NCAA volleyball: West Virginia sets program Big 12 mark, 30 kills for Fitzgerald of Texas State


Tennessee’s Jasmine Brooks hits against the South Carolina block of Ellie Ruprich, left, and Mikayla Robinson/Kate Luffman, Tennessee Athletics

West Virginia won five Big 12 matches the past two seasons. For that matter, since the Mountaineers joined the conference in 2012, they’d never won more than six matches in a season, something they’d done twice.

Saturday, West Virginia not only swept Iowa State for the first time, but won its seventh Big 12 match of this 2020 NCAA Division I fall season.

Among the other happenings Saturday, Janell Fitzgerald had 30 kills and hit .434 as Texas State beat Arkansas State in five in the Sun Belt Conference, and South Carolina, Kentucky, and previously winless Alabama got SEC victories.

Sunday there are two more matches in the SEC as Alabama returns to Georgia and Kentucky is home again for Auburn. Both can be seen on the SEC Network.

BIG 12 — West Virginia (7-5) won 25-20, 25-22, 25-16 as Kristin Lux had 12 kills, Natali Petrova nine and Briana Lynch eight. Lux had an ace and a block, Petrova had two blocks and two digs, and Lynch hit .500 after having one error in 14 attacks to go with five blocks and a dig. West Virginia hit 214.

“We talk about finishing and making plays in every set,” West Virginia coach Reed Sunahara said. “We have to take care of the ball, and I thought we did a much better job of that than last night. I told the team before we started that we had to out dig them and score more points, and I thought we did both of those things tonight. We also minimized our hitting errors. We had 15 as opposed to 36 last night, so I thought that was a big difference in what we were doing.”

Since joining the conference, West Virginia entered this season 25-98 in Big 12 play.

That includes going 0-16 twice, while finishing 6-6 in 2014 and 6-10 in 2017. In 2018, the Mountaineers were 2-14 and last season went 3-13.

Iowa State (2-8) hit .090. Eleanor Holthaus led with nine kills and hit .304.

In the other Big 12 match Saturday, Kansas State (8-4) hit .360 as it swept Texas Tech (3-9) 25-16, 25-20, 25-13. Brynn Carlson led a balanced attack with 11 kills, hitting .429, and added a block and a dig. Shelby Martin had five kills in six errorless attacks, 28 assists, three aces, a block, and eight digs.

Samantha Sanders and Brooke Kanas had 10 kills each for Texas Tech, which hit .137.

SEC — Friday, Tennessee knocked off South Carolina in four. Saturday, the Gamecocks (4-2) bounced back by sweeping the home team 25-16, 25-23, 25-23 a Riley Whitesides led with 12 kills, an assist, six digs, and four blocks. Mikayla Robinson and Holly Eastridge had nine kills each. Eastridge had no errors in 14 swings, four digs, and two blocks.

“We still have some newcomers just getting used to how difficult it is to beat a good SEC team on the road, I think we have a little bit better appreciation of that after yesterday when we just didn’t come out and play the way we needed to,” South Carolina coach Tom Mendoza said.

“Yes, the result was better today but I was really excited to just see the way the team played, they’re a lot of fun to watch when we’re playing like that. I like our chances against anybody when we’re competing and working together as a group like that.”

Tennessee (2-4) got 18 kills from Lily Felts, who hit .444 and added four assists, 11 digs, and a block. Ava Bell had eight kills, hit .375, and had a dig and three blocks.

Alli Stumler had 18 kills as Kentucky (5-0) hit .385 and routed visiting Auburn (0-5) 25-14, 25-16, 25-15. Stumler, who hit .390 after having two errors in 41 attacks, had 10 digs and two blocks. Madi Skinner had nine kills and Madison Lilley had two kills, 48 assists, eight digs, and three blocks, one solo. Tatum Shipes and Lauren Dorrell had eight kills each for Auburn.

Abby Marjama had 17 kills Alabama (1-5) broke through with a 25-23, 25-19, 21-25, 25-23 victory at Georgia (2-3). Marjama had three digs and block. Alyiah Wells had 11 kills, hit .318, and had three digs, and five blocks, three solo. Kendyl Reaugh also had 11 kills and Riley Fisbeck had 45 assists, seven digs, and two blocks, one solo.

Amber Stivrins had 24 of Georgia’s 49 kills as she hit .396 to go with nine digs and two solo blocks. Rachel Ritchie had 10 kills, three digs, and two blocks, one solo.

SUN BELT — The line of the day went to Fitzgerald as Texas State (19-1 overall, 14-0 SBC) came back from being down 0-2 an won its 16th in a row, a 23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-5 win at Arkansas State (8-8, all in the SBC).

Fitzgerald had her 30 kills in 53 swings with seven errors as she hit .434 and had four digs and six blocks, five solo. Kennedi Rutherford and Tyeranee Scott had seven kills each and Emily DeWalt had a kills and 52 assists to go with 17 digs and a block.  Macey Putt had 16 kills for ASU and Josie Stanford had 11 kills and five blocks.

Texas-Arlington (9-5, 8-5) beat Louisiana-Lafayette (17-5, 11-4) 25-20, 18-25, 25-21, 25-21 as Briana Brown had 15 kills, Brianna Ford 13, and Brooke Townsend 12. Brown had five digs and three blocks, two solo. Alli Wells had 34 digs. Hali Wisnoskie and Kelsey Bennett had 15 kills apiece for the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Also in the SBC, Little Rock (4-13, 4-12) beat Louisiana-Monroe (1-20, 0-15) in four and Troy (10-4, 9-4) did the same to App State (1-11, 1-10). Laura Jansen had 16 kills, 16 digs, and two blocks for Little Rock.



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