Penn State Volleyball Extends Win Streak to 100 Consecutive Matches
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The No. 1 Penn State women's volleyball team (36-0) won its 100th consecutive match with a 3-0 sweep (25-18, 25-17, 25-22) of ninth-seeded California on Dec. 12. The Nittany Lions advanced to the NCAA National Semifinals for the third straight season. Head coach Russ Rose has now won 999 matches in his career.
Junior Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.), senior Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.), junior Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) were all named to the Gainesville Regional All-Tournament team. Senior Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) was named the regional's Most Outstanding Player. Cal's Carli Lloyd and Hana Cutura and Florida's Elyse Cusack joined the Nittany Lions on the all-tournament team.
Hodge led the Nittany Lions with 14 kills on .429 hitting, while Brown tallied 13 kills and two aces. Glass dished out 35 assists and led the team with 12 digs. Junior Fatima Balza (Merida, Venezuela) led the team with five total blocks, while junior Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) had a match-high five aces.
Penn State attacked at a .337 clip totaling 40 kills, 38 assists, eight aces, 35 digs and 10.0 total team blocks. Cal (21-11) finished the night with 39 kills on .192 hitting. The Bears also recorded 35 assists, two aces, 30 digs and just 3.0 total team blocks.
Cal was on the board first to start the match and the two teams traded points until the Bears took a 4-2 lead. Balza spiked the ball through a block to spark a 7-0 run by the Lions, including three straight aces from D'Errico and back-to-back kills from Brown, for an 9-4 lead. Cal's Hana Cutura cut off the PSU run with a kill before a Cat Brown and Correy Johnson stuff had the Bears within three. A Penn State attack error brought the Bears within two, 9-7, but a kill and an ace by Brown had Penn State back up by four, 11-7. Tarah Murrey fired back for Cal with a kill, but a putdown from freshman Darcy Dorton (Muncie, Ind.) and a monster kill from Wilson moved the Nittany Lions ahead by five, 13-8. Cal fought back to within three points, but the Lions were able to maintain the lead. Trailing by four, the Bears tallied two kills. However, Wilson had a solo stuff before teaming up with Glass for another block to give the Lions their four-point lead back, 21-17. Two Cal attack errors put PSU in set-point position. Hodge, with her fifth kill of the set, gave PSU a 25-18 set one victory.The Bears jumped out to a 4-1 lead early in set two, but thanks to kills from Brown and Wilson and another Brown ace the Nittany Lions were within one, 6-5. A Cal error allowed the Lions to tie it up, 6-6, but a Murrey kill put the Bears ahead, 7-6. The score tied twice more before a Cal error and a huge block by Balza and Hodge put the Lions up by three, 11-8, forcing Cal to take a timeout. By midway through the frame, Penn State led by five, 15-10. Two kills by Cutura and a Tia Gaffen and Carli Lloyd stuff brought the Bears within two, 15-13. Kills by Wilson, Brown and Dorton, as well as a Penn State block gave the Lions some much-needed breathing room at 20-15. After a service error by each team and a Cal timeout, a Hodge kill, an ace by senior Kelsey Ream (State College, Pa.) and a Balza slam secured set two for the Lions, 25-17.
The Nittany Lions trailed to start the third set, but strong blocking and kills by Brown and Hodge prevented Cal from early. Tied at 6-6, two Cal kills and a PSU error gave the Bears a 9-6 lead. Another Penn State error and a Cutura kill gave the Bears their largest lead of the night, 11-7, just moments later. The Nittany Lions notched the next three points to be within one of the Bears, 11-10, but a Johnson/Brown stuff had Cal ahead by two, 12-10. The Nittany Lions managed to tie the score twice before two consecutive kills by Hodge gave Penn State a 15-14 lead. Following a timeout, the two teams went back-and-forth in scoring until a Hodge kill and a joint block by Hodge and Balza had the Lions leading 20-17. Cal called a timeout and it slowed the Lions momentum enough to allow the Bears to tie the set at 20-20. A Brown kill and a Cal attack error forced the Bears to bench a second time. Despite posting a kill after the break, the bears registered a service error to turn the ball over the the Lions. D'Errico served an ace to put the Lions in match-point position. Cal managed one final point before Brown put down a kill to send the Lions to the National Semifinals for the third straight season.
The Nittany Lions will face either Hawaii or Michigan out of the Stanford Regional on Thursday, Dec. 17 in Tampa, Fla.
For more information on the Penn State women's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State women's volleyball 2009 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets and The Outlets At Hershey.
*Article courtesty Penn State athletics.