There’s no question Penn State stands out as one of the teams to beat in the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship this season, but the Nittany Lions are not the only Big Ten Conference members the rest of the field should be focusing on.
When the bracket was announced on Nov. 25, the Big Ten tied the Pac-12 Conference for teams selected with seven each. After the first weekend of action, the Big Ten still has six teams standing, while four Pac-12 teams advanced to the Round of 16.
It is no surprise No. 1 Penn State, No. 4 Nebraska and No. 8 Minnesota survived the first weekend of play, but Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan all upset seeded teams on their home courts to advance to the regional semifinals.
Purdue won a five-set thriller against No. 12 Florida State in Tallahassee as the Boilermakers secured their sixth regional appearance in the last eight seasons.
“It was one for the record books,” Purdue head coach Dave Shondell said. “You could see it in our kids’ eyes … that this was our tournament.”
The Boilermakers will be rewarded by playing regional action on their home court of Mackey Arena at the predetermined West Lafayette Regional. Purdue will meet Minnesota, while Penn State and Kentucky will tangle in the other semifinal contest.
Michigan notched its fourth consecutive win against a ranked opponent, topping No. 10 Louisville 3-1 to advance to the regional semifinals for the fifth time in school history.
But probably the most impressive Big Ten victory of the weekend was Michigan State’s 3-1 defeat of defending NCAA champion UCLA on Saturday. Lauren Wicinski knocked down 23 kills, while Kori Moster tallied 28 digs for the Spartans as they moved to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2007.
“Our team played with a lot of heart and we really got after it,” Michigan State head coach Cathy George said. “We played defense and had an answer for a lot of their powerful attacks. They have two great outside hitters and I think we contained them and played together. That’s what we needed to come away with a victory against the defending national champion at their home. It was important that we stuck together through thick and thin and answered the call.”
Michigan and Michigan State will meet in the regional semifinals, but the instate rivals will travel to the Berkeley Regional to meet at California’s Haas Pavilion. The two squads split two regular season meetings.
• Messiah College pulled off a double during the weekend as both the men’s and women’s soccer teams captured Division III championships on Saturday.
Senior Rachel Scheibeler tallied the game-winning goal in the Falcons’ 1-0 defeat of Emory as the women’s program collected their fifth title in school history. Earlier in the day, the men’s team exploded for a 5-1 victory against Ohio Northern as the Falcons’ won their ninth NCAA title in program history.
For women’s head coach Scott Frey the two victories were especially meaningful. Frey’s daughter Alicia and son Drew both play soccer for Messiah, and earned national titles on Saturday. It was the fourth time Messiah accomplished the dual championship. They also achieved the feat in 2005, 2008 and 2009.
“No words can really express how proud I am—it’s just awesome,” Frey said. “To have the pleasure of watching them at this stage of their lives … it’s just a wonderful time of life for me. I’m trying to not be too much of a coach while taking it in.”
• The Georgetown (19-3-2) men’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA Men’s College Cup for the first time in program history after downing San Diego 3-1 in quarterfinal action on Saturday. Freshman midfielder Melvin Snoh netted the game-winning goal — his first of the season, and the Hoyas set a program record for victories.
“This feeling is just awesome,” Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese said. “This postseason has been really interesting for this team since we were expected to get there, being the three seed, but we’ve never done it before. How you manage that dual mentality is really interesting and I’m so proud of them.”
Georgetown is the only first-timer in the group of semifinal squads. The three other remaining teams in the field — Maryland, Indiana and Creighton – have each advanced to the Men’s College Cup in their histories. Maryland has won three titles with the last coming in 2008 and Indiana has claimed seven championships with the last coming in 2004. Creighton will be making its’ fifth appearance, but has not won a title.
• A pair of teams from the Sunshine State took home the Division II soccer crowns on Saturday in Evans, Ga. West Florida edged UC San Diego 1-0 for the women’s title as the Argonauts won their first women’s soccer championship in school history. Chelsea Palmer netted the game-winning goals in both the final and the semifinal against Saint Rose, and collected the tournament’s Offensive Most Outstanding Player honors for her performance. She compiled 12 points in five NCAA postseason contests.
In the men’s bracket, Lynn claimed the program’s fourth national championship, one year after falling to Fort Lewis in the title game. The Knights defeated Saginaw Valley State 3-2 for their first trophy since the 2003 season.
• The UW-Oshkosh football team refused to lose on Saturday, scoring 15 unanswered points for a 31-24 overtime win versus Linfield in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals. Senior quarterback Nate Wara ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 24-24, and then threw a 21-yard TD pass in overtime to put the Titans on the scoreboard. UW-Oshkosh then stopped Linfield on their ensuing drive, recovering the Wildcats’ fumble on the 12-yard line to secure the win. The Titans also blocked two Linfield field goal attempts in the fourth quarter as they improved to 13-0 on the year.
• In a much-anticipated rematch of the 2012 National Dual Championship, the No. 3 Oklahoma State wrestling team upended No. 1 Minnesota 22-15 in a meeting of nationally-ranked foes on Sunday. After losses at 125 and 133 pounds, the Cowboys reeled off five consecutive victories, beginning with Julian Feikert’s pin of No. 9 Nick Dardanes in 52 seconds at 141 pounds. Second-ranked Jordan Oliver followed with a fall against Seth Lange at 149 pounds. It was the sixth time OSU has defeated a No. 1-ranked team under head coach John Smith.
“I was pleased with the outcome,” Smith said. “In some key matches, we picked up bonus points, and there were some good performances even in the losses. Overall, I felt like we came to wrestle. There were definitely a lot of guts.”
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
||Mount Union produced 753 yards of total offense en route to a 72-17 drubbing of Widener in the NCAA Division III football playoffs as the Purple Raiders advanced to the national semifinals for the 18th consecutive season. Mount Union held Widener to a season-low 17 points and minus-29 yards rushing in the contest. The Raiders will host Mary Hardin-Baylor in the semifinals on Dec. 8.|
|31||The No. 1 DePauw women’s basketball team ran its’ regular season winning streak to 31 games with a 61-39 victory against Denison in North Coast Athletic Conference play on Saturday. The Tigers are 6-0 for the first time in program history. DePauw has won 25 consecutive conference games, winning all 17 NCAC contests since joining the league as well as their final eight games as members of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in 2011.|
|32||West Texas A&M held Colorado State-Pueblo to 32 yards rushing as the sixth-seeded Buffs upended the No. 1 Thunderwolves 34-13 in the Division II football quarterfinals on Saturday. When the two teams met to open the season in August, CSUP ran for 265 yards in a 44-34 victory. Not only did the Buffs hold the Thunderwolves to their lowest rushing output of the season, but the defensive line also racked up seven sacks.|
|38||Creighton ended Connecticut’s 38-match home unbeaten streak (32-0-6) with a 1-0 victory against the Huskies on Sunday as the Bluejays advanced to the NCAA Men’s College Cup for the second consecutive year. It is UConn’s first loss since Nov. 7, 2009.|
|924||The No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey team downed No. 9 Boston U. 5-2 on Saturday giving Eagles’ head coach Jerry York his 924th career victory. York, who has compiled a 924-558-94 record in 41 seasons, is now tied with Ron Mason as the all-time wins leader in college hockey. York has coached at Clarkson, Bowling Green and Boston College during his career.|
|4,655||Old Dominion sophomore quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw for 497 yards and a FCS playoff record six touchdowns in the Monarchs’ 63-35 victory against Coastal Carolina on Saturday. Heinicke has passed for 4,655 yards through 12 games, and is approaching the FCS single-season passing mark of 4,863 set by Alcorn State’s Steve McNair in 1994.|
• The Wichita State women’s volleyball team upset No. 11 seeded Kansas 3-1 on Saturday to advance to the NCAA regional semifinals for the first time in school history. Ashley Andrade led the Shockers with 18 kills and nine blocks one night after she tallied a career-high 23 kills to lead WSU to a come-from-behind five-set victory against Arkansas. WSU will play USC in the Austin Regional on Friday.
• MIT — the top-ranked team in Division III men’s basketball — suffered its first defeat of the season, falling to Rhode Island 68-44 in non-conference action on Thursday. The Anchormen held the Engineers to their lowest scoring total since 2008, while junior guard Tom DeCiantis contributed a career-high 19 points in the win. RIC returned to action on Saturday, defeating Little East Conference foe Plymouth State 68-54 to move to 6-0 on the year.
• The No. 7 Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team handed previously unbeaten No. 1 Oswego State its first loss of the season on Saturday as the Cardinals downed the Lakers 2-1 in a SUNYAC contest. Mathieu Cadieux stopped 34 of 35 shots to help lift the Cardinals to victory.
• With a 2-0 defeat of No .10 Wisconsin on Sunday, the No. 1 Minnesota women’s hockey team stretched its winning streak to 26 games and earned its first weekend sweep of the Badgers since 2005. The Golden Gophers defeated the Badgers 4-1 on Saturday.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy