills, hit .484, and had six blocks for Hawai’i. Annie Mitchem had 12 kills as Hawai’i moved into the second round for the 19th consecutive season.
USC was led by Khalia Lanier, the freshman outside who had a match-high 26 kills to go with 13 digs, three blocks and two aces. Senior middle Elise Ruddins had 13 kills, three blocks and an ace. Libero Taylor Whittingham, who was playing on a torn ACL, had 32 digs. Madison Murtagh had a match-high seven blocks.
Minnesota 3, North Dakota 0: The Gophers are tough at home. Minnesota improved to 14-0 in the Sports Pavilion this season by beating North Dakota 25-21, 25-12, 25-20.
The Gophers, an at-large from the Big Ten, improved to 26-4 as Sarah Wilhite led with 17 kills and seven digs. Paige Tapp and Hannah Tapp both had eight kills and both hit .412.
“Very happy with the win tonight,” Minnesota coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “In particular, I thought it was to our advantage because North Dakota is a good team, they played hard, and served really well. Their middles had a nice night against us and they made us work and believe it or not I really like that. It’s good for us to figure out ways to win. I think it sets up nicely for the battle to come tomorrow.”
That, of course, is against Hawai’i.
North Dakota’s season ended 26-10. Chelsea Moser and Faith Dooley had 11 kills apiece for the Fighting Hawks.
“I won’t say that Minnesota took us lightly, but I think they really put the hammer down in the second set early on. They realized that we have some people who can score and cause them some problems,” UND coach Mark Pryor said.
“They got really aggressive from the service line, they got up by about nine or 10 points and after that it was kind of side-out ball the rest of the way.”
No. 3 Wisconsin Regional
Wisconsin 3, Washington State 0: The Badgers looked as good as they have all season in a 25-18, 25-18, 25-17 rout of the Pac-12 at-large entry.
Wisconsin, an at-large from the Big Ten, improved to 27-4 overall and moves on to the round of 16, which it will host next week.
“I think our team just keeps getting better and better,” Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield said. “I thought that was a really good win against a team with a coaching staff that I’ve got a lot of respect for and the year that they’ve had and the direction that they’re heading. That’s a hard conference to make the move up like they’ve had and they’ve had a lot of great wins and a lot of talented players over there.”
Lauryn Gillis led a balanced Wisconsin attack with 12 kills. Four others had six or more as the Badgers hit .248. Middle Haleigh Nelson had eight kills, hit .533 and had seven blocks.
Washington State ended its season 22-12. Kyra Holt led with 12 kills but hit .139.
“With that firepower that they have and you hold them to hitting zero those last two sets and under .100 for the match, I think you have to feel good about how our defense is playing, how our serving is doing,” Sheffield said.
“It’s a really good blocking team and they didn’t really get going with their blocks but on the other hand I think we did a really good job of getting our hands across the net and finishing our blocks. We were excited about the opportunity that we had tonight and we’re certainly very excited about the opportunity to continue playing.”
Washington State had its best season since 1988.
“First of all Wisconsin is extremely good,” WSU coach Jen Greeny said. “I’m proud of this team for how far we’ve come into the second round, but Wisconsin is a fabulous team.
“We definitely couldn’t get our offense going tonight against Wisconsin’s great defense. I’m excited for Wisconsin to go on and I’m very proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished this year.”
Ohio State 3, Missouri State 0: The Buckeyes, an at-large from the Big Ten who have been up and down, were up Friday in a 25-21, 25-15, 31-29 victory over Missouri State, an at-large from the Missouri Valley Conference.
Ohio State improved to 21-12 as it moved into the second round for the third season in a row. What’s more, it sets up a Saturday match with host Kansas State that will pit the Sandbothe sisters, Ohio State senior middle Taylor and K-State freshman Elle.
The elder Sandbothe was the leader for the Buckeyes with 14 kills and three blocks. Luisa Schirmer and Taylor Hughes added 10 kills apiece.
Missouri State ended its season 26-9. It was a rare match when Lily Johnson did not lead the Bears on offense. Simon House had 12 kills and Lynsey Wright 10. Johnson had just eight kills and her seven errors left with a .029 hitting percentage. Johnson is fifth in the NCAA in total kills and 13th in kills per set, 4.58.
Kansas State 3, Lipscomb 0: The scores let you know that the Atlantic-10 champs gave K-State all it could handle. Truly a match that ended 28-26, 25-15, 26-24 could have gone differently, but K-State, an at-large from the Big 12, improved to 21-9, while Lipscomb ended its season 22-8.
“I thought we were well prepared,” said K-State coach Suzie Fritz, whose team won in the postseason for the first time since 2011. “I felt that we had tremendous composure throughout the rest of the match when they pressed us. I felt like we maintained really nice composure, just feeling like we were going to win the next point.”
The Wildcats hit .374, led by Brooke Sassin’s 11 kills. Six of her teammates had six or more kills.
“I did not think that we played incredibly clean from start to finish,” Fritz added. “But we did hit .374, which is a pretty nice night for us. Also, .374 will keep us in a lot of matches.”
Lauren Anderson led the Bisons with a match-high 12 kills, hitting .500, and also had seven digs. Carlyle Nusbaum added 10 kills.
“My last message to the team was we are not walking out of here hanging our heads,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “It sounds so silly but there is a lot of love in this program. We don’t always agree. I don’t want to paint it like it is a Rockwell picture all the time.
“But it is not just cheap talk. It is the real deal. That makes it hard on nights like this. These girls are special and they had an awesome season.”
Florida State 3, Cincinnati 0: The Seminoles advanced, but they got all they could handle from Cincinnati in a 20-25, 25-14, 25-23, 25-23 victory as Katie Horton had 17 kills, a career-high 26 digs and five blocks.
Natasha Calkins and Stasa Miljevic had seven kills each for FSU.
The Seminoles are 25-5 and get old nemesis Florida. The Gators won their Sept. 14 match 3-1 at FSU. Florida coach Mary Wise called it “a classic Florida-Florida State match.” Expect more of the same at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. It can be seen on the SEC Network Plus.
Cincinnati, an at-large out of the American Athletic Conference, ended its season 22-10.
Sophomore Jordan Thompson, the AAC player of the year, had a huge match with 28 kills and hit .383.
Florida 3, Alabama State 0: The 11th-seeded Gators moved on 25-15, 25-13, 25-9 over the overmatched Hornets from the SWAC. Florida is 27-3, while Alabama State’s season ended 24-9. It sets up another Florida-Florida State battle.
Junior Carli Snyder led Florida, an at-large from the SEC, with 14 kills and four of the Gators’ nine aces. Alex Holston had 13 kills and a block and Rhamat Alhassan had eight kills and five blocks.
Alabama State, which went 18-0 in the SWAC, got six kills apiece from Bayle Bennett and Briana Dorsey.
“I do know one thing—that this loss will fuel our training in the spring for next season,” Alabama State coach Penny Lucas-White said. “I hate that it ended this way — without leaving it all on the court — but when you look at our whole season, it was a wonderful journey. We enjoyed each other.
“ … It was supposed to be a rebuilding year and we swept (our conference), so it’s a great year. But, at the end of the day, we are competitors and we have some more work to do.”
Boise State 3, Western Kentucky 0: Sierra Nobley and the Broncos keep on bucking. Nobley had 17 kills and a career-high seven blocks as Boise State put an end to a great season for WKU 28-26, 25-22, 27-25 in another match that was as close as it gets despite the sweep.
Boise State is 26-6, the most victories in school history, as it takes on Stanford on Saturday.
“I am really excited for the team and with the win in our first trip to the NCAA,” said Boise coach Shawn Garus, whose team won its 15th in a row. “I thought our team did a really good job in handling the pressure and played well throughout.”
Sabryn Roberts and Kaitlyn Oliver had 11 kills each for Boise.
WKU’s season ended 30-3 as it lost the first two sets of a match for the first time all season and saw an end to its 22-match winning streak.
Alyssa Cavanaugh led with 17 kills and hit .342, and Rachel Anderson had 13 kills and four blocks. Boise completely shut down Jessica Lucas, who had three kills but three errors.
“This is a disappointing end to the season, but what can you say, this is the first time we’ve lost since Sept. 10,” WKU coach Travis Hudson said. “It takes nothing away from the amazing group of kids I’ve had and the incredible season that they’ve had.”
Stanford 3, Denver 0: The No. 6 seed won 25-12, 25-22, 25-20 to improve to 36-0 in first-round NCAA play. The Cardinal is 22-7 and gets Boise State.
Senior Inky Ajanaku had 12 kills and hit .526, junior Ivana Vanjak and freshman Kathryn Plummer had 11 kills each. Plummer had three of Stanford’s five service aces and Ajanaku had three blocks.
Kayla Principato had a match-high 13 kills and hit .480 for Denver, the Summit League champion whose season ended 23-9.
No. 4 Texas Regional
Creighton 3, Kansas 2: If you missed this one, you missed the showcase match of the first two days. While it is an upset — Kansas was the No. 5 seed — Creighton is back in the round of 16 for the second straight year. The scores alone — 21-25, 25-20, 25-17, 16-25, 20-18 — let you know what a battle it was, and the fifth set was something else. Creighton had six match points before winning it on a kill of an overpass by Megan Ballenger.
Creighton, the Big East champ, has won 22 matches in a row and improved to 28-6. It plays Michigan in the round of 16. Where will be determined on Saturday.
“That was the best match I’ve ever been a part of,” said Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth, whose team won in five the night before against Northern Iowa.
She had to beat two of her strong coaching friends to advance, Bobbi Peterson of UNI and then Ray Bechard of Kansas on Friday.
“Ray has been a mentor to me and someone that is a good friend. I enjoy their entire staff. It’s the way I felt last night with UNI. I hate that someone’s season ends because in a match like that it could’ve gone either way. Hats off to them on a phenomenal season. To some degree we’re playing with house money and I think the pressure is tough.
“They obviously gave us everything we could handle. It was surreal. We made our first Sweet 16 last year and that was pretty incredible, but this one is even bigger because KU is fifth in the country. To do it on their home court in such a great atmosphere.
“I alluded to this last night — in the preseason in those situations we got tentative and we went for it tonight. Had we lost, I said this in the locker room, I would’ve been so proud of the way we played. It would have killed us I think, but we went for it. That’s a huge step for this team and this program and against great teams you have to do that. I’m a little bit of a recording from last night on that front. I still think I’m a little bit in shock, but we are really excited to move on. It was an incredible match.”
Jaali Winters continued to be a force for Creighton. She had 23 kills and two aces. Marysa Wilkinson had 15 kills and a block and Taryn Kloth 12 kills and two blocks.
Big 12 champion Kansas, which was 8-0 in previous five-set matches and 12-0 at home, ended its season 27-3.
Kelsie Payne led the Jayhawks with 26 kills and four blocks as she completed another All-American season. Jada Burse added 12 kills and two blocks and Madison Rigdon had 12 kills and three blocks.
“It was a special atmosphere in there, a special effort from both teams,” Bechard said. “I’m as proud as I can be for our group, but pretty devastated that we couldn’t flip the score.”
Michigan 3, Oregon 1: The 12th-seeded Wolverines are in the round of 16 for the first time since 2012, when Michigan went on to the national semifinals. Michigan, an at-large from the Big Ten, improved to 24-10 by ousting Oregon 22-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-17. Oregon, an at-large from the Pac-12, ended 21-10.
Claire Kieffer-Wright led Michigan with a career-high 20 kills. She had two errors in 25 swings and hit .725. She also had seven blocks, two solo. Abby Cole added 11 kills and four blocks and Carly Skjodt had nine kills and four blocks, two solo.
Oregon was led by freshman middle Ronika Stone, who had 17 kills and hit .536. Junior Taylor Agost added 10 kills.
“Unfortunately I knew in the middle of the third set that whoever won that third set was going to win the match. It just felt like one of those matches and it happens every once in awhile. It’s really hard to recover emotionally from a set like that and bounce back emotionally if you’re down,” Oregon coach Jim Moore said.
“That was just a knockdown, drag-out fight and unfortunately it turned their way.”
BYU 3, Princeton 0: The West Coast Conference champions move on, but BYU got all it could handle from a scrappy group of Tigers, the Ivy League winners. The final was 25-22, 25-15, 25-23 and left BYU 28-3, while Princeton’s season ended 19-5.
BYU’s attack was balanced with Veronica Jones-Perry and Whitney Howard with nine kills apiece. Jones-Perry had four blocks, Howard seven — two solo — and Amy Boswell had four kills and seven blocks, two solo.
Princeton got 12 kills from Maggie O’Connell and 11 from Cara Mattaliano, who also had 14 digs.
UNLV 3, Utah 1: The Rebels, an at-large from the Mountain West, got everyone’s attention on selection Sunday when committee chair said they were one of the last two in the tournament. They justified their place on Friday by ousting Utah 27-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-20 to improve to 24-7. There were 35 ties and 11 lead changes in the match.
Bree Hammel led with 18 kills and hit .298. She also had seven blocks, one solo. Sadie Stutzman added 14 kills.
“I think we felt good coming in because we felt our matchups were good,” UNLV coach Cindy Fredrick said. “We knew that (Utah’s Adora) Anae would be phenomenal, and she is, but we felt like with everything else, my players could match up to that. I like the fact that I’ve got a 5-1 and a setter (Alexis Patterson) that attacks the ball. I like that we matched up Bree with Anae, because when we went in we said, `It’s a battle between you two’.
“I think that we answered that battle. What I liked was that Sadie came through with some tremendous, tremendous plays, and Alexis found her and got her open, and thanks to also our middle blockers who did a great job. Sadie took total advantage of that and just used the blockers and put the ball away. I think they (Utah) were so focused on Bree and they wanted to shut her down, but I don’t think they did and everybody else added to that.”
Utah, an at-large from the Pac-12, ended 20-12. Anae led with 21 kills and 13 digs, Carly Trueman had 15 kills and hit .400, and Tawnee Luafalemana had 10 kills and hit .315. She had five blocks.
“I give UNLV a lot of credit,” Utah coach Beth Launiere said. “They blocked very well all night and did a great job of keeping us out of rhythm. They made plays. I thought we made a lot of plays as well, but there were a lot of little things that definitely caught us. I think the key thing was they posed a lot of problems for us defensively.”
SMU 3, Texas A&M 1: SMU had never played Texas A&M. And the Mustangs haven’t played Texas since 2011. What a difference a trip to the NCAA Tournament can make.
SMU swept Texas A&M on Friday at Texas 25-23, 25-23, 25-18 for its first NCAA win ever. The Mustangs improved to 26-7 and now the American Athletic Conference champions get No. 4 seed Texas.
Junior opposite Katie Hegarty led with 14 kills as SMU became the first AAC team to ever win an NCAA match.
“I’m just so incredibly proud of the way that we worked all season,” said SMU coach Lisa Seifert, who started at SMU in 1996. “I think we came into early August during our two-a-days and pretty much questioned what was going to happen. We didn’t know for sure who was going to run our offense, or what our offense was going to be. We had to fill some spots in the left side and we just turned it up since then.
“The last eight to ten matches have been some of our best. This particular match that we just played, in my opinion, was our best.”
Janelle Giordano and Kristen Stehling had 10 kills apiece for SMU.
Texas A&M, an at-large from the SEC, ended its season 21-9. Freshman outside Hollann Hans had 13 kills. Sophomore middle Kaitlyn Blake and senior middle Jazzmin Babers had 11 kills apiece. Blake hit .500 and had four blocks.
Texas 3, UTRGV 0: The Longhorns are 23-4 after sweeping UT Rio Grande Valley 25-14, 25-16, 25-17, which sets up a Saturday match with SMU at 7 p.m. It will be shown on the Longhorn Network and ESPN3.
Texas and SMU have only played twice, the last time in 2011.
Texas, 30-0 in first-round matches got 13 kills in 14 swings with no errors from senior Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani, who hit .929. She also had two blocks as she moved from outside to middle.
“We just did a nice job of staying steady the whole night and just playing consistently,” Texas coach Jerritt Elliott said.
The Vaqueros of the Western Athletic Conference ended their season 21-14.