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College: Top 5 Upsets of the Week (Sept. 11)

Being ranked in PVB’s Top 50 means you are a weekly target for being upset. Here are the biggest ones.

Cal Poly likely made Wichita State’s stay in the AVCA Top 25 a short one after the Mustangs upended the Shockers. (Courtesy Cal Poly Athletics)

As long as we put out our Top 50 Rankings there is always going to be upsets taking place.

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College Court Report (Sept. 11)

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Here are the five most notable ones from last week:

— 1. No. 31 Baylor d No. 15 BYU (21-25, 22-25, 25-18, 28-26, 15-10)

Going the distance is looking like a Baylor specialty. Last weekend, the Bears beat Washington State and lost to College of Charleston, both in five. This weekend, Baylor narrowly fell to Hawaii, 16-14, in Game 5, then was left hoping to see another fifth set after dropping the first two sets to BYU, which was undefeated at the time. This Baylor squad reached the second round of the playoffs last season and with mostly everyone back is showing it can’t be overlooked. The comeback against BYU turned into a battle of outsides, as the four left sides on the floor combined for over 200 swings. Katie Staiger led all players with 26 kills, while freshman and No. 31 Senior Ace Yossiana Pressley added 18 winners for the Bears. McKenna Miller (24 kills) and Veronica Jones-Perry (12) teamed for 36 winners for BYU. Jana Brusek led all players with 31 digs for Baylor. “Our defense was the difference,” Baylor coach Ryan McGuyre said. “We were getting great touches and aggressive moves versus other passes. Even at 11-7 and 12-8 we had that ball drop, but I thought this week Yossi grew up. I think Katie (Staiger) is realizing her role is essential and important to us but also very different than last year.”

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— 2. No. 33 Colorado State d No. 17 Michigan (25-21, 25-22, 25-18)

After losing its season opener to Duke, Colorado State is now on a seven-match winning streak. The latest round of victories includes a triumph over Michigan and the Rams did it in convincing fashion, hitting a remarkable .396 as a team. Sanja Cizmic (13 kills, .550) led the way for Colorado State, which also had help from Paulina Hougaard-Jensen (11 kills, .611). Claire Kieffer-Wright (12 kills, .421) was the only Wolverine to reach double digits in kills. “That was a fantastic job by my team,” Colorado State coach Tom Hilbert said. “I think we played with really great maturity, very similar to how we played against (then No. 15) Florida State and I think these guys are stepping up in those situations. I thought that Katie (Oleksak) did a great job in the distribution the ball with what we were trying to do offensively. I thought that when we pasted the ball well, we really got a good first swing. It was a really fun a really fun volleyball match and our team played exceptionally well.”

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— 3. No. 35 Cal Poly d No. 30 Wichita State (23-25, 21-25, 28-26, 25-16, 15-9)

In terms of our rankings, this barely qualifies for an upset. But it’s significant in that it shows where Cal Poly is at. The Shockers have stayed ranked anywhere from 30-50 in PVB’s Top 50 the past three seasons. In fact, Wichita State even climbed into the AVCA Top 25 last week at No. 23. But after going up 2-0, the Shockers ultimately couldn’t contain the Van Winden sisters. Torrey send down a match-high 30 kills, hitting .348 with 16 digs. Adlee had 22 kills with 19 digs, hitting .271. Taylor Nelson dished out 74 assists for the Mustangs. Tabitha Brown and Abbie Lehman were strong for Wichita State, combining for 38 kills with just five errors on 82 swings.

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— 4. UMKC d No. 39 Northern Iowa (25-18, 16-25, 25-22, 25-23)

Northern Iowa’s results were consistent until this unexpected one dropped. The Panthers hadn’t lost to a team ranked lower all season. In fact, Northern Iowa even has an upset-victory over higher-ranked USC, plus quality losses to Creighton and Kentucky. UMKC came into this contest having already lost to Austin Peay, Tulsa, Wright State, SIUE and South Dakota on the season. Yet, Alex Ratzlaff, Emma Dyer and Alicia Harrington combined for 38 kills to lead UMKC. “It was a great win for our team and our program,” UMKC coach Christi Posey said. “With a tradition-rich program like Northern Iowa, that has such a talented team and coaching staff, it’s a sweet victory. The main thing is that our players executed the game plan. Our defense was terrific and on point. They did what we asked them to do. This is a big step moving forward.”

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— 5. No. 23 Colorado d No. 19 Illinois (25-23, 24-26, 28-26, 12-25, 17-15)

Another one that isn’t a giant upset based on rankings, but what a thrilling outcome it was. And that Colorado prevailed on the road at Illinois, that’s a great victory for the Buffs. Naghede Abu was unstoppable, putting up 15 kills and hitting .619 for Colorado. “This was a big-time win on the road for our team early in the season and something we can build on,” Colorado coach Jesse Mahoney said. “We were behind four of the five sets, but found a way to win when it mattered. Our middles Anna (Pfefferle) and Naghede were huge for us making plays in set five.”

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