This is the best NCAA volleyball weekend: A cornucopia of notes and links

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Some like the championship weekend the best, the four teams, the big gathering, the big celebration at the end.

That’s a great time, but for my money — or, in this case, multi-platform match-watching — this weekend is the best.

Eight matches Friday and four more Saturday that decide who goes to Omaha for next week’s NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship.

Because the truth is the matches this weekend are normally closer and more exciting than what happens in the semifinals and final. And I don’t want to miss a one, which is why I chose to be home instead of at a regional with my TV, Apple TV, ipad, computers and phone so I can watch them all.

All that being said, it’s great to see the local media outlets at the four sites — Des Moines, Austin, San Diego and Lexington — plus the media outlets from the cities of the 16 different schools stepping up and giving volleyball some great coverage.

Quickly, here is a schedule for Friday. The first seven matches are available on ESPN3 and the last, USC-Creighton, on ESPNU. All four of Saturday’s matches go back-to-back-to-back-to-back on ESPNU.

At 5 p.m. Eastern we have BYU-Nebraska. A half-hour later Florida-Wisconsin serve off. A half-hour after that, at 6 p.m., Illinois-Minnesota takes the floor. At 7:30 Ohio State-Washington gets going.

At 8 p.m. UCLA-Texas starts. Two matches begin at 8:30p.m., Hawaii-Penn State and Loyola Marymount-Kansas. And at 11 p.m., 8 p.m. on the West Coast, Creighton-USC gets going. For the complete scoreboard, check it out here.

If you’re a college-volleyball junkie and aren’t excited about those eight matches, well, I can’t help you.

Anyway, back to all the media coverage. For your perusal and easy clicking, here are an abundance of links to check out.

The Austin-American Statesman has a nice look at the four teams in Austin with some great notes.

And that same media outlet has a feature on Texas freshman Yaazie Bedart-Ghani, who almost went to UCLA.

The Centre Daily Times did a piece on Penn State redshirt-freshman setter Bryanna Weiskircher.

The Pioneer Press in Minneapolis, also TwinCities.com, had a feature with a headline that said it all, “Gophers volleyball the gold standard now at the U.”

And the StarTribune has a feature on Minnesota’s Puerto Rican teammates Daly Santana and Dalianliz Rosado.

The Florida-Wisconsin matchup got this look in the Wisconsin paper the Journal-Times

https://journaltimes.com/sports/college/volleyball/badgers-volleyball-florida-offers-intriguing-challenge/article_b7856251-ec3a-514e-858a-ac0fd8d86b2a.html

And this is actually a story from the Wisconsin athletic department, but a really well-written, in-depth good look at the Badgers and well worth your time.

Even in SoCal, where media coverage is hard to get for volleyball, there’s a story about USC’s Samantha Bricio by one of the nation’s great sportswriters, Mark Whicker, in the LA Daily News.

The Omaha World-Herald has this piece about Nebraska as it prepared to play BYU after losing to the Cougars in last year’s NCAA Tournament.There’s also a audio update from report Jeff Sheldon.

https://www.omaha.com/huskers/nebraska-volleyball-appears-better-built-to-face-byu/article_c3f0da18-98fa-5b84-a070-acc50a1f5db4.html

The Associated Press in Omaha noted that the state of Nebraska has two teams in the final 16 and in Division II had Wayne State in the round of eight. Two other state schools, Hastings College and Midland University, made the final 12 of the NAIA tournament …

If you missed it earlier in the week, our guy Greg Echlin of Kansas City had this story for NPR about how well volleyball is doing in the area, which includes Kansas and Creighton in the final 16. Here’s a link at which you can hear the audio version and read the written piece …

Lubbock Christian’s Malori Maddox is recovering from surgery after she lost vision in her right eye. Here’s the feature story.

And, of course, elsewhere on this site this past week we had video chats with Creighton coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth, Loyola Marymount coach Tom Black, and Chloe Collins, the remarkable setter for Texas.

NCAA Division II semifinals set

The national championship is in Tampa and Wheeling Jesuit plays Western Washington, while Wayne State faces Palm Beach Atlantic. Click here for the video update and all the info.

Colorado, Texas Tech need coaches

No word on who Colorado will get to replace Liz Kritza, but after she was fired Texas Tech fired Don Flora. Here’s the release from Texas Tech, where — stop me if you’ve heard this before — the school says it will conduct “a national search.”

Since we last posted notes and such, Colorado has formed a search committee. Here’s the news release from last week.

The last line: “The committee will find a candidate who can position the Buffs to compete for and win championships.”

There’s also an opening at Metropolitan State University Denver, where coach Debbie Hendricks is retiring after 16 years. Hendricks was 549-229 in 24 seasons overall, 353-148 at MSU Denver.

Gatorade POYs

You want to know who won in each state?

Here’s a link. Gatorade evidently couldn’t collect many pictures of the winners, so there are a lot of silhouettes.

The national player of the year is Khalia Lanier, an outside hitter at Xavier College Prep in Phoenix. Here’s a link to the page about Lanier, who not only had 496 kills last high school season, but has a weighted 4.21 grade-point average. She’s going to USC.

NAIA women’s All-Americans

Columbia’s Penny Liu was named the national-championship POY. Here’s the full release. The NAIA named three teams plus honorable mentions.

Men’s polls: AVCA, MPSF

The first AVCA national poll has BYU at the top, followed by UC Irvine, defending national-champion Loyola Chicago, and then Long Beach State. UCLA, Ohio State and Hawaii come next, and listed eighth is Lewis, which lost in five to Loyola in last spring’s NCAA title match.

In the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, which fields men’s teams that have no other league in which to play, BYU was voted No. 1. From the release:

“The Cougars return 2013 AVCA Newcomer of the Year and MPSF Freshman of the Year Ben Patch at opposite, after a two-year absence from the team, alongside all-conference outside hitter Jake Langlois and middle blocker Michael Hatch. 2014 AVCA Women’s National Coach of the Year Shawn Olmstead takes over for the Cougar men.”

UC Irvine was second, followed by UCLA.

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