by Jen Armson-Dyer
California, Stanford Take Down Washington
It was a tough weekend for the second-ranked Huskies, who dropped contests to No. 4 California and No. 7 Stanford on the road. The Golden Bears claimed the win in four sets on Friday night (25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 27-25) in front of 1,875 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. Senior outside hitter Tarah Murrey notched a double-double with a match-high 21 kills and 18 digs while freshman outside hitter Christina Higgins posted 13 kills, redshirt junior middle hitter Shannon Hawari chipped in 12 kills on .409 hitting (12-3-22) and junior Correy Johnson added in 11. Junior setter Elly Barrett dished out 55 assists while picking up 12 digs and junior libero Robin Rostratter led the match with 26 digs. Junior middle hitter Kat Brown led the blocking front with seven stuffs. For Washington, freshman outside hitter Summer Ross led the team with 14 kills. In the match, Cal recorded 14 more kills (63-49) and 23 more digs (94-71) as Washington claimed the blocking battle, 13.5 to 12.0. "I really thought our blocking and defense came on tonight," Cal head coach Rich Feller said. "Also, being able to adjust when we couldn't pass very well helped. We still weren't as good as we could have been on some of our defense but we can make some adjustments and be even better."
The following night, the Cardinal earned a sweep (25-19, 25-16, 25-23) in front of more than 4,200 fans at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, Calif. Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Williams led Stanford with 15 kills as sophomore middle hitter Carly Wopat picked up 10 kills on .500 hitting (10-1-18). Three Stanford players reached double-digit digs, led by junior setter Karissa Cook with 13. Wopat and Cook also both topped the squad with four blocks. The Cardinals recorded more kills (46-29) and digs (59-40) while Washington picked up one more block (10.0-9.0). Freshman outside hitter Krista Vansant led Washington with nine kills and 11 digs. "I was disappointed in that we didn't play well in any facet of the game," said Washington head coach Jim McLaughlin. "Stanford deserves some credit for that, but we did not do anything at the level you need to beat a good team on the road. We've got to get to work and fix things."
Nebraska Survives Minnesota
The fifth-ranked Huskers moved to 8-0 in the Big Ten with a five-set victory (28-30, 19-25, 25-10, 25-12, 15-11) over the 14th-ranked Golden Gophers Saturday night in Minneapolis in front of 9,353 at Williams Arena, the fourth-largest crowd ever to witness a Gopher volleyball match. Nebraska emerged from the locker room between games two and three a different team, as evidenced by its hitting percentage. In the first two sets, the Huskers hit a combined .133 (28-16-90) and in the final three sets they attacked at a .367 clip (34-5-79) and also held Minnesota to a combined -.167 percentage in that time (24-25-68). Junior outside hitter Gina Mancuso led three Nebraska players in double-digit kills with 18 as both sophomore opposite Morgan Broekhuis and junior outside hitter Hannah Werth chipped in 15 kills. Freshman libero Lara Dykstra led four players in double-digit digs with 23 as junior setter Lauren Cook put up a double-double with 45 assists and 19 digs. Senior middle hitter Brooke Delano dominated the net with 12 blocks as Werth added in six. For the match, Nebraska outblocked Minnesota 17.0 to 8.0. Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Wittman led the Gophers with 22 kills. "I told them before that this was going to be our toughest test," Nebraska head coach John Cook told the Lincoln Journal Star. "I thought we found a way to hang in there and try to win game one, and we just didn't capitalize. It's indescribable as a coach when you see your team, that you've been training and working so hard on throwing clipboards and threatening to throw them out of practice, to see them come together and play together. I don't know what else you can ask for as a coach."
Georgia Tech Upsets Miami
The Yellow Jackets captured a four-set victory over the No. 23 Hurricanes (11-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21) Sunday in Coral Gables, Fla. Sophomore setter Kaleigh Colson led Georgia Tech with a triple double of 12 kills on .800 hitting (12-0-15), 34 assists and 11 digs, and also added in four service aces. It marks the first triple-double since the 2006 season for the Yellow Jackets. Junior opposite Monique Mead led all players with 19 kills as junior libero Nicki Meyer also added in 11 digs. Sophomore middle hitter Quinn Evans led the blocking list with four stuffs. Senior outside hitter Lane Carico led Miami with 14 kills. “I thought it was a great, gutsy performance by our kids,” said Georgia Tech head coach Tonya Johnson, who picked up her 50th win as a Yellow Jacket. “To lose the first set 11-25 and then to come back and play with some determination like we did in sets two, three and four speaks volumes about the character of this team.”
Mississippi State Takes Out Kentucky In Front Of Record Crowd
The Bulldogs swept the 25th-ranked Wildcats (25-23, 25-18, 25-19) Friday night in Starkville, Miss., in front of 4,535 fans, the largest crowd in Mississippi State history, and also the largest crowd to ever watch a collegiate volleyball match. It was Mississippi State’s second win against Kentucky in 42 matches. Senior outside hitter Caitlin Rance led the Bulldogs with 14 kills as junior opposite Faith Steinwedell posted 11 and senior middle hitter Hannah Wilkinson chipped in seven kills on an errorless 15 swings to hit .467. Sophomore setter Paris Perret dished out 34 assists and junior libero Hillary Parker picked up a match-high 17 digs. Wilkinson led the blocking front with five stuffs as Mississippi State outblocked Kentucky 9.0 to 5.0 for the match. Ashley Frazier led Kentucky with 15 kills. “I am so very proud of our players,” said Mississippi State head coach Jenny Hazelwood. “We executed our game plan well tonight and the team seemed very comfortable playing in front of a huge supportive crowd.”