In a big night of college volleyball upsets, Nebraska, Arizona and South Carolina all pulled out key five-set victories against ranked teams. For Nebraska, the victory marks its second conference win in the last six games, and for Arizona and South Carolina, the Top 25 wins help build momentum for conference games coming this weekend.
Here is what you need to know from each match:
No. 8 Nebraska beat No. 7 Penn State 3-2
These two Big 10 teams battled each other into five sets for the third consecutive meeting; Friday's game, however, was particularly meaningful for Nebraska. Heading into the game, the Cornhuskers had only earned one conference win in the last five games, but the victory against Penn State marks a turnaround for the No. 8 team. And they did it in strong fashion.
The Huskers won the second, fourth and fifth sets by a combined 20 points. Nebraska also notched a team total of 20 blocks, the most the team has earned since 2006, and 104 digs, the most the Huskers have tallied since 2004. Leading Nebraska was Mikaela Foecke, who accumulated 15 kills, 29 digs and six blocks, and Lexi Sun, who had 14 digs and 16 kills. Lauren Stivrins also recorded a double-double with 13 kills and a career-high 10 blocks. Nebraska continues with another Big 10 opponent this weekend when they take on Rutgers Saturday afternoon.
Arizona beats No. 18 Washington State 3-2
Earlier this season, Arizona dropped another five-set thriller to Washington State, 3-2. Last night, though, the Wildcats reversed the outcome. They stopped the Cougars behind efforts from sophomores Katie Smoot and Candice Denny who each set career highs with 22 and 14 kills respectively. Paige Whipple also hit 20 kills.
This is the second time Arizona has taken down a Top 25 team this year and helps put them in position to compete for a spot in the NCAA tournament. The win will also be a confidence booster for the Wildcats as they managed to earn the “W” even without a fully healthy roster. Two starters for Arizona sat out the game with injuries, and head coach Dave Rubio praised his team for staying focused without their original roster, calling the win “gutsy.” Arizona will play again on Sunday when they take on the Washington Huskies.
South Carolina beats No. 20 Missouri at 3-2
For only the second time in the last 12 years, South Carolina took down a Top 25 team when it edged out No. 20 Missouri, 3-2. The win ended Missouri’s eight-game winning streak, snapped the two-game skid that had plagued the Gamecocks and keeps South Carolina just above .500 in the SEC. Leading South Carolina was sophomore Mikayla Robinson, who completed a .478 hitting percentage, the team’s highest individual rate within conference games. She also now leads all sophomores in the SEC for kills in a game after scoring 12 against Missouri. Mikayla Shields also scored 19 kills, the most any South Carolina player has scored this season. South Carolina continues with league play when they take on Auburn on Sunday