UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament field has
been trimmed down to 16, and the eighth-seeded Nittany Lions are in the
Regional Semifinals for the ninth consecutive season.
Penn State marched through its first and second round matches in Rec
Hall for a date against ninth-seeded UCLA (26-6) at Memorial Coliseum in
Lexington, Ky., in the third round of the tournament.The Lions and Bruins will collide on Friday
at 5 p.m. (ESPN3.com).Top-seeded Texas
(24-4) and host Kentucky (28-5) will meet at 7 p.m. (ESPN3.com).The two winners will clash on Saturday at
4:30 p.m. (Live on ESPN2) with a trip to San Antonio on the line.
The four-time defending national champion Nittany Lions will head on the road
for the first time in the postseason seeking their 27th consecutive victory in
the NCAA Tournament.Penn State has won
seven straight matches leading up to Friday's contest against a UCLA squad
making its first appearance in the Regionals since 2008.
Penn State freshman setter Micha Hancock and the Nittany Lion attack tandem of
Ariel Scott and Kentucky native Deja McClendon clicked in the Nittany Lions' 3-0 sweep of
Delaware on Saturday.Scott and
McClendon tallied a combined 44 kills during the first two NCAA matches.
The Lions will be looking for more of the same from Scott and McClendon in
Lexington.Additionally, Katie Slay,
Maddie Martin and the freshmen duo of Nia Grant and Aiyana Whitney will play a
big role at the net for the Lions.Serving
and passing will again be crucial for the Nittany Lions against a talented UCLA
The Bruins lead the all-time series with Penn State by a 6-4 margin.The last meeting came on Aug. 30, 2008 with
the Lions posting a 3-0 victory.
The NCAA field is down to 16.Saturday's
matches around the nation will punch four tickets to San Antonio for the
National Semifinals.Friday begins Penn
State's quest to be one of the final four teams left in the draw.
VIDEO: NCAA Tournament Player
Regionals Statistical Rundown
Team Hitting Percentage
Opponent Hitting Percentage
Blocks Per Set
2.69 per set
2.5 per set
McClendon - 3.55 kills per set
Kidder- 4.56 kills per set
Slay - 1.43 blocks per set
Aquino - 1.11 blocks per set
Top Defensive Specialist
Longo - 3.39 digs per set
Gera - 4.88 digs per set
Opponent Hitting Percentage
Blocks Per Set
Eckerman - 3.58 kills per set
Frazier - 3.20 kills per set
Adams - 1.20 blocks per set
Pavan - 1.10 blocks per set
Top Defensive Specialist
Yogi - 3.41 digs per set
Klefot - 4.81 digs per set
A Closer Look at UCLA
The Bruins enter the Lexington Regional following victories over Maryland
Eastern Shore (3-0) and San Diego (3-1).UCLA finished second in the Pac-12, behind second-seeded USC, with a 17-5
conference mark.With a 26-6 overall
record, the Bruins put together several very solid victories during the
season.The list includes a season split
with USC and a sweep of Stanford.UCLA
knocked off the Cardinal 3-0 on Stanford's home floor.
The Bruins played four teams that were on the Nittany Lions' schedule,
including Oregon (1-1), USC (1-1), Stanford (2-0) and Ohio State (1-0).Penn State posted a 3-2 record against the
same teams.As for personnel, 6-3 junior
outside Rachael Kidder is the top offensive player for the Bruins.She is averaging 4.56 kills per set while
attacking at a .236 clip.Fellow outside
hitter Tabi Love, who Penn State is very familiar with after her two seasons at
Minnesota, is second on the team with 2.68 kills per set.Sophomore Kelly Reeves, who stands at 6-0,
averages 2.05 kills per set for the Bruins.Senior libero Lainey Gera is a very talented player with a beach
UCLA is a team with a very high volleyball IQ.Penn State will be looking to play physical volleyball at the net.Keep and eye on Kidder and Love for the
Bruins.They are the two players that
can put a lot of pressure on the Nittany Lions.
Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hot hands were swinging all weekend long in Rec Hall
as the No. 8 Nittany Lions started their 2011 NCAA tournament appearance off
with a strong offensive showing.
Penn State ousted the Liberty Flames on Friday night in Rec Hall by a score
of 3-0 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday,
where they went on to also sweep the Delaware Blue Hens.
The four-time defending national champions showcased each and every member
of their roster throughout the weekend, as Penn State head coach Russ Rose said
every part of his squad was working well together.
"The good thing is that we got an opportunity to get a number of people in and everybody
that was allowed to play tonight got a little chance to play," said Coach Rose
after the win over the Blue Hens on Saturday night.
But shining throughout the weekend on top of solid defense, tough serving
and a more controlled system was the emergence of several strong hands
offensively at the net.
Sophomores Ariel Scott and Deja McClendon were especially pivotal
throughout the weekend as Scott put up a total of 28 kills and hit over .450
both nights and McClendon added 16 kills with a .524 average against Delaware
On Friday night, Penn State hit .337 as a team and had five individual
athletes swinging .380 or better while Liberty hit just .100 as a team. The
next night, the Nittany Lions did one better hitting .426 as a team with four
players performing better than .450 at the net.
What's more is that most of the standout performance came from freshmen and
inexperienced underclassmen that were making their first real showings in
postseason play. Sophomores Maddie Martin and Katie Slay as well as freshmen
Aiyana Whitney and Nia Grant combined for 40 of the 93 kills that the Nittany
Lions delivered all weekend.
McClendon, who was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, said
that her team's effort as a whole was encouraging to see after an up and down
"It makes me so proud," said McClendon. "I feel like people are really stepping
up and becoming better and kind of growing up and I feel like that happened for
me last year around this time. It makes me really excited for the years to
Freshman outside hitter Aiyana Whitney said that she was also happy with
the way she performed in her debut appearance in the NCAA Tournament. She
attributed much of her success to her fellow freshman teammate and setter Micha
"It felt really good to kind of step up and play a larger part on the
team," said Whitney. "I think that me and Micha were connecting better than we
have in the past and it was good to get into a rhythm with her."
Whitney spoke confidently about her play and the rest of the offensive
power on the Penn State roster, especially after the second round sweep of the
"It definitely does give me more of a mindset of 'I can do this' and I
should take more responsibility for what I have to do and playing pretty well
tonight, I think that it just gives me confidence going into the next round,"
said Whitney. "I hope it sets a tone for the rest of my teammates to let them
know that I'm here to help out and do what I can do."
The combination of all of the swinging threats will be heavily relied on as
the Nittany Lions advance to the next round of the NCAA Tournament. Coach Rose
not only acknowledged the talent of his younger hot hands on the court, but
also gave a nod to their enthusiasm and charisma away from the competition.
"They're a lot of fun," Coach Rose said of his underclassmen. "Everybody
should have a couple (laughter)."
By Laura Finley, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's volleyball team put on a
strong showing this weekend as they defeated Liberty (3-0) and the Delaware
(3-0), allowing them to advance to the Regional Semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
The Nittany Lions swept both teams by utilizing all of their hitters
and generating a strong offensive presence behind the net. This especially
showed on Saturday night against Delaware as three players hit over .500,
contributing to a team hitting percentage of .426.
"I thought it was a match that kind of got away from Delaware right
from the beginning," said head coach Russ Rose. "I thought we served tough and
we passed well. One of the advantages that we thought we did have was that we
went over the top of their block."
On Friday night, it was sophomore middle hitter Ariel Scott who made the
difference for the Nittany Lions, as she was determined to keep her team out in
front of the Flames. Scott had a convincing 16 kills which chalked up to a .452
"A. Scott was doing awesome this weekend," said sophomore outside hitter Deja
McClendon. "She really took control of the game and she's always there when we
need a big kill. It's great for our team right now."
The first set against Liberty started out with four lead changes as the
Nittany Lions struggled to find momentum on the court. Scott kept Penn State in
the game by making critical kills throughout the set, helping her team to pull
ahead of the Flames and end in a dominating fashion. It was a late kill by
McClendon, however, that gave the Nittany Lions a much-needed 11-3 run to close
the set 25-16.
Liberty jumped to an early lead in the second set, but two kills by
Scott allowed Penn State to pull ahead of the Flames, and the team never looked
back. A late run by Liberty gave it some momentum, but the Nittany Lion defense
held strong, posting three team blocks led by sophomore middle hitter Katie
Slay. Penn State ended the set 25-16, with a block by freshman outside hitter
The third set was all Penn State's, as it tallied the first point,
holding onto the lead the entire set. Sophomore outside hitter Maddie Martin
took the spotlight on offense, making six kills. The Nittany Lions ended the
The offensive showing Penn State had against Liberty, carried over to
Saturday's match against Delaware as Penn State dominated behind the net.
Freshman setter Micha Hancock had control over much of the game, distributing
the ball to many of her hitters. The players acknowledged this as being an
important aspect of their win.
"That's definitely a key point that helps us out a lot," said
McClendon. "Our serving was a lot better tonight and our passing game as well."
Penn State jumped to a 9-2 lead in the first set and stayed out front
the rest of the night. The freshmen hitters played a large role behind the net,
hitting over the Blue Hens blocks.
A kill by freshman outside hitter Nia Grant started a 9-1 run late in
the set and a final service ace by freshman defensive specialist Dominique
Gonzalez gave Penn State the win 25-18.
"We were serving tough," said Coach Rose. "With the impact of the
serve, our block was bigger too."
Scott came out strong in the second set, tallying kills on the first
two plays. Penn State had a convincing 13-2 lead before Delaware attempted to
make a comeback, stalling the Nittany Lions early success. Scott refused to
back down, however, helping her team to a 25-9 win with two final kills.
Taking a break on offense, the Nittany Lions posted six team blocks
during the third set, effectively stopping Delaware's offensive play. McClendon
made her first strong showing of the night with five kills in the set and senior
outside hitter Katie Kabbes fittingly closed her career at home with a final
kill, handing Penn State the win 25-18.
"The good thing is that we got an opportunity to get a number of people
in the game," said Coach Rose. "Everybody that was allowed to play tonight got
a little chance to play."
After their performance this past weekend, the Nittany Lions feel confident
going into their next match in Lexington, Ky., but they know they can not
underestimate their opponents.
"I'm pretty confident," said Grant. "But I know that any day, any team
can play good, so you just have to go every day and play hard and want to win."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
- Take a look back at Penn State's 3-0 sweep of
Delaware on Saturday night.The Nittany
Lions move on to the NCAA Regional Semifinals in Lexington, Ky. Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live coverage of the Nittany Lion women's
volleyball team in the NCAA Tournament second round.
The eighth-seeded Nittany Lions (24-7) advanced into the second round with a
3-0 sweep of Liberty on Friday night.Penn State will take on CAA champ Delaware (21-12) with a spot in the Lexington
Regional semifinals on the line.
The four-time defending national champions have won 25 consecutive NCAA
Tournament matches.The Penn State-Delaware
winner will take on either San Diego or ninth-seeded UCLA in Lexington, Ky., on
Friday.Follow along here for updates
after every set.
Set One: Penn State 25, Delaware 12 The Nittany Lions wasted little time taking over in the first set.An error from Delaware and a combined block
from Katie Slay and Deja McClendon fueled a 7-2 lead right out of the gate
before the Blue Hens burned their first time out.Delaware closed to within four (11-7), but
the Lions rattled off eight unanswered to build a comfortable cushion.Freshman Nia Grant started the rally before McClendon
tallied a kill.Maddie Martin then dropped
her first of two aces into an open spot before Delaware committed back-to-back
errors.From there, the Lions put things
on cruise control en route to a 25-12 set victory.After tallying a total of 4.0 blocks on
Friday night, the Lions managed 3.0 in the opening set on Saturday.Penn State hit .500 in the first set, while
the Blue Hens managed just .000 hitting.McClendon led the way offensively with four kills.
Set Two: Penn State 25, Delaware 9 Penn State picked up
right where it left off at the beginning of set two.Two straight kills from Scott and
back-to-back aces from Micha Hancock handed the Lions a quick 6-0 lead before
Delaware called time out.A combined
offensive effort from a pair of freshmen - Grant and Aiyana Whitney - helped Penn
State push the lead up to 13-2 before the Blue Hens scored their first
offensive tally of the set.The Nittany
Lions seemingly did whatever they wanted to in the second set on their way to a
25-9 victory.The story through two sets
has been Penn State's defense, limiting Delaware to .032 hitting.Penn State has attacked at a .435 clip,
thanks to a balanced offensive attack led by 11 kills from Scott.
Set Three: Penn State 25, Delaware 18 Delaware kept things
close from the opening serve in the final set of the match.A Slay kill put the Lions on top 10-8, but
the Blue Hens countered with a kill to set the score at 10-9.McClendon buried her seventh kill of the
match to make it 11-9, but Delaware again had an answer, which tied the set at
11-11.The Blue Hens were not done
there, as they scored three straight points to take a 14-13 lead.Nonetheless, two kills and a pair of Delaware
errors fueled a 4-0 run from the Lions before the Blue Hens used a time out.Whitney came out of the break with a
kill.From there, the Lions finished
things off with a 25-18 set victory to seal a 3-0 sweep.Scott again led the way offensively with 12
kills on .458 hitting.McClendon
registered 11 kills on .524 hitting.Grant played a superb match with seven kills (.667) and five blocks, as
did Whitney with eight kills (.500).As
a team, the Lions hit .426, while the Blue Hens attacked at a .062 clip.
Quoting Coach Rose
"I thought it was a match that got away from Delaware right from the
beginning.They are a much better team
(than the score indicates)."
"I thought we served tough and I thought we passed well."
The Nittany Lions moved on to the third round of the NCAA Tournament
with a complete team effort on Saturday night.The Lions served much better than they did on Friday and they passed
efficiently en route to a dominant victory.Penn State was tremendous at the net, hitting above the Delaware block
throughout the match.Additionally, the
Lions played a much better defensive match with 11.0 team blocks.Anytime you hit .426 in an NCAA Tournament
match it is a good indicator of very strong offensive outing.More importantly than the numbers though,
Penn State had contributions from a large number of different players,
specifically the freshmen attackers.Confidence for Penn State's freshmen in future NCAA Tournament matches
is invaluable.The Lion rookie duo of Whitney
and Grant both hit better than .500.Penn
State took a step forward on Saturday with a dominant performance, but the
competition will be a different story when it arrives in Lexington next
week.The Nittany Lions will face either
ninth-seeded UCLA or San Diego in the Regional Semifinals on Friday.Penn State did what it needed to do on its
home floor advancing to be one of the final 16 teams in the draw.At this time of year, advancing to the next
round is the only thing that matters.
GoPSUsports.com Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The four-time defending national champion Nittany
Lions have been able to begin postseason play on their home court for the last
22 years in a row.
And after sweeping the Liberty Flames of the Big South (25-16, 25-16,
25-16), Penn State took its 17th-consecutive win at home in NCAA Tournament
In front of a crowd of more than 2,200 playoff hungry fans, the Nittany
Lion offense powered behind .337 hitting against Liberty's number of just .075
as a team. Sophomore outside-hitter Ariel Scott had the hot hand on the night
with a match-high 16 kills on .452 hitting while freshman setter Micha Hancock
made a solid showing in her first postseason appearance, guiding the offense
with 36 assists and three kills of her own.
Penn State head coach Russ Rose said that he is happy to have the ability
to host the first round of the NCAA tournament yet again this year and was
satisfied overall with the way both his offense and defense came out against
"You're always pleased when you get that first match out of the way," said Coach
Rose. "You never how you're going to play and you never know especially with a
team with as many young people as we have."
Freshman defensive specialist Dominique Gonzalez was just one of the five
freshmen who made her postseason debut against Liberty, and she said that she
was not only humbled but also confident on the tournament stage for the first
"It's definitely a milestone," said Gonzalez. "It's an honor to be able to
be playing in the NCAA Tournament. It's not pressure or anything but you want
to go out there and you want to do your best for your team."
Before the match between Penn State and Liberty, the Blue Hens of Delaware
defeated American University 3-1 to advance to Saturday night's second round
match. Delaware will face the Nittany Lions in Rec Hall at 7:30 p.m.
The Nittany Lions know that the postseason is a place where anybody can get
hot and every team is looking for the win. Scott said that getting the opening
win of the tournament is key for her team and hopes to continue the trend
against the Blue Hens.
"Every win counts so no matter what team it is," said Scott. "Every team is
going to play hard and as we've seen so far in the tournament, anyone can win
so it was really nice to win our first match and we'll hopefully win again
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
- Take a look back at Penn State's 3-0 sweep of
Liberty in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night. Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live coverage of the Nittany Lion women's
volleyball team in the NCAA Tournament first round.
The eighth-seeded Nittany Lions (23-7) open the tournament against Liberty
(20-12).For the Nittany Lions, they closed the season
with five straight victories, including back-to-back wins on the road during
the final week of the regular season. Penn State knocked off Ohio State
and Michigan State to cap off a second place finish in the Big Ten.
The four-time defending national champions have won 16 consecutive NCAA
Tournament matches in Rec Hall.The Penn
State-Liberty winner will take on Delaware on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.Follow along here for updates after every
Set One: Penn State 25, Liberty 16
Despite playing on the home floor of the four-time defending national
champion Nittany Lions, Liberty showed no signs of nerves in the early stages
of set one.The Flames led by two points
on two different occasions before a 4-0 burst from the Lions set the scoreboard
at 13-10, Penn State.The Nittany Lions
began to find a rhythm towards the latter stages of the set.A Deja McClendon kill triggered a 6-2 scoring
run, which set the score at 20-15 before Liberty used its second time out.From there, Penn State scored the final five
tallies of the set en route to a 25-16 victory.The Lions tallied a .282 hitting percentage while holding Liberty to a
.053 clip.Ariel Scott registered seven
kills on .636 hitting in the opening set.
Set Two: Penn State 25, Liberty 16
Like they did in the first set, Liberty opened set two with an early
lead.A kill from the Flames set the
score at 3-1 before a Slay kill kick-started a 6-0 scoring surge before the
Flames burned an early timeout.Penn
State led by a count of 10-3 before Liberty snapped a 9-0 surge from the
Lions.However, the Nittany Lions would
answer again in the middle of the set with 5-0 run.Freshman Nia Grant kick-started the scoring rally
with a kill and an ace, which put the Lions up 18-8 on the scoreboard.Penn State led by as much as 12 tallies, but
the Liberty put together a four-point rally to trim the margin down to
eight.Nonetheless, freshman Aiyana
Whitney finished things off with two nice plays at the net to set the final
score at 25-16.Scott again tallied
seven kills in the set, giving the talented sophomore 14 for the match on .609
Set Three: Penn State 25, Liberty 16
With a 2-0 lead in the match, Penn State took
control of the third from the opening point forward.Slay kicked things off with a kill.The Lions led 5-2 before the Flames tallied
two points.Nonetheless, that would be
as close as Liberty would get in the final set.The Flames kept things relatively close until back-to-back kills from
Maddie Martin and two straight from Katie Kabbes set the scoreboard at 17-10.From there, the Nittany Lions would cruise to
a 25-16 victory in the set and a 3-0 sweep in the match.Scott was the offensive player of the night
for the Nittany Lions.The sophomore
finished with 16 kills on .452 hitting.Martin tallied five of her eight kills in the third set.Slay added six kills and two blocks. As a team, the Lions managed .337 hitting, while
the Flames were limited to .075 hitting for the match.
Quoting Coach Rose
"I would like to first thank the administration for putting in a bid to host."
"You are always pleased to get that first match out of the way.You never know how you are going to play (in
that first match."
"(The NCAA Tournament) is a great opportunity for people to step up and
be the best they can be."
Penn State moves on to face CAA champion Delaware in the second round of
the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. inside Rec Hall.The Nittany Lions played a solid match on
Friday night against a very hard-working Liberty squad.Scott did a nice job hitting the ball over
the top en route to a superb night offensively.Two stats that stand out on the final box score are service errors and
blocking.Penn State committed eight
service errors and was out-blocked by a 5.0-4.0 margin.The Nittany Lions will need to serve much
better moving forward in the NCAA Tournament.Overall, it was a solid out, but Coach Rose is expecting another valiant
effort from Delaware on Saturday night in the second round.Here is a side-by-side statistical comparison
of the two teams. (Stats do not include updates following Friday's matches.)
Team Hitting Percentage
Opponent Hitting Percentage
Blocks Per Set
2.70 per set
Scott - 3.48 kills per set
Hank - 3.25 kills per set
Slay - 1.44 blocks per set
Evans - 1.03 blocks per set
Top Defensive Specialist
Longo - 3.32 digs per set
Rosehill - 4.19 digs per set
Record vs. Ranked Teams
Follow GoPSUsports.com Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
For the 22nd consecutive season, Penn State will host the first and second
rounds of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament.The four-time defending national champion
Nittany Lions (23-7) open their title defense against Liberty (20-12) on Friday
at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall.
The winner of the Penn
State-Liberty match will move on to face either American (23-10) or Delaware
(20-12) on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
For the Nittany Lions,
they closed the season with five straight victories, including back-to-back
wins on the road during the final week of the regular season.Penn State knocked off Ohio State and
Michigan State to cap off a second place finish in the Big Ten.
Sophomores Ariel Scott
and Deja McClendon lead the Lions into the postseason offensively with 3.59 and
3.48 kills per set, respectively.McClendon was the MVP of last season's NCAA Tournament.Sophomore middle hitter Katie Slay was named
Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year following a superb season blocking on the
front line.Slay averaged 1.44 blocks
per set during the regular season.
The centerpiece of the
Penn State offense will be freshman setter Micha Hancock, who enters the
tournament as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.Hancock has made very good strides throughout her rookie campaign.Hancock is one of five freshmen on the roster
competing in their first NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore libero Ali
Longo will anchor the back line for the Nittany Lions.Longo leads the team with 3.31 digs per
set.As a group, the Lions have made
significant progress from the first match on Aug. 26 to the opening match of
the NCAA Tournament.
Now, it is win or go
home for all 64 teams on the bracket.Penn
State has won 24 consecutive matches in the NCAA Tournament and 16 straight
postseason matches at home.The Lions
have ended the year with a national title trophy four years in a row.The title defense begins on Friday in Rec
Q&A: The Radio Voice of Penn State Women's Volleyball
GoPSUsports.com's Brian Tripp has provided live radio or television coverage of
the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team throughout the 2011 season.We caught up with Tripp for his thoughts on
the team as it enters the NCAA Tournament.
Q: How much has the team grown from August to now? Tripp:
"In the beginning of the season, they had so many different lineups it was hard
for them to jell, but now they are a cohesive unit.Everyone understands their roles and you can
just see the freshmen are so much more comfortable out there on the floor.It really makes them a better team.Before, they were thinking instead of doing,
and now they are doing and thinking all at the same time.The team really has grown."
Q: What needs to happen for this team to be successful in the postseason?Do the freshmen need to play at a certain
level; do the veterans need to play at a certain level?What is it going to take to be successful? Tripp:"I think on a team
aspect, they have to play well as a team and pass well as a team out of the
back row.That's one thing that has been
a recurring theme, passing poorly at times in the season.If they can pass well out of the back row,
they can make it a whole lot easier on the freshman setter in her first
tournament.Micha Hancock is an
exceptional server and an exceptional setter for being a freshman, but if her
task is made more difficult because the back row isn't strong, that's a lot of
pressure on her.That's one of the worst
possible things that can happen, to have a freshman be bearing that much
weight.If the passing out of the back
row is solid, the serves are between the white lines on the court, then they
can control the game."
Q: Your thoughts on the draw? Tripp: "Well, they are not in Hawaii.When you have two conference champions in the same bracket, the team
that was second in the National Tournament last year in the same bracket out in
Hawaii, you breathe a sigh of relief that you are not there.It could have been better, it could have been
worse.That's not in their control, at
all.You just have to play who you are
told to play and go out and get the job done.Texas is going to be very tough assuming they get there.You cannot overlook any of the opponents come
tournament time because there is no double elimination. You lose and you are
done.You have to take it one match at a
time.Whoever the next opponent is, you
go out and play them.If you are going
to win the NCAA Tournament, you have to beat six teams, and no matter what six
teams they are, somewhere along the line you are going to run into a good
Q: In your eyes, who is the key player to watch? Tripp: "Deja McClendon.Absolutely.Last year in the
final three matches of the tournament, she averaged 5.2 kills per set and that
is on a team with Blair Brown.She
picked up her game in last year's tournament.She is an elite kind of player.When she gets hot, they feed off of that energy. You can see it in the
stretch with the last home match against Purdue, especially.Deja outplayed Ariel Turner from Purdue, Big
Ten player of the year.When she gets
going, the rest of the team gets going as well.I am not worried about the defense with Penn State.I think the back row will get the job done.
If the offense attacks and Deja McClendon is hot and Ariel Scott plays
consistent, I think it will be a great game."
Follow GoPSUsports.com Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There might not be any snow on the ground and it may
not feel like the holiday season just yet, but for Penn State setter Kristin
Carpenter the start of postseason volleyball means that it truly is the most
wonderful time of the year.
"We didn't win the Big Ten but we have an opportunity to win
something greater," said Carpenter."Just having that opportunity just puts us all in different moods and as
the songs have been singing, this is the greatest time of the year for us."
This season marks the Penn State women's volleyball team's 31st consecutive NCAA
Tournament appearance. The last four times that the Nittany Lions entered into postseason action,
they came out with a national championship.
Starting on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall, the 2011 team will begin its
playoff journey in hopes of ending it the same way.
As defending national champions and the eighth-seeded team in the
tournament, Penn State plays host to the first round of the NCAA Tournament
amongst American, Delaware and Liberty.
Getting set to face Liberty on Friday night on their home court, senior outside
hitter Katie Kabbes and junior setter Carpenter agreed that their excitement
for postseason volleyball is even more so with the ability to play in State
"It's just nice because we have the greatest support system
and the greatest fans and knowing that we get to play on our journey hopefully
to the Final Four, we get to play in front of our fans and show them what our
mentality is how we're ready to go in the tournament," said Kabbes.
"They're not just rooting for us, they want to see good
volleyball so we're really grateful that we got a first round pick," said
Neither Kabbes nor Carpenter has experienced anything less than a winning
season in their time with the Nittany Lions, as both veterans have earned
national championships each year they have played.
Kabbes, who is looking to round out her collegiate volleyball career with a
fourth championship ring, says that when it comes to postseason play its all
about keeping your eye on the price.
"This is a new team," said Kabbes. "Every team we play we just have to go in
with a game plan and execute that and it's just a bigger focus. With the
tournament it's one loss and you're done and we want to finish on a high note.
We know each team is a new team we're facing that we haven't played in the past
like in the regular season."
As five sophomores and two freshmen have been in the starting lineup for the
majority of this season, Kabbes said that she has been lending her advice and
experience to the young starters.
"I've been talking to a lot of the younger girls a lot about how this time of
year it's about confidence and knowing that we're good enough," said Kabbes.
"We've competed all season against top teams in the country and the losses
we've had, we know we could've pulled out a win in those so it's knowing that
we're good enough to compete and just going out there and playing confidently."
Carpenter has also been talking to her teammates and explained how playoff
volleyball revolves around the idea that "anybody can get hot", and how that
notion can sometimes make for an unpredictable tournament.
"That is probably the theme for this year," said Carpenter. "It's really crazy
this year but we're really focusing on that it's not who you play it's how we
play. We have to pick our game up, we have to focus on us because that's the
only thing that we can control."
The Nittany Lions hold a 23-7 overall record heading into the first round of
the NCAA Tournament and did not win the Big Ten title this season, but
Carpenter said that unlike last year, she is confident in the talent that her
team will put out on the floor.
"Last year if you would have told me that we were going to even be in the final
four I would have laughed in your face," said Carpenter.
"This year, I think we can do it," said Carpenter. "It's a very humbling
confidence because we've had a lot of very humbling moments this season but we
have the talent, we have the goal and we know what we want."
By Laura Finley, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This is it for the
freshmen on the Penn State women's volleyball team. Everything they have worked
for this season finally culminates this weekend when they play in their first
"The freshmen are really excited because it's our first experience with the
tournament and it's all a really big deal," said freshman setter Micha Hancock.
"It's been a long season so you kind of lose sight. Now the tournament is here,
in your face, and we're just ready to go. This is it."
After earning the No. 8 seed, the Nittany Lions
will face Liberty University on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
hosted at Rec Hall. All eyes will be on the five freshmen players as they
experience the postseason for the first time.
"I'm super excited," said freshman outside hitter Nia Grant. "This is what you
wait all year for and I can't wait to start it."
The women's volleyball team holds a 23-7 overall
record this season and hopes to continue finding success this weekend. With the
guidance of veteran players, the freshmen feel they will be prepared going into
the game on Friday.
"The older girls tell us to play hard, try our
best, and work hard in practice every day," said Grant. "It's the same thing as
the whole year. Nothing's changed."
Although the team's focus may not have changed,
the Nittany Lions know they must stay consistent with their level of play in
order to defeat their opponents. With the players facing the top teams in the
nation, they are working hard each practice to improve their communication and
to find consistency playing together.
"I feel we have to respect the game," said Hancock. "We need to go in and play
the best we can. We can't play around with these teams because they all want to
win. We can't underestimate anyone. The key to winning is playing hard. We can
do it if we play hard and we play together well."
This maturity and understanding of the game has allowed the freshmen to step
into their roles on the court, giving them more confidence each day. Whether
they are digging balls, assisting kills or serving, each player is able to add
a new strength to the volleyball team.
"We know we have to go out there and do our best," said Grant. "We can't really
compare ourselves to the past teams. We are a totally different team. We have
to work in new ways, to meet new goals."
Fans will have the chance to see the team first hand Friday night in Rec Hall
at 7:30 p.m., as the freshman step up and hope to become part of the winning
tradition that is Penn State women's volleyball.
"We're all pumped up," said freshman defensive specialist Lacey Fuller. "After
we watched the brackets as a team, we all just felt like 'This is it. This is
what we've worked for.'"
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The four-time defending national champion Nittany Lion women's volleyball team
(23-7, 16-4) will be the No. 8 seed for the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Penn State will host
Big South champion Liberty (20-12) in the opening round of the tournament on Friday
at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall.The Penn
State-Liberty winner will take on Delaware (20-12), the CAA champion, or
American (23-10), the Patriot League champion.Delaware and American collide at 5 p.m. on Friday.The winners will meet in the second round on
Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The Nittany Lions are
in the Lexington Regional.The other
ranked teams in the regional include, top overall seed, Texas (22-4), No. 9
UCLA (24-6) and No. 16 Texas A&M (22-7).Should the seeded teams all advance to the regional semifinals, Penn
State would potentially play UCLA.There
is also the potential for a Penn State-Texas regional final matchup.The Lions and Longhorns have met in each of
the past two seasons in the national title match and national semifinals,
Looking ahead to this
weekend's competition in Rec Hall, Delaware is the top team in the latest RPI
at No. 79.Liberty is ranked No. 145 and
American is ranked No. 94.
Penn State and
Stanford are the only two teams in the 31 years of the NCAA Volleyball
Tournament to qualify for every postseason competition.Stanford (21-7) is the No. 11 seed in this
season's tournament. Penn State has hosted first and second round competition
25 times out of the 31 years the tournament has existed.
All eyes will be on
the Honolulu Regional, which is on the opposite side of the bracket from Penn
State.Three of the top eight ranked
teams in the nation - USC, Nebraska and Hawaii - are all part of the regional.
The 64-team field is
made up of 31 automatic conference champion qualifiers and 33 at-large teams.The Big Ten led all conferences with eight
selections in the NCAA Tournament.The
quest for a berth in the National Semifinals in San Antonio begins on Thursday
for 20 teams on the bracket.Below are
the automatic qualifiers and at-large teams:
AEC - Albany (85)
A-10 - Dayton (36)
ACC - Florida State (10)
Atlantic Sun - Lipscomb (89)
Big 12 - Texas (2)
Big East - Cincinnati (19)
Big Sky - Northern Colorado (108)
Big South - Liberty (145)
Big Ten - Nebraska (4)
Big West - Long Beach State (41)
CAA - Delaware (79)
Conference USA - Tulsa (24)
Horizon League - UW-Milwaukee (50)
Ivy - Yale (91)
MAAC - Niagara (148)
MAC - Central Michigan (74)
MEAC - Maryland-Eastern Shore (195)
MVC - Northern Iowa (5)
MWC - Colorado State (28)
NEC - Sacred Heart (80)
Ohio Valley - Morehead State (86)
PAC-12 - USC (8)
Patriot - American (94)
SEC - Tennessee (9)
Southern - Samford (62)
Southland - Texas State (72)
SWAC - Jackson State (217)
Summit - North Dakota State (42)
Sun Belt - Western Kentucky (21)
WCC - Pepperdine (16)
WAC - Hawaii (7)
33 At-Large Teams (RPI)
Iowa State (3)
Penn State (11)
Northern Illinois (14)
Texas A&M (17)
Miami (Florida) (22)
San Diego (25)
Kansas State (26)
North Carolina (31)
Western Michigan (32)
Ball State (34)
Michigan State (37)
Wichita State (39)
Missouri State (44)
Middle Tennessee (45)
Ohio State (48)
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