UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 16 Penn State women's volleyball's
journey through the NCAA Tournament is headed to the road as the Nittany Lions
travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to square off against the top-ranked Huskers in in
the NCAA Regional Semifinals at noon ET Friday, Dec. 9 on ESPNU.
opportunity to still be playing in the second weekend is something that's
available to a limited amount of teams," head coach Russ Rose said. "We're happy
to still be playing we certainly have a challenging opponent in playing
Nebraska at Nebraska."
week, the Nittany Lions (24-9) swept past LIU Brooklyn in the first round
before taking down Pittsburgh in four sets to advance to the round of 16.
Although regular conference opponents, Penn State and Nebraska (29-2) have not
met in the tournament since the 2008 NCAA National Semifinals.
winner of the Penn State/Nebraska matchup will move on to the round of eight,
taking on either No. 8 Washington (28-4) or Arizona (20-14) in the NCAA Regional
Finals Saturday, Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. on ESPNU.
original field of 64 teams in the NCAA Tournament teams narrowed to just 16
remaining squads, Penn State is poised to make its 14th consecutive appearance
in the NCAA Regional Semifinals, a streak that stands as the longest in
tournament history. The Nittany Lions have also made appearances in eight of
the last 10 NCAA Regional Finals.
Take a closer look at the Nittany Lions as they head to the NCAA Tournament Regionals.
VIDEO: NCAA Tournament Press
Conference - Regionals
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: No. 16 Penn
State at No. 1 Nebraska
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A CLOSER LOOK: Features &
No. 16 Penn State Set for No. 1
By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After defeating LIU Brooklyn in
three sets and Pittsburgh in four sets in the first and second rounds of the
NCAA Tournament, the Penn State has advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinals.
first and second rounds of the tournament, the Nittany Lions competed against
two teams they didn't see in the regular season. However, this coming Friday,
the matchup is the opposite as No.16 Penn State (24-9) will take on No. 1 Nebraska
(29-2) for the third time this season at the NCAA Regional Semifinals.
No. 1 Nebraska
are seeking back-to-back national championships after defeating New Hampshire and
TCU in the first and second rounds of the tournament last weekend. They were
crowned this year's Big Ten champions after finishing off the regular season
with an 18-2 record in conference play.
is the defending national champion so they're especially confident at home," head
coach Russ Rose said. "They're strong in each of the positions...Nebraska just
had six players selected to the AVCA All-Region team."
regular season, Penn State fell to Nebraska in both matches. The two teams first
met in November when top-ranked Nebraska visited Rec Hall and the Nittany Lions
rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to force a fifth set, but ultimately fell short.
Less than two weeks later, Penn State traveled to Lincoln, but lost in three
played there a few weeks ago, so we're familiar with the facility and the
quality of the opponent, Rose said."
serve is set for noon, Nebraska set the single-season average home attendance
record in collegiate volleyball during the regular season with more 8,600
at Nebraska is really tough because it's a huge gym with about 8,000 people in
there and they're all rooting against you, so I think we learned that we need
to start out strong and win the serve-pass game," junior Heidi Thelen said. "If
we come out and play as a team and play together, we can do this. We're just
really excited to go and have another opportunity to play there."
time Penn State and Nebraska played in the NCAA Tournament dates back to the 2008
NCAA national semifinals, when the Nittany Lions battled to a five set win
(25-17, 25-18, 15-25, 22-25, 15-11) in Omaha. Penn State went on to win its
second straight national championship that year, while also hosting LIU Brooklyn
in the first round.
State's Russ Rose and Nebraska's John Cook are two of the top coaches in
collegiate volleyball. Rose entered the year as the winningest coach in NCAA DI
women's volleyball, atop the all-time coaching charts, before improving his
career total to 1, 213 wins and 195 loses in his 38th season. Cook entered the
year at No. 6 all-time, having improved his career record to 658-62 with a
497-64 mark at Nebraska.
programs have combined for eight of the last 10 NCAA titles.
two teams that know how to win and how to compete to win a national
championship," Thelen said. "It's going to be super tough and they're the
defending national champions and we won two, two years before that. It's going
to be a grind, close and tough, but I think we're all really excited and we've
been pumped up all week."
in his 16th season as head coach for Nebraska and was recently named the Big
Ten Coach of the Year by the coaches and media, his first time earning the
honor since the team joined the Big Ten. He has led the Huskers to three
national championships - in 2000 defeating Wisconsin, in 2006, defeating
Stanford and in 2015, defeating Texas.
quality of the players that they have is very high," coach Rose said. "The
coaching is very good and the support of the university is very positive so
they're aware of where they should be with the talent that they have. They're a
challenge for everybody."
No. 8 Washington vs. Arizona
Nittany Lions defeat the Huskers, they will move on to face the winner of No.8
Washington-Arizona in the NCAA Regional Finals Saturday.
Washington earned the Pac-12 title finishing the regular season at 26-4, 16-4
in conference play. The Huskies swept their first two opponents, Texas
A&M-C.C. and Kentucky, to advance to the round of 16.
Cleveland State in the first round of the tournament and shocked No. 9 Michigan
State with an upset in five-sets last Saturday. The Wildcats went 18-14 in the
regular season and 10-10 in conference play to finish seventh, before earning
their fourth consecutive at-large selection to the tournament.
[older] players that have been there and have experienced the national championship,
so it's just really cool to be there because I haven't been there yet and makes
me want to be there even more to experience all these things," sophomore Keeton
Holcomb said. "They know what it takes to get there and that's something I want
to do so I can help the younger players coming in as well and get to the same
spot because I think it's a fun experience and it means a lot."
Veterans Propel Penn State to NCAA Regionals
By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - Behind a balanced offense
from the upperclassmen, the Penn State defeated Pittsburgh in four sets (20-25,
25-16, 25-13, 25-18) in the NCAA second round Saturday night in Rec Hall.
"It was a really competitive match," head
coach Russ Rose said. "Pittsburgh is a great opponent and when we lost the
first game, it was clear that they were more prepared to play at the onset than
we were, but it steadied out. It was a good match. They played really well and
they should be congratulated on a great season."
Juniors Simone Lee and Haleigh Washington
led the offense with 14 kills apiece, with Washington hitting at a .462 efficiency.
Junior Ali Frantti finished second on the team with 11 kills, hitting at a .308
"We played together well and we had three
people with double digit kills. that gave us the balance that we needed," coach
Lee recorded four kills early in the
first set to stamp her name in the Penn State record book, as she moved into
the top three on the single season kills list during the 25-point rally scoring
era. Lee has 485 kills on the year and is 36 kills away from tying for second
The Nittany Lions knew they had to
regroup the second set, having dropped the opening frame, 25-20. Lee opened up the
scoring in the second set with a kill, before pounding another to spark an 8-4
scoring streak early on in the second set.
"Pittsburgh's good so it's hard to win
3-0 all the time," coach Rose said. "We didn't hit for a good efficiency in the
first and they hit for a really high one. In the second game, we were a little
better and they cooled off significantly. It's two good teams battling. That's
what it is. That's what happens in the NCAA Tournament."
Lee also helped out defensively finishing
second on the team with nine digs and two blocks. Washington powered the
blocking unit with five blocks.
Penn State also knew that they had to
build on their momentum from the second set win, and that's exactly what
happened in the opening of the third set.
Washington and Detering teamed up for a
big block that opened up a 7-2 run for the Nittany Lions. Washington led the
offense for most of the set and eventually hammered a kill for set point.
"The start of the first match, we were all
a bit high on our block," Washington said. "We came out of the halfway point in
the first and we made the adjustment a lot lower because Pittsburgh's contact
point is low, really strong and very aggressive. So if we just bring the
contact point down on our blocks and just make sure we're low and over, that
was the big adjustment that we made [from the first set], and it worked."