Texas back on the court; Hilbert to retire; Pacific forfeits; AVCA Poll, POW

Texas is finally back in action as the top-ranked Longhorns play Iowa State, the only team to beat them. Colorado State’s Tom Hilbert will retire at season’s end, Pacific players refuse to go to BYU, and we have the AVCA Poll and POW.

Wednesday is also national signing day, so if you follow volleyball teams on social media you will see which schools got papers from their recruits.

WEDNESDAY: A day after the sport took Election Day off, there are eight matches on the schedule including top-ranked Texas playing host to Iowa State in the Big 12. Iowa State is the only team to beat Texas, beating the Longhorns in five on October 19 in Ames. Texas, because TCU had to forfeit last week, hasn’t played a match since October 28. Also in the Big 12, Texas Tech is at Oklahoma.

No. 24 UCF plays an American Athletic Conference match at South Florida. 

ETSU (East Tennessee State University), which holds a three-game lead atop the Southern Conference standings, is at Chattanooga. Also in the SoCon, UNC Greensboro is at Western Carolina and Samford goes to Mercer.

Independent Chicago State plays at Delaware of the CAA and Southern Indiana goes to Eastern Illinois in the Ohio Valley Conference.

HILBERT TO RETIRE: Colorado State coach Tom Hilbert announced Monday he is retiring at season’s end. He joins Minnesota’s Hugh McCutcheon as the second coach to announce he is leaving after the 2022 season. Ole Miss also has an opening after the school and coach Kayla Banwarth “mutually agreed to part ways” two weeks ago.

Hilbert has been the Colorado State coach for 26 years. This is from the CSU news release:

“Today, after much thought and reflection, I am announcing that I have decided to retire from coaching collegiate volleyball at the end of this season,” Hilbert said. “For the past 39 years – 26 of them here at Colorado State – I have been blessed to live out my dream at the best university and in the best volleyball community in the country, Colorado State University and Fort Collins, Colo.

“I have so many people to thank from our incredible fan base, fellow coaches, and administrators. But most of all I want to thank the amazing players who have been the real impetus for the success of Ram Volleyball. Thank you for all that you were willing to give… and for trusting me with your collegiate experience.

“There will be a time to celebrate and reflect, with more storytelling and memories. But this is not that time. There is still work to do. We want to win the Mountain West Championship and the Mountain West Tournament. This team is filled with amazing young women who need your support. So, let’s keep our focus on this team and together, we can make 2022 a great story in Ram Volleyball history.”

Winning Mountain West Coach of the Year 12 times throughout his career as well as leading the Rams to 23 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, Hilbert’s impact on Ram volleyball is one which will continue to impact the program for years to come.

Colorado State is 17-8 this season, 10-4 in the Mountain West, and plays host to New Mexico on Thursday.

PACIFIC WON’T GO TO BYU: Pacific, which earlier beat BYU in West Coast Conference play, has forfeited its match in Provo on Thursday as a protest. BYU has already listed it as such on its website. The Cougars are 18-5 overall and second in the WCC at 12-2. Pacific is 13-12, 5-9.

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

Months after Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson alleged that she was called a racial slur at BYU, the University of Pacific volleyball team pulled out of its game in Provo and elected to forfeit the match instead.

“The team expressed concerns following reports of racist and hostile comments during an August 26 match,” said Mike Klocke, Pacific’s senior director of communications. “Pacific stands with our student-athletes.”

During a tournament in August, Richardson said she was called the N-word by a fan in the BYU student section. BYU launched an investigation into Richardson’s allegations in the days after the match and found no evidence that a racial slur was said. It also reinstated a fan who was banned in the aftermath of the incident and apologized to the family.

On Monday night, BYU associate athletic director Jon McBride called Pacific’s decision “unfortunate” and said the athletic department offered to meet with Pacific officials multiple times but were declined.

“We offered multiple times to have in-person meetings with a variety of administrators and coaches to speak through concerns, whether in Stockton or Provo,” McBride said. “We also offered to have our student-athletes engage in conversation together. Pacific did not accept any of these offers.”Pacific is the first West Coast Conference team to cancel a trip to Provo in the aftermath of the Duke volleyball match. South Carolina’s women’s basketball team also canceled its home-and-home series with BYU, but it was a nonconference game.

The cancellation, and forfeit, of a conference game is a more significant step. This is especially true considering that WCC officials reviewed BYU’s investigation into Richardson’s claims and publicly backed BYU’s response. It also said BYU took “appropriate measures and policies to help avoid future incidents.”

This was the original statement from BYU: 

“The University of the Pacific’s decision to forfeit this week’s women’s volleyball match is unwarranted and deeply disappointing. Following the Aug. 26 allegation, BYU conducted an extensive review and found no evidence to corroborate this allegation. As we have stated previously, BYU will not tolerate any conduct that would make a student-athlete feel unsafe in our athletic environments. It is unfortunate that Pacific would make a decision that perpetuates the very challenge we are working to heal in our polarized society.”

There is no mention of the situation on the Pacific website except for listing it as a forfeit on the schedule.

NCAA RPI: The top four, through ratings through Sunday, are Texas, Louisville, Stanford and Nebraska. That’s important because the top four seeds in the NCAA Tournament not only play at home the first two rounds, if they win get to host the third and fourth rounds. Nos. 5-8 are Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Florida.

The top 16 teams get seeds and play first- and second-round matches at home. The next eight are San Diego, Kentucky, Minnesota, Oregon, Baylor, UCF, Creighton and Marquette.

Click here for the complete NCAA RPI.

AVCA POLL: Nos. 1-9 stayed the same, which means Texas, San Diego, Wisconsin and Nebraska hold the coveted top four spots. 

The first movement came when Baylor, Florida and Creighton moved up a spot eachs, to No. 11, 12 and 13, respectively, and Georgia Tech dropped three spots to 13th.

There was no major movement, although Iowa State dropped out, and Washington State moved in at No. 25.

Click for the complete AVCA Division I Coaches Poll.

AVCA POW: The national player of the week is Montana State junior outside hitter Kira Thomsen. Montana State had Big Sky victories over Sacramento State and Portland State and Thomsen averaged six kills a set. She had 32 kills in the five-set win over Portland State while hitting .444 and had 20 digs. She’s the first Montana State to be so honored.

Kira Thomsen digs for Montana State/Sawyer Haupt photo

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