Wisconsin-Nebraska Highlights Friday’s Action; UNLV upset in MWC; Houston plays UCF

Every NCAA Division I volleyball conference is decided on Friday or Saturday, two days that promise plenty of drama as four conference tournaments are played and the regular season comes to a close.

All eyes will be on the Big Ten as Wisconsin (23-3, 17-1) and Nebraska (24-3, 16-2) Fight for the conference title and a top-four spot as Ohio State (19-7, 15-3) hopes to stay in the mix.

Third-ranked Wisconsin, which has won 16 straight games, goes to No. 5 Nebraska and No. 8 Ohio, which has suffered back-to-back losses to unranked Maryland and Indiana, is home to the No. 9 in Minnesota. Wisconsin won the first game against Nebraska 25-23, 25-23, 25-18, and Ohio State swept Minnesota on October 12.

No. 19 Purdue is at No. 11 Penn State in a big seeding match for both teams, Maryland at Indiana, Rutgers at Michigan and Illinois at Northwestern.

The drama continues Saturday when Wisconsin goes to Ohio State and Minnesota goes to Nebraska.

Sarah Franklin of Wisconsin, who scored against Kaitlyn Hord of Nebraska (left) and Whitney Lauenstein on Oct. 26, led the Badgers with 21 kills in that match/Tom Lynn, Wisconsin Athletic Communications

The Mountain West became a two-bid league when runaway regular-season league leaders UNLV were upset in Utah State’s MWC Championship. That means the Rebels will receive a general bid and Friday’s tournament winner, either second-seeded San Jose state or fourth-seeded Utah state, will be the conference’s automatic bid.

In the American Athletic Conference. No. 22 Houston (28-2, 19-0) plays at No. 23 UCF (26-1, 18-1). Houston has 20 straight wins since losing four times in Texas and beat UCF four times at home on Oct. 7. Since then, UCF has won 14 consecutive times. Both teams will enter, but the winner will be in the hunt for a top 16 seed.

Hawaii has a two-game lead over UC Santa Barbara and can secure the Big West title and its automatic bid if the Rainbow Wahine play UCSB. If UCSB wins, the race will be decided on Saturday when Hawaii goes to CSUN.

Stanford clinched the Pac-12 title, but the stakes are high in every game on Friday. The sixth-ranked Cardinal is home to Cal while No. 10 Oregon is looking to cement its top-16 position against a visit to Oregon State. This will be the last game for outgoing coach Mark Barnard. Visiting No. 24 Washington and No. 25 Washington State is playing for seeding, as does USC when entertaining UCLA. And Colorado is risking its high hopes for a visit to Utah.

Five of the six SEC games have NCAA implications, most notably for Arkansas at Auburn and Georgia at LSU. No. 12 Florida plays at Ole Miss and No. 16 Kentucky is home to South Carolina as both hope for top-16 seeds, and Tennessee is at Alabama. Missouri is located in the state of Mississippi.

There is a Big 12 match on Friday when Kansas plays Texas Tech.

In the Big Sky semifinals, top-ranked Northern Colorado meets fourth-ranked Sacramento State, and second-ranked Portland State meets sixth-ranked Montana State.

In the Big East semifinals, top-ranked and 14th-ranked Marquette meets fifth-ranked UConn, and second-ranked and 15th-ranked Creigton meets third-ranked Xavier.

In the Summit League semifinals, South Dakota meets fourth-placed Denver and second-placed Omah meets third-placed North Dakota. Denver advanced with a five-set win in which Hailey Green had 32 kills.

In the ACC, Notre Dame goes to Virginia Tech and Clemson plays at Wake Forest. Clemson, VT and Notre Dame are tied with Virginia for last place at 4-13.

MOUNTAIN WEST: State of Utah (21-10) don’t just get excited UNLV (26-4) are the Aggies in the championship game after defeating the Rebels and breaking their 17-match winning streak.

Utah State hit .305 in a 25-18, 25-23, 25-21 win. Shelby Capllonch led by 13 kills when she hit .423 and had an assist, an ace and five digs. Adna Mehmedovic had 11 kills, hit .389 and had three blocks and two digs. Defending champion UNLV, sure to receive an NCAA bid at large, received 13 kills from Isabel Martin, who had one assist, five ditch and three blocks, one solo…

State of San Jose (21-8) advanced to the NWC Finals for the first time in program history with a 25-17, 17-25, 25-19, 27-25 win State of San Diego (11-20). The last time San Jose State played a conference championship game was in 2003, when it lost to Hawaii in the WAC.

Haylee Nelson led the Spartans with 11 kills as she hit .318 and had three digs. Blaire Fleming had 10 kills, hitting .348 and adding an assist, three blocks and three digs. SDSU’s Kayla Rivera had 12 kills and hit .417 to go with an ace, two blocks and two digs.

San Jose State won the first meeting with Utah State in four, but then Utah Valley won at home in five on Nov. 10 in a fifth set that went to 22-20.

SUMMIT LEAGUE: Denver (19-11) won a wild 30-32, 25-22, 24-26, 25-22, 15-12 over the fifth seed State of South Dakota (17-14). Hailey Green had a school record and 32 kills to tie the tournament record. She had nine errors in 72 attacks to hit .319. She added six excavations and two blocks, one solo. Memphis Glasgow had 22 kills, two aces, a block and 14 digs. Gianna Bartolo had a program record of 40 digs, nine assists and two aces. Emma Ziegler had two kills, 68 assists, two aces, two blocks, and 12 digs. SDSU’s Crystal Burk had 25 kills, two assists, a solo block and 11 digs. Ella Thompson had 11 kills, hit .429 and had four blocks, one solo. Masa Scheierman had 11 kills, five digs, and three solo blocks. Jadyn Makovicka had 28 digs, three assists and an ace…

State of North Dakota (21-10) swept North Dakota (12-18) and only needed 39 kills to do so. Ali Hinze led with 10, three blocks and six digs. Kelley Johnson had two kills in five clean tries, 27 assists, three aces, a block and eight digs. North Dakota’s Elizabeth Norris had 12 kills, hit .391 and had 17 assists and eight digs.

USC UPSTATE TRAINERS: South Carolina Upstate has fired coach Rhona Shirleyl. In four seasons, their teams in the Big South went 35-65, 24-36. The Spartans finished this season 6-23, 3-13.

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