By Jen Armson-Dyer
Arizona State Upsets No. 2 Cal
For the first time since 2002, Arizona State defeated No. 2 California, taking down the Golden Bears in five games (25-23, 14-25, 20-25, 26-24, 15-7) on Wednesday night in Berkeley, Calif. Three Sun Devil players reached double-digit kills, led by senior outside hitter Sarah Reaves with 16 and sophomore outside hitter Malia Marquardt and sophomore middle hitter Erica Wilson with 15 apiece. Junior setter Cat Highmark distributed 54 assists and senior libero Sarah Johnson led the defense with 24 digs. Arizona State outblocked Cal 16.0 to 11.0, led by Wilson and sophomore middle hitter Alexis Pinson with eight stuffs each.
Utah State Shocks No. 3 Hawaii To Win First-Ever WAC Title
Snapping a streak of 10 straight conference tournament title victories by Hawaii, Utah State swept the Wahine (25-15, 27-25, 26-24) Wednesday in Las Vegas to capture its first-ever WAC Tournament Championship. The third-seeded Aggies become only the third team to ever win the WAC tournament, joining Hawaii and BYU, and the loss was the first in its last 24 matches for the Wahine. Utah State sophomore opposite Shay Sorensen led the squad with 13 kills on an errorless 19 swings to hit .684 (13-0-19) while junior outside hitter and tournament MVP Liz McArthur posted 12 kills and sophomore outside hitter Josselyn White added in nine kills. Senior setter Chelsea Fowles dished out 35 assists while senior libero Christine Morrill picked up a team-high 11 digs. Senior middle hitter Shantell Durrant led the blocking front with eight total blocks as Utah State outblocked Hawaii 11.0 to 4.0. With the win, Utah State earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will face No. 2 California in Berkeley, Calif. It is the fourth NCAA appearance for the Aggies.
Purdue, Indiana Take Down No. 10 Illinois
The Hoosier state combined for another sweep of a top-10 program after taking out Penn State earlier in the season, as this time Indiana and Purdue both beat No. 10 Illinois in four games. On Friday night the Hoosiers came away with the victory (25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 25-22) behind 18 kills on .469 hitting (18-3-32) from senior middle hitter Ashley Benson. Sophomore outside hitters Jordan Haverly and Ivie Obeime contributed 13 and 12 kills, respectively, as Indiana outhit Illinois .285 to .184. Junior setter Mary Chaudoin and sophomore setter Whitney Granado dished out 23 and 22 assists, respectively, as junior libero Caitlin Cox picked up a match-high 25 digs. Benson and senior middle hitter Taylor Wittmer led the blocking game with six stuffs each. With the win, Indiana once again proved its home-court advantage as the Hoosiers have now taken down the top four conference teams – Penn State, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan – within the not-so-friendly confines of University Gym in Bloomington, Ind.
Saturday night in West Lafayette, Ind., three Boilermakers reached double-digit kills in Purdue’s win over the Fighting Illini (25-19, 25-27, 25029, 28-26), led by sophomore middle hitter Anna Drewry with 17 kills, sophomore outside hitter Ariel Turner with 13 kills and redshirt freshman Catherine Rebarchak with 10 kills. Senior setter Jaclyn Hart dished out 52 assists and junior libero Blair Bashen led the way with 20 digs as junior middle hitter Tiffany Fisher topped the blocking chart with six stuffs. The win was the second over a top-10 foe this season for the Boilermakers. “To beat a top-10 ranked team is always exciting,” said Purdue head coach Dave Shondell. “Illinois is always well coached, they’ve got good talent and we’ve had a hard time with them the last couple of years, so to finally get over that hump was fun tonight. It was a great team effort, offensively we were nearly flawless and we had everyone hitting on all cylinders, but it was the defense that made the difference.”
Utah Upsets No. 14 Colorado State
Utah upset No. 14 Colorado State in four games (15-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-21) Wednesday in Fort Collins, Colo., for the program’s first win over a ranked opponent since Nov. 22, 2008, when it also defeated the Rams. Junior middle hitter Danielle Killpack pounded 16 kills on an errorless 25 swings to hit. 640 (16-0-25) for the match while senior Karolina Bartkowiak and freshman Erin Redd both chipped in 11 kills. Senior setter Stephanie Neeley contributed 46 assists as senior libero Keisha Fisher pulled up 21 digs to lead the Utes. Bartkowiak and Killpack led the Utah blocking front with seven and six blocks, respectively. "We've been working hard all season," said Utah head coach Beth Launiere. "We really put it together tonight and we played a good match against a good team. I'm proud of our team. We started playing with more confidence toward the end of the first set and that carried over for the rest of the match."
Boston College Captures Win Over Maryland
Boston College claimed its first ACC win of the season with a four-game win against Maryland (25-18, 18-25, 25-19, 25-23) on Wednesday in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Junior outside hitter Tsvetelina Dureva led the Eagles with 19 kills as senior middle hitter Melanie Cimino posted 13 kills on .571 hitting (13-1-21) and freshman middle hitter Melissa McTighe chipped in nine kills on .467 hitting (9-2-15). Senior setter Dani Moskitis dished out a season-high 54 assists and junior libero Brennan Clark picked up 22 digs to lead the defense, which outdug Maryland 62 to 50. McTighe also led the blocking front with five stuffs. "I'm really proud of the seniors to be ability to stay focused and concentrated throughout the season," BC head coach Chris Campbell said. "This win is a testament to their and the team's personal character, as well as their abilities as athletes. I'm happy we could finish on this note. We made a lot of strides this year, which wasn't always a smooth ride. Certainly this result shows that we are internalizing lessons as we go and is a good indication of where we'll go in the future and what we are capable of."