Freshman Stephanie Samedy may be the No. 1 reason Minnesota volleyball is No. 1
Minnesota went into Texas' Gregory Gym and showed why it's the top-ranked team in the nation, defeating the Longhorns 3-1.
For the second straight week, freshman Stephanie Samedy picked up MVP honors after a match-best 22 kills while hitting .308 against Texas. Texas' prized freshman, Lexi Sun, also went big, recording 19 kills and 13 digs. During the tournament that also saw the Golden Gophers defeat Denver and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Minnesota's 6-foot-2 opposite hitter from Clermont, Florida, had 43 kills and 10 blocks.
Samedy also was MVP of the Diet Coke Classic played the week before in Minneapolis. Add another accolade as Samedy is espnW's national player of the week. The Golden Gophers maintained the top spot in this week's AVCA poll; Texas is ranked No. 6.
We caught up with Samedy for her thoughts on:
Winning at Gregory: "That was an awesome win. The atmosphere there was crazy. The fans were doing their job supporting their team. It was really loud, but we just stayed together."
Minnesota being ranked No. 1: "We try not to look too much into that. We try to go out and play Gopher volleyball."
Never seeing snow before: "This will be my first winter. I'm told I'm in for a big surprise coming from Florida."
Being a two-time MVP already: "It's a huge honor. I try to do everything I can to help the team. It's nice to be recognized."
Her toughest class: "My writing class. My professor is particular on how he wants things done."
Her favorite athlete: "Serena Williams. She's my role model."
Her favorite store in Mall of America: "Forever 21 is my go-to."
Something that would surprise many: "I'm left-handed, but I hit with my right. When it comes to sport, I do everything with my right. Everything else, brushing teeth, writing, I do with my left hand."
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No. 2 Penn State (7-0) and No. 10 Nebraska (5-2) each won Round 2 as well as Round 1 over a daunting opponent.
The Nittany Lions prevailed in a five-setter over Stanford, their second victory over the defending national champions in nine days. Nebraska didn't drop a set in defeating UCLA twice. The teams played on back-to-back nights in the Cornhuskers' Devaney Sports Center.
It's unusual for nonconference teams to have met twice in a season that's just three weeks old. In the first meeting between Penn State and Stanford in College Station, Texas, the Nittany Lions won 3-1 behind a triple-double from Abby Detering (23 assists, 11 kills, 10 digs).
The Cardinal didn't have Merete Lutz for that one; the 6-foot-8 opposite sprained her ankle in the preseason. Lutz returned to action over the weekend for the teams' second encounter in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge in Champaign, Illinois. Stanford led 2-1 before the Nittany Lions rallied for the final two sets, including a 15-11 fifth.
Penn State's 20 blocks were the second most in program history in the rally scoring era. Middle blocker Haleigh Washington had 10 of those to go with 11 kills.
It's another statement win for the Nittany Lions' senior-laden bunch, which includes Simone Lee and Ali Frantti in addition to Detering and Washington. Penn State will host its own tournament featuring Yale, Wake Forest and Ohio before opening Big Ten play against Nebraska on Sept. 22.
As for the Huskers, they snagged all six sets over a Bruins team that had won its first five matches.
Nebraska coach John Cook, who likened the weekend series to the NBA Finals, said while playing in Lincoln in front of one of the sport's most fervent fan bases might seem inviting, he struggled to find an opponent looking to face both his Huskers and the Bruins in the same tournament.
Cook said: "I just asked the UCLA coach, 'Hey, why don't we play back-to-back? Our fans will love it, and it will be great competition for both of us.' "
The warm welcome stopped there. UCLA did not have a player in double-digit kills in either match. Nebraska, which has swept its last five matches, was led by junior Mikaela Foecke with 25 kills in the two victories. Senior Annika Albrecht had 20 and freshman Jazz Sweet had 19.
Creighton notches another significant road win
The Cornhuskers aren't the only team in Nebraska on a roll. No. 8 Creighton (7-2) stunned previously unbeaten Kansas on Saturday night, 3-0, in a sold-out Horejsi Family Athletics Center in Lawrence. Kansas hadn't been swept at home since 2011.
In fact, the Jayhawks hadn't lost since, well, dropping a five-setter to the Bluejays in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The victory earned Creighton the Kansas Invitational title despite a loss to Purdue. Creighton, Kansas and Purdue all finished 2-1, but the Bluejays earned the tiebreaker, decided by set winning percentage.
Junior Jaali Winters picked up tournament MVP honors, posting 14 kills and 12 digs against Kansas.
It's Creighton's second road win in 15 days over a top-10 opponent. On Aug. 26, the Bluejays upended then-No. 3 Washington in Seattle.
Add a win over Kentucky on Sept. 1, and it's the first time Creighton has beaten three ranked teams in the same season in its history.
Kansas (9-1) dropped from No. 7 to 9 in this week's poll.
No. 3 Florida was set to host a tournament last weekend, and Michigan State was even in Gainesville for the Active Ankle Challenge. The field also included UNC Greensboro and American, but the event was scrapped due to Hurricane Irma.
Minus matches, the Gators celebrated middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan's 21st birthday by taking in the new movie adaptation of Stephen King's "It."
The Gators last played on Sept. 3, sweeping North Carolina. They were scheduled to play Florida State on Tuesday, but that has been moved to Sept. 19. Next up for Florida is the Gator Invitational, which includes Lipscomb, Northern Kentucky and Florida A&M, this weekend.
Among the other Irma-related changes: Florida State canceled its weekend dates against Tennessee and Arizona. Miami canceled its trip to Philadelphia for matches against Delaware and Temple. The Hurricanes return to the court this weekend, hosting James Madison, Auburn and South Alabama in a tournament.
Weather also forced the cancellation of the Coastal Carolina Classic in Conway, South Carolina; the Chanticleers, Notre Dame, Florida International and Ohio State were in the field.
No. 14 Brigham Young at No. 16 Utah: Coming into the 100th meeting in this series on Thursday, the Cougars are 8-1, having topped Ohio State, Hawaii and Missouri. Utah's Adora Anae set a school record with 31 kills in the Utes' five-set win over BYU last year. She already has 140 this season. Will she be the hammer for Utah, looking for a second consecutive win in a series that favors BYU 69-30?
Colorado at No. 22 Colorado State: The Rams have won eight straight, including a sweep of Michigan on Friday. They welcome their in-state rival to Moby Arena on Saturday. CSU is the dominant team in the series (23-12), but the Buffs came out on top, 3-1, a year ago.
No. 8 Creighton at Wichita State: The Shockers, receiving votes in the poll, are tournament hosts for a weekend classic that also includes Iowa State. After starting the season 7-0, can Wichita State rebound from consecutive losses to Oregon and Cal Poly? The Bluejays, meanwhile, who upset Kansas last weekend in its gym, would love to play spoiler for the home team yet again.