Thursday, December 9, 2021

Live-Blogging NCAA Women's Sweet Sixteen Thursday (December 2021)

It's wall-to-wall NCAA women's volleyball today on ESPN-U and ESPN+ (a subscription service), with an 11:00 am Central start to Sweet Sixteen matches... In the following paragraphs, I offer my thoughts on several of the matches (most recent on top)...

No. 10 seed Nebraska, which swept unseeded Illinois twice this season during B1G play, leads the Illini 19-12 in Game 1... Huskers take it 25-12... Game 2 also to Nebraska, 25-21... The Huskers close out the match 25-17 for their third sweep of Illinois this season. The Huskers' hitting percentages across the three games were nothing, if not consistent: .250, .263, .263.

Upset in the making? No. 15 Washington finishes off No. 2 Texas 25-19 in Game 1... Huskies keeping it up, leading 17-13 in Game 2... Now 20-16... Huskies two points away in Game 2, 23-19... And UW closes out Game 2, 25-20... Washington's hitting percentages in the first two games are torrid: .387 and .414. Only 2 hitting errors for the Huskies in Game 2 along with 14 kills (on 29 attempts). Horns hit a strong .364 in Game 2, but to no avail... U-Dub outblocking Texas 5-3 on the evening (as of early Game 3)... I go do something else for a bit and now the match has totally turned around... Texas leads 10-7 in Game 5, having won Games 3 and 4 by scores of 25-22 and 25-9... Now 12-8 Longhorns in the fifth... 13-8... 14-8... Texas takes Game 5 by a score of 15-9 for the "reverse sweep." After hitting so well in the first two games, the Huskies' percentages in the final three games fell to .154, -.036, and .083... Texas hit .314 in Game 3, then went wild in Games 4 (.500, 13-1-24) and 5 (.500, 6-1-10). To repeat: Texas makes just one hitting error in each of the last two games!

No. 13 UCLA trying to hang on at No. 4 Wisconsin, trailing two games to none and 18-14 in Game 3...  Badgers finish it off 25-17, setting up an all-B1G regional final vs. Minnesota...

One of today's winning teams recorded the hitting percentages over five games shown above. Who is it? Scroll down for answer...
It's Minnesota, which lifted its hitting percentage from the low-mid .100s in the first four games to .318 in the fifth. The No. 12 Gophers dug themselves into a bit of a hole, trailing No. 5 Baylor two games to one. But Minnesota prevailed 25-23 in Game 4 and 15-10 in the decider (link).

We've had three sweeps so far today. No. 1 Louisville over No. 16 Florida (link), No. 3 Pitt over unseeded Kansas (link), and No. 8 Georgia Tech over No. 9 Ohio State (link).

It's a tale of two cities (make that games) in the match-up of No. 6-seed Purdue and No. 11 BYU (live box score). The Boilermakers took the first game 25-12 (outhitting the Cougars .379 to -.179), but BYU has turned it on in Game 2. Trailing 5-8, BYU ran off 10 straight points to open up a 15-8 lead. A streak like that has to be very rare in NCAA tournament matches. During this run, the Cougars' strategic short serving was preventing Purdue from even getting many decent swings. BYU, on the other hand, got a lot of good attack attempts and made good on them... BYU wraps up Game 2, 25-16, outhitting Purdue .303 to .171... Early Game-3 edge to BYU, 6-3... The Cougars have led Game 3 most of the way, but things are getting a little closer at 22-20, BYU. Now 23-21... Kill to make it 24-21 Cougars... and game, 25-21. Without some nice digs, Purdue would have lost the game even more decisively... Game-3 hitting percentages: BYU .406 (14 kills and only 1 hitting error on 32 attempts), Purdue .172... Boilers bouncing back, however, off to 4-0 lead in Game 4. Purdue lead up to 6-0 before BYU gets first point... 19-9 Purdue, looks like we're heading for a fifth game... Indeed we are, Purdue wins 25-13 (outhitting BYU .379 to .062)... Cougars out to 3-1 lead in Game 5... Now 4-1... 5-1... Returning from time-out, Purdue with quick three points to close within 5-4... Big BYU block to up lead to 6-4... 7-4 after BYU ace... 7-5... 7-6... 7-7, as Cougars showing some serve-receipt difficulties... T/O BYU... Cougars with a kill for 8-7... Boilers counter with kill of their own for 8-8 tie, but then serve into net for 9-8 BYU lead... Kill for 10-8 BYU... Purdue kill to close within 10-9... BYU tip for 11-9... Cougar block, 12-9. T/O Purdue... Boiler kill to close within 12-10, but another service error, 13-10 BYU... Cougar kill for 14-10... 14-11 (BYU fails to capitalize on free-ball opportunity)... Purdue ace closes it to 14-12. T/O BYU...  Another ace! 14-13... BYU hits long after shaky serve-receipt, 14-14... BYU kill for 15-14, Purdue answers 15-15... Cougar net violation for 16-15 Purdue, but BYU challenging. Call confirmed... BYU kill for 16-all... Purdue kill for 17-16... Purdue block to win match, 18-16... Amazing finish! Game-5 hitting: Purdue .211, BYU .100...

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