Ranked teams hold serve in Thursday’s NCAA volleyball action

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NC State's Perry Ramsey goes against UNC blockers Beth Nordhorn, left, and Taylor Treacy/NC State photo

Imagine, a day without major upsets in NCAA volleyball.

Well, it actually happened Thursday, on a night when all the ranked teams that played — No. 7 San Diego, No. 12 North Carolina, No. 13 BYU and No. 23 Oregon —won, although UNC barely got away with a victory at NC State. And there was one for the books at Tulsa, where Cincinnati came away with a five-set victory.

It sets up a big Friday with a bunch of fun matches on tap and many of them are listed below.

Start with the battle in Raleigh, an ACC opener for both teams, as UNC escaped 25-17, 20-25, 21-25, 25-14, 15-7.

“This was a great win for us,”  said UNC coach Joe Sagula, whose Tar Heels improved to 9-2. “What I’m most proud of is the way our team played in the fourth and fifth sets. I thought we got after it with courage, with aggressiveness and a lack of concern or worry with the pressure of knowing that we had to win. I thought we just went out and played hard, and I’m really excited that that’s what we’re capable of doing.”

While Sagula is the dean of ACC coaches, NC State’s Linda Hampton-Keith is in her first year with the Wolfpack. Her team is 7-6 overall.

“It was a fantastic match played by both teams, but no moral victories,” Hampton-Keith said. “I think the expectation is high and we’re OK with that, so we’re disappointed to lose.”

UNC freshman outside hitter Julia Scoles had five kills on eight swings in the fifth set to finish with 18 kills and one error to hit .386, 10 digs and a personal-best seven blocks.

“I thought the energy level was really high,” Scoles said. “We really came together and knew we had to accomplish a common goal, keep the energy up and keep supporting each other to be better.”

Senior opposite Taylor Treacy had one error and hit .448 with 14 kills and six blocks, while sophomore Taylor Leath recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 15 kills and 16 digs.

Senior Abigail Curry had a season-high 42 assists to go with eight digs. Senior libero Sheila Doyle had 22 digs.

Carolina had a 10-1 run in the fifth set to take a 10-4 lead.

NC State junior Julia Brown led the Wolfpack with 17 kills and 21 digs to record her fourth consecutive and sixth overall double-double this season. Classmate Perry Ramsey had 16 kills, while Teni Sopitan had 12. Rachel Eppley had 22 digs and Kaitlyn Kearney had four blocks.

“We had some opportunities there that we didn’t capitalize on,” Hampton-Keith said. “Offensively we had some stalls that we’ll look to address. If you go up 2-1 on a team like that you have to continue to maintain and keep your level high so you can take advantage of that opportunity and finish out with a win. We’ll learn from that and move on and keep plugging away.”

All in all, it was quite an introduction to one of the nation’s great college rivalries.

“It was fun and always is to be a part of the rivalry. The crowd was great and we had lots of fun and exciting things going on in the environment. It was a really fun match to be a part of and I hope our fans keep coming back because I think it was a fun and entertaining game for the fans to see.”

Tulsa's Trinity Alualu hits against Cincinnati's Casey Nolan, left, and Maya Muldron/Tulsa photo
Tulsa’s Haley Coulter hits against Cincinnati’s Casey Nolan, left, and Maya Muldrow/Tulsa photo

Speaking of fun to see, how about American Athletic Conference favorite Cincinnati winning at Tulsa 25-22, 19-25, 25-15, 23-25, 15-13?

Three sophomores led the Bearcats. Jade Tingelhoff tied a career high with 51 assists and had a career-high 19 digs. Jordan Thompson tied a career-high with 27 kills and had a career-high 13 digs, and Carly Nolan added 11 kills and 11 digs.

A kill by Thompson set up match point for the Bearcats at 14-13 and the officials conferred on the final play before awarding a kill to senior Ciara Hill to end it.

Cincinnati is 6-6, while Tulsa fell to 11-2.

Senior outside Erica Bohannon led Tulsa with 22 kills while senior Brooke Berryhill had 20 digs on a night where she became the second Tulsa player to eclipse the 2,000 career-digs mark.

San Diego didn’t skip a beat as it entered West Coast Conference play, rolling past visiting San Francisco  25-16, 25-16, 25-7. The Toreros are now 10-2 after winning their ninth in a row, while USF is 4-10.

Lisa Kramer paced a balanced USD offense with nine kills while hitting .571. Lauren Schad added seven kills, while Lauren Fuller, Jayden Kennedy and Merve Tanyel had six kills apiece. Kristen Gengenbacher and Anna Newsome each had 16 assists, and Hunter Jennings had 11 digs.

WCC rival BYU improved to 12-1 by beating visiting Santa Clara 25-19, 29-27, 25-17.

Lacy Haddock finished with a career-high 14 kills while hitting .407,while McKenna Miller added 12 kills. Mary Lake had a team-high 11 digs and Lyndie Haddock and Hannah Robison both had eight. Whitney Young Howard contributed four blocks and seven kills.

BYU coach Heather Olmstead
BYU coach Heather Olmstead

“I loved the team effort tonight,” BYU coach Heather Olmstead said. “A lot of people stepped up. We talked about staying calm when we were down and just battling. I thought we battled in the second set and that was really good for us to have to go through.”

Santa Clara lost for the fourth consecutive time to fall to 9-4. Sabrina Clayton led with 11 kills as her team was swept for the first time in 36 matches, a streak started more than two years ago when the Broncos lost to Texas on September 11, 2015.

The rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State is called the Civil War and the Ducks ruled 25-13, 25-21, 25-16 as they won their eighth in a row to improve to 8-2.

Senior libero Amanda Benson had a season-high 23 digs. Freshmen Jolie Rasmussen (.417 hitting percentage) and Ronika Stone (.476) had 11 kills each, with Stone leading the match with six blocks.

“Playing in my first Civil War was crazy,” Stone said. “The band really got us hyped in the beginning so we were really excited to come out.”

Lindsey Vander Weide added nine kills and 10 digs, freshman Willow Johnson had ] eight kills on 13 swings (.538) and sophomore August Raskie had a career-high 11 digs and a season-high 26 assists.

“Thirty kills and three errors, not bad for freshmen,” Oregon coach Jim Moore said of his young front-row lineup. “We knew they were good. They have confidence, and they’re where they are for a reason.”

Northern Colorado's Timarie Nymeyer and Alex Kloehn put up a block against Northern Arizona's Lauren Jacobsen/Northern Colorado photo
Northern Colorado’s Timarie Nymeyer and Alex Kloehn put up a block against Northern Arizona’s Lauren Jacobsen/Northern Colorado photo

In a matchup between the Big Sky Conference favorites, visiting Northern Arizona defeated Northern Colorado 17-25, 25-12, 25-21, 25-23. NAU had lost five of its previous six games in Greely, so coach Ken Murphy was obviously pleased.

“I was really proud of the way we regrouped after the start of that first set,” Murphy said. “Early on, one error led to another, and at some point we stopped worrying about our (serve) receive so much and that allowed us to relax and get into a flow. We focused on what we do well – playing one point at a time – to put ourselves back in the match and ultimately to win it.”

Lauren Jacobsen had 24 kills and hit .322 to lead the Lumberjacks.

Senior libero Makenna Meier led UNC with 31 digs. Middle Alex Kloehn had 15 kills.

“It was an up-and-down match. I told the team afterwards I thought at times we played our best volleyball of the season. But our lows are what hurt us and I thought our errors kind of multiplied on themselves and hurt us,” UNC coach Lyndsey Oates said. “We have to stop runs earlier. It certainly wasn’t a lack of effort, we played hard throughout the match. It was a good tactical match, we made good quick adjustments and kept making them.”

Among the matches to follow on Friday:

— Washington State, coming off its upset at Washington, at No. 9 UCLA

— No. 4 Washington at No. 21 USC

— No. 1 Nebraska at No. 22 Michigan

— No. 17 Ohio State at No. 3 Wisconsin

— Miami at No. 15 Florida State

— No. 19 Texas A&M at Alabama

— Also, Houston at UConn, Wichita State at Missouri State, UNI at Southern Illinois, No. 14 Hawai’i at UC Santa Barbara, and Marquette at Creighton.

There are no Big 12 matches on Friday, but Saturday No. 8 Kansas visits No. 5 Texas.

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