By Jen Armson-Dyer
Big Ten Defeats Big EastBoth No. 3 Illinois and No. 14 Purdue came away with two wins against Louisville and Cincinnati in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in Champaign, Ill. On Friday night, the Boilermakers needed five sets to take down the Cardinals (21-25, 25-19, 25-18, 16-25, 15-10) as junior Ariel Turner led the way with 20 kills and 15 digs. The same night, the Fighting Illini swept the Bearcats (25-16, 25-14, 25-12), led by senior outside hitter Michelle Bartsch with 10 kills on an errorless 24 swings to hit .417. On Saturday night, the Big East teams were reversed but the outcome was similar, with Purdue sweeping Cincinnati (25-15, 25-16, 25-18), again led by Turner with 16 kills and 12 digs. Illinois outlasted Louisville 25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-9 as freshman outside hitter Liz McMahon led the Illini with 20 kills on .576 hitting (20-1-33) and senior outside hitter Colleen Ward chipped in 19 kills. “We've been in some tough battles,” said Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly of his team’s preseason 11-0 record. “We've shown signs of what we want to be in December. We just have to stay with this process. Over time, I love the potential of this team. We have so many weapons. When we start to steady out and solidify our system, which will happen in the Big Ten, we're going to take some big strides forward."
LA Schools Split In WashingtonNo. 13 Southern California played spoiler at No. 4 Washington’s Pac-12 home opener as the Women of Troy swept the Huskies 25-20, 28-26, 25-20 Friday night. The loss marks the first dropped conference-opening match in head coach Jim McLaughlin’s 11-year tenure at Washington and the match was USC’s first win in Seattle since 2004. Junior outside hitter Katie Fuller and sophomore outside hitter Sara Shaw led the Trojans with a career-high 15 kills apiece, with Shaw’s coming on .481 hitting (15-2-27). USC led the attacking battle with 48 kills to Washington’s 33, also outhitting the Huskies .240. USC sophomore libero Natalie Hagglund dominated the USC defense with 30 digs, which tied a USC record for digs in a three-set match. "I hope this influences how we train," said McLaughlin after the match. "I thought SC played well but we didn't play well. We've got to fix some things and come out and not play on our heels and take a step forward. We have to talk more and let our instincts take over and not play tentative."
McLaughlin’s words hit their mark as the following night Washington swept No. 6 UCLA 26-24, 25-12, 25-20 in front of 3,174 fans. Three Husky players reached double-digit kills, led by junior outside hitter Kylin Munoz with 13 on .429 hitting (13-1-28) as senior middle hitter Bianca Rowland hit .647 with 12 kills and freshman outside hitter Krista Vansant added in 10 kills. Freshman outside hitter Summer Ross and sophomore Jenna Orlandini each posted 10 digs as senior setter Evan Sanders and senior middle hitter Lauren Barfield both notched four blocks as Washington outblocked UCLA 7.5-5.0 and hit .340 for the match, including .481 in the second set (13-0-27). "It's gratifying just because of what happened last night, and to bounce back like that and play like we did says a lot about the people; their behavior and what's going through their minds," said McLaughlin after the match with the Bruins. "When I looked at their eyes in the lockerroom last night, there was some pain, and I told them that's a good thing because it means they invest at a high level, but we didn't get a return on the court. Tonight we did. We just did our jobs better, were in better spots, and were much more aggressive."
Nebraska Sweeps Iowa StateThe 10th-ranked Huskers swept the 12th-ranked Cyclones in their final preseason match in front of 10,380 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. It was the first time the two schools faced off as non-conference opponents, as Nebraska will open its first season of Big Ten play on Wednesday night by hosting Penn State. Junior outside hitter Gina Mancuso led Nebraska with 14 kills and sophomore Morgan Broekhuis chipped in 11 as the Huskers outhit the Cyclones .281 to .087, including .406 in the first set. Nebraska also dominated the blocking game, 13.0-1.0, led by senior middle hitter Brooke Delano with seven stuffs. "There was some really good volleyball played tonight," Nebraska head coach John Cook told the Lincoln Journal Star. "Much better than anything we've done this year."
Denver Defeats Colorado State
Picking up its first win over a ranked opponent since becoming Division I in 1999, Denver defeated in-state rival No. 19 Colorado State in four sets (27-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-22) at Hamilton Gymnasium in Denver. Junior middle hitter Faimie Kingsley led the Pioneers with 15 kills on .560 hitting (15-1-25) and a team-high seven blocks. Junior Lyndi Johnson and redshirt freshman Kate Oakes posted 15 and 14 digs, respectively, as redshirt senior setter Julie Cawthra posted three of the team’s eight service aces. "I couldn't be more proud of how our team performed tonight," said Denver head coach Beth Kuwata. "All of the hard work and attention to those minor details is really starting to pay off and I am so happy for them that they were able to come out tonight and show that tonight."
Wake Forest Stuns Duke, 3-1Three Deacon players reached double-digit kills as Wake Forest upset No. 23 Duke in four games (25-21, 24-26, 25-21, 25-23) to open ACC play. Both senior middle hitter Carlin Salmon and senior outside hitter Kadija Fornah notched 21 kills, with Salmon’s career-high coming on .576 hitting (21-2-33), as sophomore middle hitter Kristin Grossom added in 10 kills. As a team, Wake Forest hit .318 while holding Duke to .230. The Deacons also outblocked the Blue Devils 11.0 to 8.0 as Fornah and Grissom each posted five stuffs. "As a team, we're very disappointed with the outcome of the match tonight, but we have to give Wake Forest credit," Duke head coach Jolene Nagel said. "They played a great match and they played very hard. At key times, they played more aggressively than we did. We gave a great effort tonight though, and I'm proud of the way our team played. I think that we just needed to work better together as a team during adverse times out there. We're still developing as a team so that we can handle adversity. I see some very positive things from us, but right now we've got to stick together, continue to come together and find our personality as a team. We have to find how we're going to work best together on the court."
Xavier Outlasts Texas A&MMusketeer sophomore outside hitter Sarah Brown pounded 26 kills on .380 hitting as Xavier outlasted Texas A&M in five sets (25-22, 18-25, 25-19, 21-25, 15-11) in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Musketeers claimed the defensive battle, 71-70, led by junior libero Stephanie Vorherr with 22 digs and junior Kaela Jo Freppon with 17. Each squad posted eight blocks in the match. "This was a great team win," said Xavier head coach Mike Johnson. "It showed the power of what it means to play fundamental, disciplined volleyball. I was impressed on how we stayed together and fought, especially when things got tough. Texas A&M is a great team and we are happy to come away with this win."