NCAA men’s volleyball, after overcoming so many early season COVID-related delays, has its first really full schedule Friday with 20 matches on tap.
That includes a battle of two 4-0 teams when Penn State of the EIVA, ranked No. 3 in the AVCA coaches top-15 poll, plays at No. 12 USC of the MPSF and No. 11 Ohio State (3-0) of the MIVA goes to No. 2 UCLA (1-0) of the MPSF.
Both the MIVA Chicago teams are home when No. 7 Lewis (3-0) plays host to No. 5 Long Beach State (1-0) of the Big West and No. 9 Loyola (2-2) entertains Belmont Abbey (3-0) of Conference Carolinas.
Also Friday, No. 13 UC Irvine (3-1) of the Big West plays No. 10 BYU (0-2) of the MPSF, No. 6 Grand Canyon (2-2) of the MPSF plays No. 8 UC San Diego (2-0) of the Big West, and UC Santa Barbara (1-3) of the Big West plays No. 4 Pepperdine (3-0) of the MPSF.
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In NCAA Division I women’s volleyball this week, Siena hired Simone Asque as its head coach, while Santiago Restropo resigned at Arkansas State and Allison Yeager left Seton Hall to take the job at Binghamton.
We start with a conference-by-conference men’s update.
BIG WEST — While top-ranked and defending national-champion Hawai’i is 4-0, CSUN has yet to play a match. Hawai’i, coming off back-to-back sweeps of visiting Edward Waters, had this week off and plays an alumni match Friday night. Then the Rainbow Warriors make a trip to the mainland to play at Ball State on January 29 and 31 before heading to Austin, Texas, to play Kentucky State, Queens, and Stanford. Hawai’i has basically taken batting practice against opponents, hitting .459 this season. Four players have 20 or more kills, 28 by Chaz Galloway and 27 by Dimitrious Mouchlias. Guilherme Voss had 23 kills with one error in 31 attacks to hit .710, and Spyros Chakas has 20 kills and is hitting .412 …
Long Beach State goes to Lewis and Loyola this weekend. The Beach is also hitting .459 after opening its season with victories over Harvard and Erskine. Clarke Godbold has 23 kills and is hitting .559 …
At least UCSD can play when Grand Canyon visits, but no fans are allowed … UCI plays twice at BYU. The Anteaters lead the league with 12.67 kills per set … UCSB goes to Pepperdine, where a victory would go a long way toward getting the Gauchos back into the top 15. They hare coming a four-set loss to Princeton this past Wednesday in which they hit .163 … CSUN has had all of its scheduled matches canceled. The Matadors hope to open their season January 27 at UCLA.
CONFERENCE CAROLINAS — To its credit, Erskine has played an ambitious schedule, but the Fleet, who have played the most matches of any team in the league, is 0-6. They have lost to Pepperdine twice, USC, and Long Beach, and also to Lancaster Bible College and Limestone … Belmont Abbey is 3-0 after sweeping Long Island twice and then Carolina. The Crusaders will have a good barometer of where they stand after playing at Loyola and Lewis this weekend … Mount Olive is 2-0. Its matches two weeks ago against Pepperdine were canceled when the Wave couldn’t make the trip, but the Trojans then knocked off visiting George Mason in five and beat Queens in four. Tobi Azeez has made everyone take notice after getting 37 kills while hitting .311 … King plays twice Saturday, against Fairleigh Dickinson and host Harvard. Erskine will try to break through against first-year program Edward Waters.
EIVA — Penn State, off to a great start, plays at USC on Friday and UCLA on Saturday. The Nittany Lions, No. 3 in the AVCA Poll, are ranked their highest in 13 years. Senior middle was last week’s AVCA national player of the week. The Nittany Lions are hitting .404 and averaging 12.8 kills per set … It’s been an up-and-down start for George Mason, one of the three teams that annually challenges for the league title. The Patriots swept Barton, but then lost in five to Mount Olive before winning in five at Purdue Fort Wayne on Thursday. Jack Bolz led with 21 kills, three aces, seven blocks, and five digs. Omar Hoyos had 15 kills, hit .387, and added an assist and 13 digs … The other team in that top tier, Princeton, is 1-3 after getting swept three times on its SoCal swing, to USC, UCLA, and Pepperdine, before the Tigers won in four at UCSB on Wednesday. Princeton hit .313, led by Ben Harrington’s 14 kills. He hit .346 and had two aces, three blocks, and two digs. Nate Thompson had 11 kills with one error in 18 attacks, three aces, two digs, and four blocks, two solo. Henry Wedbush had two kills in as many tries, 33 assists, three adces, a block, and nine digs.
MIVA — This is a big weekend for the conference with the Chicago schools both getting a visit from Long Beach State, Ohio State making the L.A. trip, and Ball State playing George Mason.
Lewis saw its first three matches canceled and then swept Maryville, beat NJIT in four, and swept Saint Francis. The Flyers are hitting .412and have gotten 35 kills from Tyler Mitchem and 27 from Cole Brillhart …
Loyola lost twice at Hawai’i to start the season, but last weekend swept Saint Francis and then beat NJIT in four. Parker Van Buren has 51 kills, second in the conference, and Colton Brooks 36 …
Ohio State opened with back-to-back sweeps of new program Central State and then swept the EIVA’s St. Francis so the UCLA match is really the Buckeyes’ first big test of the season. Jacob Pasteuer has 31 kills and is hitting .357 …
Ball State beat up on Maryville and Tusculum last week and is hitting .464 after those matches. Bryce Behrendt leds with 19 kills after having three errors in 29 attacks.
Purdue Fort Wayne’s John Diedrich leads the league with 67 kills and Bryce Walker had 36.
MPSF — Pepperdine’s first four matches were canceled before the Waves swept Erskine twice and then swept Princeton this past Monday. Pepperdine peppered Princeton with 45 kills and just eight errors in 75 swings to hit .493. As a team, the Waves are hitting .490 after three matches, and five players have 10 or more kills, 21 by Austin Wilmot and 20 by Jaylen Jasper …
USC finished 5-14 in 202, 1-6 in the MPSF, and last spring was 5-13, 5-12 in the conference. So the Trojans have to be thrilled to be 4-0 at this point. They have beaten UCSB twice, and then swept Princeton and Erskine and now play Penn State and Ohio State at UCLA on Friday and Saturday. Five USC players have 21 or more kills, 51 by Simon Gallas, who also leads with seven aces. Sam Kobrine has 40 kills, Brandon Browning and Liam Schroeder 26 each, and Lucas Frassrand has 21. Schroeder is hitting .575 and leads with 13 blocks, three solo, and Frassrand is hitting .514.
We featured Stanford here on Thursday, a team that is off to a 3-2 start. The Cardinal opened with a couple of sweeps of the MIVA’s Lindenwood, split with UC Irvine, but then lost at UCSD last Saturday. This weekend Stanford plays lower-division teams in Vanguard and UC Santa Cruz.
BYU got swept twice at Penn State to open the season but hasn’t played in two weeks. The Cougars play host to UC Irvine on Friday and Saturday. BYU finished 20-4 last season after falling to Hawai’i in the national-championship match … Grand Canyon is 2-2 after beating McKendree twice and losing twice to Penn State. Camden Gianni leads with 53 kills, while Hugo Fisher has 45. Christian Janke has 21 kills with two errors in 34 attacks … Concordi’s first three matches were canceled but then the Eagles beat two saints, Saint Xavier and Saint Katherine.
SIAC — According to the league master schedule, none of the first-time programs have won a match. There have also been quite a few cancelations. Most recently, Kentucky State was swept at Georgetown (Kentucky) on Wednesday in the season opener for both teams.
WOMEN’S COACHING CAROUSEL — Siena hired Simone Asque as its head coach. She played at Virginia, then professionally, and has coached at UIC, NJIT, Coastal Carolina, and the past four seasons at Seton Hall. Siena finished 7-23 last season under Vilis Ozols, who was fired in December, 7-11 in the MAAC …
Santiago Restrepo resigned after three seasons at Arkansas State, which finished 15-14 last season, 6-10 in the Sun Belt … Allison Yeager quit after 10 years as the head coach at Seton Hall, where her Pirates finished 14-18 last season, 6-12 in the Big East. She then took over at Binghamton, where she was an assistant in 2005-06. Binghamton finished 7-17 last season, 3-9 in the America East. She replaces Glenn Kiriyama, who resigned after 23 seasons …
New Notre Dame coach Salima Rockwell added Craig Dyer to her staff. They coached together at Penn State. He was at Creighton the past four years … Minnesota promoted Jenni Houk to assistant coach. She had been the video/tech coordinator. Her husband, Matt, is the associate head coach.
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