Illinois Tops Penn State
For the first time since 1995, the top-ranked Fighting Illini escaped Happy Valley with a win, defeating No. 8 Penn State in five sets (21-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12) in front of more than 5,200 fans at Rec Hall. The win also snapped Penn State’s 68-match Big Ten home winning streak. Senior outside hitter Colleen Ward led the Illini with 15 kills as freshman outside hitter Liz McMahon posted 14 and junior middle hitter Erin Johnson tallied 11 on .417 hitting. The Nittany Lions recorded 13 more kills in the match (68-55), and the service game was close (eight aces, six errors for Illinois; nine aces and five errors for Penn State), but Illinois came out on top in the blocking battle, 17.0 to 12.5. Fueling the Illini wall was redshirt freshman middle hitter Anna Dorn, who tied an Illinois record with 13 block assists, including four in the final set. Sophomore middle hitter Ariel Scott led Penn State with 27 kills as freshman setter Micha Hancock racked up seven service aces and 19 digs. For the match, nine players also reached double-digit digs as senior Michelle Bartsch led five Illini players with 25 digs and sophomore libero Ali Longo led four Lion players with 24 digs. "It was just an epic battle," head coach Kevin Hambly said. "I thought Liz (McMahon) in that second set took over and Anna Dorn took over the match blocking late, but it really took a lot of players who made big plays throughout the match. Penn State does a great job of exposing your weaknesses so you have to maximize your strengths.”
Arizona Takes Down UCLA
The Wildcats handed the No. 2 Bruins their third loss of the season in five sets (25-22, 10-25, 19-25, 25-18, 15-12) Saturday night at the McKale Center in Tucson. The win marks the first time since 1993 that Arizona has defeated a team ranked in the top two in the country. Freshman outside hitter Madison Kingdon led the Wildcats with 16 kills as senior outside hitter Courtney Karst posted 14 and senior middle hitter Cursty Jackson notched 13. For the Bruins, Rachael Kidder posted 26 kills. UCLA claimed every major statistical category in the match, including kills (63-59), hitting percentage (.256-.239), service aces (8-4), digs (69-62) and blocks (9.0-6.0). “They responded exactly how I would want my team to respond,” Arizona head coach David Rubio said. “UCLA didn’t come in here juiced and we are good enough to push a team like that. We played a lot better during the difficult moments, and that put us in a position to win.”
Wisconsin Upsets Michigan
Competing against its second ranked opponent in six days, the Badgers handed the 18th-ranked Wolverines a four set loss (25-18, 25-19, 18-25, 25-15) in Ann Arbor, Wisconsin’s first win over a team ranked that high since the 2009 season. Freshman outside hitter Ellen Chapman collected 12 kills on .323 hitting for the Badgers while sophomore outside hitter Dominique Thompson posted 11 kills on .412 hitting and freshman outside hitter Crystal Graff notched 10 kills. As a team, Wisconsin hit .259 while Michigan attacked at a .137 clip. Three Badgers also reached double-digit digs, led by freshman Courtney Thomas with 15. Graff and junior middle hitter Alexis Mitchell both contributed six blocks to the team’s 16.0 team block total. For Michigan, Alex Hunt led the squad with 15 kills. "That was fun," said Wisconsin head coach Pete Waite after the match. "We just came out very composed and we passed well. We didn't have to make a lot of subs because everyone was doing well out there."
Seton Hall Sweeps Cincinnati
The Pirates handed the Bearcats their first Big East loss of the season with a three-game sweep (25-19, 25-23, 25-23) in South Orange, N.J. Senior Meghan Matusiak led Seton Hall with 16 kills on .378 hitting as freshman outside hitter Stacey Manthorpe posted 12 kills. Junior setter Olivia Trudeau led the defense with 14 digs as both senior middle hitter Krissy Wrobel and junior middle hitter Morgan DeVries each collected five blocks to aid the squad in outblocking Cincinnati 12.0 to 8.5. Emily Hayden led Cincinnati with 11 kills on .471 hitting.
Loyola Marymount Outlasts UC Santa Barbara
LMU came out on top of an extended five-set match over UCSB (25-22, 20-25, 25-21, 18-25, 19-17) Friday night in Los Angeles. Four players from each team reached double-digit kill figures, as senior outside hitter Jasmine Rankins led LMU with 20 kills on .348 hitting (20-4-46). Freshman outside hitter Caitlin DeWitt chipped in 13 kills as both junior middle hitter Kenna Crouse and freshman middle hitter Litara Keil each notched 11 kills while hitting better than .300 for the match. Sophomore outside hitter Betsi Metter led all defenders with 34 digs, which ranked ninth all-time on LMU’s single-match dig list. Keil also led the Lions with six blocks. For UC Santa Barbara, Stacey Schmidt led the squad with 17 kills on .395 hitting. “Jasmine was huge, she was incredible in certain moments,” said LMU head coach Tom Black. “Big players rise up to the occasion and she definitely did that. It was a big win for our program. Santa Barbara has a long run of successful years and I’m really proud of our effort. A lot of people stepped up in different moments and we did a lot of good things as a team.”
UNLV Knocks Off TCU
The Rebels came out on top in four sets over TCU (25-20, 21-25, 25-17, 25-14) Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas. Sophomore outside hitter Makenzie Moea’i led UNLV with 15 kills as both freshman outside hitter Daryn Glenn and sophomore outside hitter Sekola Falemaka each notched 11 kills, with Glenn’s coming on .400 hitting (11-1-25). Falemaka also paced the defense with 18 kills as sophomore middle hitter Madeline Westman and sophomore setter Stephanie Thelen collected four blocks apiece. Five Rebel players collected at least one ace in the match as UNLV racked up seven aces while not allowing the Horned Frogs any. "This is probably one of our best overall performances from the team," said UNLV head coach Cindy Fredrick. "Our serving made a big difference. We were able to keep the ball away from their middles, which we wanted to do, and our serving helped us do that."