Friday, November 25, 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Round-Up (2011)

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Here are a few tidbits from Tuesday and Wednesday nights' action to get caught up on recent developments.

No sooner did I write an entry about how well Oregon was doing than the Ducks got swept Tuesday night by Oregon State. The teams have a rematch tonight in Eugene.

A few weeks ago, the college-volleyball world marveled at the 34-32 game played by Penn State and Wisconsin. Wednesday night, Oklahoma took a 35-33 set over Texas Tech to close out a three-game sweep.

In another Wednesday match featuring overtime games, Tennessee held off Kentucky in Knoxville, 28-30, 25-20, 30-28, 25-18, to win the SEC title. The potent Lady Volunteer offense did not disappoint, racking up a .291 overall team hitting percentage (box score). Leading contributors were DeeDee Harrison, .444 (15 kills, 3 errors, 27 attempts); Shealyn Kolosky, .421 (8-0-19); and Leslie Cikra, .370 (14-4-27).  The Wildcats were led by Whitney Billings .367 (14-3-30); and Becky Pavan, .353 (13-1-34). The latter is the sister of former Nebraska great Sarah Pavan.

One additional Wednesday match I wanted to mention, as a Michigan alumnus, is the Wolverines' four-game win over Michigan State. UM's left-handed slugger Alex Hunt (shown in this video from last year) had her best conference hitting night of the season, registering a .361 percentage. Her previous bests had been .353 at Nebraska and .308 at home vs. Minnesota. She has missed (or had her action greatly limited in) five Big 10 matches due to injury, and in her remaining matches has had a lot of lackluster hitting percentages (e.g., -.021 at Northwestern, .000 at Purdue, .083 at Illinois, and .120 at home vs. Indiana).

I try to follow as many UM matches as possible via Internet video or audio broadcasts and I've heard a couple of schools' announcers make the point that Hunt hits the ball as hard as anyone, yet she is inconsistent in her hitting percentages. If she can continue the hot hitting she exhibited vs. MSU, then the Wolverines' journey in the NCAA tournament might be termed the "Hunt for Blue December." Michigan hosts Ohio State tonight to conclude the regular season.

Finally, national No. 4 UCLA hosts No. 1 USC tonight. The Trojans (19-2 in conference) have already wrapped up the Pac 12 championship, ahead of the second-place Bruins (17-4). However, UCLA routed USC in the teams' first match-up. The Trojans will be out for revenge, but perhaps there's something about the Bruins that matches them up well against 'SC.

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