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Mother McAuley volleyball climbs to No. 10 in JWS rankings after capturing LIVT crown

The Mother McAuley volleyball team poses with the trophy after winning the Louisville Invitational Volleyball Tournament last weekend in Louisville, Ky. (Photo courtesy of @McAuley_VB on Twitter)

Mother McAuley (Ill.) volleyball is a decorated program that has claimed 15 state titles, as well as a national championship in 2016. But the Mighty Macs achieved a first this past weekend when they won the prestigious Louisville Invitational Volleyball Tournament, defeating national powerhouse Assumption (Ky.) in the championship.

The Chicago school won all six matches in the 24-team field, which had a combined 122 state championships, and they capped the run with a sweep of Assumption, which was previously unbeaten on the season and is a 22-time state champion.

The tournament title prolonged an undefeated start to the season for the Mighty Macs and showcased the skill of Michigan commit Ellie White, who finished with 26 kills and already has more than 200 on the year.

Not to be outdone, Northwestern commit Gigi Navarrete was virtually everywhere on defense with 22 digs against Assumption, pushing her past 150 for the season.

Behind that outstanding play and on the back of a stellar tournament run, Mother McAuley has risen 12 spots to No. 10 in this week’s Just Women’s Sports volleyball team rankings.

Check out the complete rankings below, and click here to see last week’s rankings.

1. Cathedral Catholic (Calif.), 17-0

The Dons cruised to another tournament title, beating reigning state champion Marymount in the Dave Mohs Memorial Tournament championship. They have yet to drop a single set this season.

2. Bloomfield Hills Marian (Mich.), 22-0

Kentucky commit Ava Sarafa is averaging nearly 10 assists per set, setting up a trio of attackers that all have more than 100 kills.

3. Byron Nelson (Texas), 28-1

The Bobcats have reeled off 18 consecutive wins and avenged their only defeat with a win over Southlake Carroll on Friday.

4. Westminster Christian (Fla.), 11-0

The Warriors have two wins over out-of-state competition, including No. 5 Cornerstone Christian.

5. Cornerstone Christian (Texas), 43-2

After falling to Westminster Christian, the Warriors have reeled off seven sweeps in a row.

6. Dike-New Hartford (Iowa), 17-1

The Wolverines look to win their second title this season when they host the Dike-New Hartford tournament this weekend.

7. Prestonwood Christian (Texas), 25-1

The Lions won their district opener Tuesday. Their sole blemish remains a loss to Cornerstone Christian.

8. McCutcheon (Ind.), 12-1

Aside from a tournament loss, the Mavericks have dropped just two sets all season.

9. Mira Costa (Calif.), 12-2

The Mustangs have not dropped a set since a loss to No. 19 Mater Dei last month.

10. Mother McAuley (Ill.), 15-0

The Mighty Macs defeated teams from Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio en route to the LIVT championship.

11. Cleveland (Tenn.), 24-1

Kinslee McGowan powers the Blue Raiders’ offense with over 8 assists per set. She has a total of 538 assists on the year.

12. Highland Park (Texas), 27-2

Regional semifinalists a year ago, the Scots seem primed for a deep postseason run.

13. St. James Academy (Kan.), 11-0

The Thunder knocked off reigning Class 6A state champions Blue Valley North on Saturday, one of five wins they picked up on the day.

14. Tompkins (Texas), 24-3

The Falcons are leaning on their senior experience, including their top two attackers and their assists leader.

15. Fayetteville (Ark.), 13-0

The Bulldogs have dominated the opposition, winning 36 of their 37 sets played this season.

16. Santa Fe (Fla.), 10-1

Jalyn Stout, Florida’s Miss Volleyball last season, is averaging over six kills per state for the reigning Class 4A state champions.

17. Sierra Canyon (Calif.) 16-2

With junior Sade Ilawole averaging over 9 assists per set, the Trailblazers have defeated some high-quality competition in California.

18. Redondo Union (Calif.) 12-4

The Sea Hawks’ schedule is a gauntlet, with wins over Mater Dei and Marymount and a loss to Sierra Canyon, among others.

19. Mater Dei (Calif.), 10-3

The Monarchs lost two of their first four matches, but since then, they’ve won eight of their last nine, including a win over Assumption on Wednesday.

20. Assumption (Ky.), 15-2

After winning its first 15 matches, Assumption has lost two in a row, both against ranked opponents.

21. Conroe (Texas), 35-1

The Tigers have already won more matches this season than they did the last two years combined.

22. Wayzata (Minn.), 9-1

The Trojans’ winning streak ended at 61 matches, but they bounced back with consecutive wins.

23. Cypress Ranch (Texas), 29-2

Seniors Bianna Muoneke and Kirby Kliafas lead the Mustangs’ offense with 474 kills and 542 assists, respectively.

24. North Allegheny (Pa.) 12-1

The Tigers suffered their first loss of the season in pool play of the Upper St. Clair Tournament but recovered to win the tournament.

25. Alpharetta (Ga.), 21-3

The Raiders enter the home stretch of the regular season with eyes on returning to the state championship after falling just short of a title last year.

Phillip Suitts is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. He has worked at a variety of outlets, including The Palm Beach Post and Southeast Missourian, and done a little bit of everything from reporting to editing to running social media accounts. He was born in Atlanta but currently lives in wintry Philadelphia. Follow Phillip on Twitter @PhillipSuitts.

Sofia Huerta signs contract extension with Seattle through 2027

(Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Oregon soccer players detail instances of verbal abuse from former USWNT assistant

(Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services)

Members of the Oregon women’s soccer team are saying they received harsh treatment and even verbal abuse from head coach and former USWNT assistant Graeme Abel. 

During the 2023 season, the team had zero wins, and upon its conclusion a total of 12 of the team’s 29 players departed the team. Former players told The Oregonian that Abel would verbally attack them, threaten to kick them off the team and at times would even throw objects.

"When I’d make a mistake at practice, it felt like he made it a job to embarrass you to the point where you just wanted to walk off the field,” one player said. “He’d stop the practice – and I know it’s college soccer, it’s very competitive — but he’d stop practice and just keep going nonstop on this one thing."

In total, the Oregonian spoke with 14 former players – including 12 who agreed to be interviewed in depth. All said that they experienced verbal abuse. Six of the players were among those who transferred following the season. 

One instance of Abel’s tirades included him throwing a water bottle that narrowly missed players’ heads. 

“He kicked all of our staff out of the locker room, kicked a trash can, threw a white board, sat on the trash can and started screaming,” one player recounted. “He wanted us to tell him what we thought went wrong in the game. Me and another player spoke up, and he said, ‘You’re just (expletive) wrong.’ And that if we didn’t want to be in this program, we could all quit, and he’d sign our release paperwork tomorrow.”

While Abel was not made available for an interview, he did say in a statement that “at no point have I used threatening statements or financial repercussions as a part of coaching.”

Instances of emotional distress stemming from Abel’s alleged harsh treatment date back to 2021 – his first full year leading the team following an abbreviated 2020 campaign.

Other former players contacted by The Oregonian detailed positive overall experiences, and described his style as “normal coaching.”

Others, like USWNT players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan, did not respond to requests for comment, although Sauerbrunn wrote in 2019 that she had a “great relationship” with Abel. 

Still, multiple players interviewed had similar stories, with one saying that girls would be “crying in the locker room” after practice because of what he would tell players. Attempts to speak with the administration about his behavior, players say, was “discouraging.”

“His office is like the scariest place,” one player said. “You’d have to sit there while he’d belittle you and say all these nasty things, and gaslight you into believing you’re not good enough. ... Our team fell apart because of the environment he created. We were just trying to get through the day. There was no way we could focus on soccer.”

Multiple players said they experienced suicidal ideation while playing at Oregon. In part of his statement, Abel wrote that “at no time do we put our student-athletes in any danger.”

Abel is currently in his fifth and final year of his contract at Oregon.

Gotham FC unveil Championship rings ahead of banner reveal

Gotham FC players celebrate Lynn Williams' goal in the first half of the 2023 NWSL Championship. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

Gotham FC has unveiled their 2023 NWSL championship rings — and safe to say, they deliver.

The reveal has led to a little bit of trash talk ahead of the team’s matchup with Kansas City this weekend, as both teams have NFL owners. While the Current are co-owned by Patrick and Brittany Mahomes, former Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a co-owner of Gotham. 

On Wednesday, Manning took to Sportscenter to give Mahomes a bit of a hard time.

“He may have one more Super Bowl ring than me, but he does not have a NWSL championship ring like I do,” Manning joked.

“Come Sunday night at Red Bull Arena, April 14th, we’re dropping the banner on Kansas City. We got the ring ceremony, the players get their rings and their championship afterwards. This is it, I’ve got something to talk a little trash to him about because I can’t do it about football anymore, I gotta find something else.”

The appearance came after Manning posted to social media, inviting Mahomes to “come see [the championship ring] up close this Sunday.”

Mahomes responded in kind, writing that “we’ll see y’all Sunday!”

Gotham takes on current league-leaders Kansas City on Sunday at 6pm ET. The game is available on NWSL+.

Oregon State hit by transfer portal again as Raegan Beers departs

ALBANY, NEW YORK - MARCH 31: Raegan Beers #15 of the Oregon State Beavers shoots a free throw during the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 31, 2024 in Albany, New York. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Oregon State leading scorer and rebounder Raegan Beers announced on Thursday that she is entering the transfer portal. 

"Thank you for all of your endless love and support these past two years," she posted on social media. "I will never forget my time at OSU and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to meet and play with incredible people. My journey as a Beav was a special one and I am grateful for my teammates, coaches, fans, and friends who have changed my life throughout my time here."

A sophomore forward, Beers is a two-time All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 17.5 points per game last season while shooting 66.4 percent from the field. She also added 10.3 rebounds en route to earning third-team All-American honors from the AP. 

She’s the fourth Oregon State starter – and seventh player overall – to hit the portal this offseason. She joins Talia von Oelhoggen and Timea Gardiner in the transfer portal, as well as starting freshman Donovyn Hunter. 

Beers and Gardiner were both top-10 recruits in ESPN rankings coming out of high school. 

With the dissolution of the Pac-12, the program will join the WCC next season and no longer be a part of the Power 5.

Conference realignment is hitting the team hard, with coach Scott Rueck saying during the tournament that he knew it could seriously affect his team moving forward. 

"That's reality," Rueck said. "I can't control that, other than just keep doing what I'm doing. I think the opportunity within that for a leader provides a discipline that you'd better be on your A-game all the time. You'd better take care of people, and you'd better provide a great experience. That's the approach going forward and what happens, happens. We'll find a way."

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