San Diego rolls on; Bowling Green NCAA-bound; UNI plays Drake for MVC title

Second-ranked San Diego continued its West Coast Conference dominance by winning in four Tuesday at No. 18 BYU and bolstering its case for a top NCAA Tournament seed as the Toreros won their 24th in a row.

Bowling Green battled past Ball State in five to win the MAC Championship and the automatic bid that goes with it. 

On Wednesday, top-seeded Northern Iowa plays second-seeded Drake for the Missouri Valley title and that conference’s bid.

The Big East Championship begins with two play-in matches — Xavier vs. Butler and St. John’s vs. UConn — as host No. 15 Creighton and No. 14 Marquette await for Friday’s semifinals. The championship match is Saturday.

The Big Sky Championship begins at Weber State with four matches. The teams take Thanksgiving off before semifinals Friday and the championship on Saturday. 

In the American Athletic Conference, No. 22 Houston (27-2, 18-0) goes for its 20th win in a row  when the Cougars go to South Florida. No. 23 UCF (25-1, 17-1) goes for its 14th in a row wnen Tulane visits. Houston plays at UCF on Friday.

There are five ACC matches, including No. 4 Louisville at Notre Dame and a key battle when No. 13 Georgia Tech goes to No. 7 Pittsburgh. Also in the ACC, Florida State is at Miami in a match between two teams that will get NCAA bids, Duke is at North Carolina and Virginia is at NC State.

The Pac-12 slate shows No. 6 Stanford ready to clinch the title when Oregon State visits Palo Alto. The Cardinal leads No. 10 Oregon by two games. Oregon plays at Cal. No. 24 Washington is home for USC in a match between two NCAA-bound teams, and two visitors try to keep their NCAA hopes alive when Colorado is at Arizona and Utah is at Arizona State. 

Two SEC teams with NCAA bids likely secured are in action when Auburn goes to South Carolina and Tennessee is at Alabama.

The leaders are off but there are five Big Ten matches. No. 11 Penn State is at Northwestern, No. 19 Purdue is at Maryland, Illinois goes to Indiana, Michigan is at Iowa and Rutgers is at Michigan State.

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WCC: San Diego (27-1, 18-0), which had already won the league title, ended the regular season with a 21-15, 25-19, 25-22, 25-22 victory at BYU (21-6, 14-3). 

Breana Edwards led with 18 kills, hit .484 after having three errors in 31 attacks, and had a block. Grace Frohling had 13 kills, an ace, six digs and five blocks, one solo. Leyla Blackwell had 12 kills, hit .320 and had seven blocks, one solo.. Gabby Blossom had 50 assists, an ace, a block and 13 digs. Her team hit .243. Annie Benbow had 20 digs, four assists and an ace.

San Diego also went unbeaten in the WCC in 2004. 

San Diego’s Katie Lukes hits against the BYU block of Heather Gneiting, left, and Kate Prior /BYU photo

BYU got 13 kills apiece from Heather Gneiting and Erin Livingston and 12 from Whitney Llarenas. Gneiting hit .357 and had an assist, an ace, three blocks and four digs. Whitney Bower returned from an injury and the setter had three kills, 44 assists, an ace, a block and nine digs. Her team hit .205 …

Pepperdine (10-10, 10-8) has an RPI of 43 and did nothing to hurt its at-large chances with a sweep of visiting Portland (10-19, 3-15). Emily Hellmuth had 12 kills and Grace Chillingsworth 11 as she hit .346 and had two assists, an ace, three blocks and nine digs … Loyola Marymount (18-9, 13-5, 40 RPI) hit .333 and beat visiting Gonzaga (6-23, 2-16) in four. Rose Booth had 21 kills, hit .529 after having three errors in 34 attacks, and added three aces, three blocks and eight digs. Kari Geissberger had 19 kills with three errors in 34 swings to hit .471 an had two blocks … In season-enders, Santa Clara (12-18, 8-10) got 23 kills from Julia Sangiacomo and won in four at Saint Mary’s (9-17, 6-12) and Pacific (16-13, 8-10) swept at San Francisco (14-15, 7-11). 

Bowling Green win the 2022 MAC title/Mallory Hiser, BGSU Athletics

Mid-American: Bowling Green (22-9) won 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 15-9 in a match worthy of the postseason at Ball State (24-8). 

Bowling Green, which hit .201, got a career-high 22 kills from Lauryn Hovey and it was the first time all season a Falcon had 20 more kills. She added 16 assists, an ace, seven blocks and 11 digs. Petra Indrova had 14 kills, an assist, four aces, a block and 15 digs. Mia Tyler had 12 kills, three blocks and two digs. Kat Mandly had 11 kills, three blocks and two digs, and Jessica Andrews had six kills and seven blocks. Bowling Green had a 15-8 blocks advantage, which included eight by Alexis Mettille. Yelianiz Torres had 33 digs, six assists and an ace.

Ball State, which hit .123, got 16 kills from Cait Snyder, who had four blocks and a dig. Marie Plitt had 14 kills with one error in 33 attakcs, a dig and three blocks. Maggie Huber had 35 digs, two assists and an ace. Megan Wielonski had a kill, 47 assists, an ace, two blocks and 15 digs.

Last year in the MAC final Ball State won in five and in their only meeting this season, Ball State swept. Bowling Green has been to the NCAA Tournament three times before, in 1991, 2012 and 2020. Ball State (56 RPI) holds out slim hopes for an at-large bid.

MISSOURI VALLEY: Top-seeded Northern Iowa (25-7) plays second-seeded Drake (26-6), which has won 12 in a row, for the title. UNI and Drake spilit four-set matches this season. UNI won at home on October 11, and Drake won at home to end the regular season a week ago.

UNI hit .385 and advanced with a 25-19, 32-30, 25-21 sweep of host fifth-seeded Evansville (16-19). The Panthers had 11 kills and 11 errors in 96 swings. Olivia Tjernagel had 13 kills with two errors in 16 attacks to hit .688 and added three blocks and four digs. Emily Holterhaus had 12 kills with one error in 23 attacks to hit .478 and had two digs. Evansville’s Giulia Cardona had 19 kills, three assists, two aces, a block and four digs … 

Drake swept third-seeded UIC (22-10) as Haley Bush haad 16 kills and hit .452 in the 25-18, 25-21, 25-21 victory. Bush had two errors in 31 attacks, two aces, two blocks and four digs. UIC’s Martina Delucchi had 17 kills.

If Drake (68 RPI) wins, UNI (48 RPI) could still get an at-large bid.

WYOMING: Kaylee Prigge, the associate head coach who has been at Wyoming for four years, has been promoted to head coach. The opening was created when Chad Callihan announced two weeks ago that he would step down after 10 seasons. The Cowgirls lost their last seven matches and finished 10-20 this season, 6-12 in the Mountain West Conference. 

ALASKA-ANCHORAGE: University of Alaska Anchorage coach Chris Green announced his resignation and ssociate head coach Stacie Meisner has been named interim coach.

Green had a 313-116 (.731) record over 15 seasons, that included 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in the last 13 full seasons. The Seawolves made only two NCAA tournament appearances in the 28 seasons before his arrival.

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