Illinois tops Kentucky, crashes the round-of-16 party as Thursday’s NCAA Tournament regionals are set


Washington ‘s Claire Hoffman blasts the ball past the Hawai’i block of Skylar Williams, left, and Kate Lang as Tayli Ikenaga gets ready to dig/Stephen Burns photo

Illinois joined Kansas, which got in Friday, as the other unseeded team to crack the round of 16 as the Illini ousted seventh-seeded and defending NCAA champion Kentucky on Saturday.

There were 11 spots overall claimed Saturday into the NCAA Tournament regional round and while there were no other upsets, BYU and UCLA got all they could handle as they moved on.

The matchups on Thursday (Friday is an off day and the regional finals are Saturday):

AT LOUISVILLE
No. 1 Louisville (30-0) vs. No. 16 Florida (22-8)
No. 8 Georgia Tech (25-5) vs. No. 9 Ohio State (27-5)

AT TEXAS
No. 2. Texas (26-1) vs. No. 15 Washington (26-4)
No. 10 Nebraska (23-7) vs. Illinois (22-11)

AT PITTSBURGH
No. 3 Pittsburgh (28-3) vs. Kansas (18-11)
No. 6 Purdue (25-6) vs. No. 11 BYU (30-1)

AT WISCONSIN
No. 4 Wisconsin (27-3) vs. No. 13 UCLA (25-5)
No. 5 Baylor (22-5) vs. No. 12 Minnesota (22-8)

Go to our VolleyballMag.com TV and Streamings Listings for all the start times and viewing links.

Conferences breakdown

The Big Ten started with the most teams, eight, and has six remaining in Wisconsin, Purdue, Ohio State, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Illinois. That number has to shrink to at least five after Thursday since Nebraska and Illinois play each other. Nebraska swept both their matches this season.

The Big 12 started with seven teams and has three left, Texas, Baylor, and Kansas. 

The ACC started with six teams and has three remaining, Louisville, Pitt, and Georgia Tech.

The SEC started with six teams and has one left, Florida.

And the PAC-12 started with six teams and has two left, UCLA and Washington.

The only team left not in a Power 5 conference is BYU of the West Coast Conference, which started with three.

The only two seeds that didn’t make it out were No. 7 Kentucky, the defending national champion, and No. 14 Creighton. 

Saturday’s recaps

AT LOUISVILLE
Ball State (30-4) gave the other Cardinals all they could handle in the first set, but then Louisville cruised to a 29-27, 25-11, 25-19 victory. 

Louisville, in the round of 16 for the third season in a row, got 10 kills from Aiko Jones, who hit .389 and had two aces, three digs, and three blocks, one solo. Anna DeBeer had nine kills, hit .300, and had two aces, two solo blocks, and five digs. Anna Stevenson had seven kills, hit .385, and had an assist, three aces, two blocks, and a dig. Tori Dilfer had two kills, 35 assists, three blocks, and three digs. Her team hit .240.

Ball State, which won the Mid-American Conference and had two set points in the first set but couldn’t convert, hit .057. Seven different Cardinals had kills, seven by Marie Plitt, who had two digs and three blocks, one solo. Megan Wielonski had a kill, 26 assists, three aces, a block, and seven digs.

AT PITTSBURGH
The Panthers moved on with a 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 25-23 victory over the Big Ten’s Penn State (28-3) as coach Dan Fisher got his 300th victory. His program was 0-3 in previous NCAA tourney matches with Penn State.

The Panthers got a big boost from the return of Kayla Lund, who led with 21 kills, hit .421, and had three assists, two aces, four blocks, and 10 digs. Leketor Member-Meneh had 19 kills, a block, and 14 digs. Chinaza Ndee had nine kills and three blocks. Serena Gray, a transfer from Penn State, had five kills, three aces, two digs, and six blocks, two solo, including the match-ender. Setters Rachel Fairbanks and Lexis Akeo had 27 assists apiece and combined for 21 digs. Their team hit .253.

Penn State, which hit .195, got 12 kills from Jonni Parker, who had an ace, five blocks, and two digs. Erika Pritchard had 11 kills, hit .474, and had an ace, three digs, and three blocks, one solo. Kaitlyn Hord had nine kills and five blocks.

Penn State won’t be in the round of 16 for the first time since 2002.

AT WISCONSIN
Wisconsin hit .455 and blasted ASUN-champion FGCU (27-6) 25-17, 25-20, 25-15, winning in 75 minutes.

Wisconsin, in the round of 16 for the ninth year in a row, got 27 kills from its outside hitters. Grace Loberg led with 15 as she hit .542 and had an assist and three digs. Julia Orzol had 12 kills with one error in 18 attacks, an ace, three blocks, and nine digs. Anna Smrek had eight kills, hit .462, and had two blocks, and Dana Rettke had six kills, a block, and two digs. Sydney Hilley had a kill, 40 assists, an ace, a block, and six digs.

FGCU’s Erin Shomaker had 10 kills, an ace and a block. Skylar English added eight kills as she hit .412 after having one error in 17 attacks to go with an ace, three blocks, and eight digs.

AT KENTUCKY
Illinois and Raina Terry took it to Kentucky (25-5) from the start en route to its 25-22, 20-25, 25-10, 25-21 victory. The Illini, who hit .331, are back in the round of 16 for the 10th time in 14 years.

Terry led with 27 kills, hit .321, and had two blocks and eight digs. Megan Cooney had 17 kills, hit .302, and had an assist, two blocks, and five digs. Kennedy Collins had 10 kills, hit .381, and had two digs and two blocks, one solo. Diana Brown had two kills in as many tries, 52 assists, 16 digs, and two blocks, one solo. Taylor Kuper had 23 digs, nine assists, and three aces.

SEC-champion Kentucky, which hit .208. got 13 kills from Alli Stumler, who had an assist, a block, and seven digs. Madi Skinner had 11 kills, three blocks, and a dig. Reagan Rutherford had 10 kills, two blocks, and a dig. Emma Grome had 39 assists, an ace, and 21 digs.

AT GEORGIA TECH
The Yellow Jackets hit .353 in their 25-21, 25-18, 25-23 win over Western Kentucky (28-2) that put Georgia Tech back in the round of 16 for the first time since 2004.

Georgia Tech’s Julia Bergmann had 17 kills, hit .333, and had five blocks and four digs. Mariana Brambilla had 13 kills, four blocks, and eight digs. Erin Moss had six kills in 10 errorless attacks and four blocks, and Matti McKissock had three kills, 36 assists, an ace, a block, and 10 digs.

Conference USA-champion WKU, which had won 21 in a row, got 14 kills from Lauren Matthews, who hit .393 and had three blocks. Kayland Jackson, who had four blocks, and Paige Briggs had eight kills each. 

AT OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes ousted Tennessee (20-10) of the SEC 25-18, 14-25, 25-21, 25-21.

Gabby Gonzales led with 15 kills, an ace, a block, and seven digs. Emily Londot had 13 kills, an assist, six blocks, and eight digs. Rylee Rader had 10 kills, hit .3-4, and had two aces, two digs and three blocks, one solo. Arica Davis had two kills and eight blocks. Mac Podraza had two kills in four errorless tries, 43 assists, two blocks, and five digs. Her team hit .223.

Tennessee, which hit .250, got 16 kills from Breanna Runnels, who had an ace, five blocks, and seven digs. Morgahn Fingall had 13 kills, hit .333, and had six blocks and seven digs. Lily Felts had 11 kills, three assists, an ace, a block and four digs. Natalie Hayward had three kills, 36 assists, three blocks, and five digs.

AT NEBRASKA
The Huskers downed the ACC’s Florida State (20-10) to advance to the round of 16 for the 27th time in 28 years. Madi Kubik led with 12 kills in the 5-20, 25-22, 25-17 victory. She had an assist, three blocks, and 15 digs. Ally Batenhorst had 11 kills, hit .308, and had two blocks and two digs. Lauren Stivrins had 10 kills with one error in 21 attacks to hit .429 and had an assist, four blocks and two digs. Kayla Caffey had nine kills, hit .318, and had five blocks and a dig. Lexi Rodriguez had 18 digs and six assists, and Nicklin Hames had three kills in four errorless attempts, 39 assists, an ace, a block, and 12 digs.

Florida State hit .122. Audrey Koenig led with nine kills, an assist, a block, and two digs.

AT BYU
The Cougars got past the PAC-12’s Utah (22-9) 17-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 in a fierce battle that ended on a broken play. 

BYU’s Erin Livingston had 13 kills, a block and a dig. Taylen Ballard-Nixon had 12 kills, hit .333, and had three aces, two digs and two blocks, one solo. Kennedy Eschenberg had nine kills in 15 errorless attacks to hit .600 and had three blocks, one solo. Heather Gneiting had six kills, an ace two digs and seven blocks, one solo. Kenzie Koerber had six kills against her old team but hit .000 to go with an assist, an ace three blocks and nine digs. Whitney Bower had three kills in four errorless tries, 42 assists, four blocks and five digs. Her team hit .283

Dani Drews capped her spectacular career with 18 kills, two blocks and eight digs, but a miscue ended the match. She got set out of the back row but had to avoid setter Stef Jankiewicz and barely got to the ball and hit it out of bounds. Madelyn Robinson had 17 kills, a block, and six digs. Jankiewicz had four kills, 47 assists, an ace, a block and four digs. Her team hit .256.

AT MINNESOTA
Minnesota hit .339 and was too much for the PAC-12’s Stanford (19-11) 25-20, 25-18, 25-17 in a battle of teams that played in the 2019 national semifinals. 

Stephanie Samedy had 16 kills, a block, and five digs. Jenna Wenaas had 14 kills, hit .414, and had two assists, two blocks, and 16 digs. Airi Miayabe had 11 kills, hit .409, and had two assists, two blocks, and 12 digs. Melani Shaffmaster had two kills, 36 assists, two aces, and five digs.

Stanford, which missed last spring’s NCAA Tournament and lost to Minnesota earlier this season, hit .164. Kendall Kipp led with 15 kills, hit .303, and had an assist, two blocks, and six digs. Caitie Baird had 12 kills, an ace and six digs. Kami Miner had a kill in her only try, 31 assists, and seven digs.

UCLA’s Mac May tries to hit past UCFs McKenna Melville and Nerissa Moravec/Andy J. Gordon photo

AT UCLA
American Athletic-champion UCF (27-7) had a 13-8 lead in the fourth set. After that UCLA outscored the Knights 32-16 en route to a 25-27, 25-13, 19-25, 25-22, 15-7 victory.

Mac May had 25 kills, four in the first six points of the fifth set, and an assist, three aces, a block, and eight digs. Elan McCall had 17 kills, an assist, an ace, 20 digs, and three blocks, one solo. Iman Ndiaye had nine kills, two assists, 10 blocks and a dig. Anna Dodson had seven kills and six blocks, and Francesca Alupei had three kills and eight blocks.

Zoe Fleck had 29 digs, eight assists, and two aces. Shelby Martin had two kills, 49 assists, an ace, a block, and 13 digs. Her team hit .217.

UCF’s McKenna Melville led with 14 kills, but she hit .000. She had an assist, an ace, 14 digs, and six blocks, one solo. Heidi Bonde had 12 kills, three digs and two blocks, one solo. Claudia Dillon had 11 kills, an ace, two digs and six blocks. Amber Olson had three kills in eight errorless tries, 44 assists, an ace, four blocks, and nine digs.

AT WASHINGTON
The Huskies hit .365 and crushed Big West-champion Hawai’i (22-8) 25-16, 25-14, 25-13 to make it to the round of 16 for the ninth time in 10 years. Last spring Washington advanced to the national semifinals.

Claire Hoffman had 20 kills and hit .366 to go with an assist, two aces, a block, and two digs. Samantha Drechsel had 11 kills with one error in 24 attacks to hit .417. She had two aces, four blocks, and four digs. Ella May Powell had four kills in six errorless tries, 33 assists, an ace, and 11 digs.

Hawai’i hit .123. Amber Igiede led with eight kills as she hit .467 after having one error in 15 attacks. She had two digs and four blocks, one solo. Her teammates combined for 16 kills.

NIVC

There were six more matches including four sweeps as North Florida beat Troy, Boston College beat Delaware State, UConn beat North Carolina A&T, and Arkansas beat Stephen F. Austin. Weber State beat Portland State in four behind 20 kills by Dani Nay, who hit .474 and had four aces and 12 digs. 

And UNLV beat Arizona in five despite 23 kills by Jaelyn Hodge. Mariena Hayden had 17 kills for UNLV, an ace, eight digs, and two blocks.

Click here for the NIVC website as the action continues Sunday with UConn playing at Boston College.

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Washington’s Emma Calle goes all out against Hawai’i/Stephen Burns photo



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