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2012 NCAA Tournament: Penn State Rolls to Regional Semifinals

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was the last match that the Nittany Lions will play in Rec Hall this season, so they made sure to make it count.

8374788.jpegPenn State rolled to a 3-0 victory over Bowling Green on Saturday night on its home court in front of a postseason crowd of more than 3,400. The win gave the Lions a second-round victory in the 2012 NCAA Tournament and puts them through to the regional semifinals, which will be held in Purdue's Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind.

The top-seeded Lions had the privilege of hosting both the first and second rounds of the tournament, Friday and Saturday night, for the 23rd consecutive season.

Nittany Lions' head coach Russ Rose said that while he was appreciative of the opportunity for Penn State to provide his team the ability to play on its home court, he knows that his athletes are the ones that earned it.

"The benefit is, if you had a season that we had, it affords you the opportunity to play at home," said Rose. "It's always better to play at home. You work hard to have that home court advantage and you hope to be able to defend it when you get there."

Penn State's 29-2 regular-season record and Big Ten title lent itself to just that.

For freshman outside hitter Megan Courtney, the weekend was the first postseason volleyball action that she has seen at the collegiate level. After dishing out six kills on .417 hitting and putting up a match-high nine digs against the Falcons, Courtney said that the tournament is everything she imagined it to be.

"It's a great environment to be able to play at home and it's just really comforting to be able to get into the swing of things here," said Courtney. "My teammates are just unbelievable and supportive and they just teach me the way and I follow. It's been such a great ride so far."

The Nittany Lions continued to spread the wealth on offense and proved too much for Bowling Green to handle. Penn State dealt 37 total kills, and the Falcons knocked down just 18. Sophomore setter Micha Hancock was able to distribute the ball effectively and allowed four of her hitters to record six or more kills.

Junior middle hitter and captain Katie Slay and sophomore middle Nia Grant were two of those four, rounding out the match with seven kills each. Slay said the moving further into postseason, the Lions need to continue working together.

"We have to have the other teams think we're a threat in the middle so that they have one more thing to worry about so that there's not always a double-block on Deja or Ariel," said Slay. "It's important to keep that going from here on out."

Next, Penn State travels to Mackey Arena for the NCAA Regional Semifinals where it will face No. 16 Kentucky on Friday, Dec. 7.

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