No. 1 Penn State Closes Out Regular Season Undefeated
Nov. 28, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the third straight season, the top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team closed out its regular season undefeated after sweeping No. 12 Michigan, 3-0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-23). Penn State (32-0, 20-0) has now won 96 consecutive matches, 65 straight Big Ten matches and 72 matches in a row in the confines of Rec Hall.
Senior Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) led all players with 17 kills and tallied a team-best 11 digs. Junior Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) finished the night with 10 kills and five blocks and junior Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) posted nine on 15 errorless swings. Wilson led the team in blocks with six total, while junior Fatima Balza totaled five. Senior setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) paced the Nittany Lion offense with 34 assists and also has eight digs. Junior libero Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) finished the night with 10 saves.
Penn State attacked at a .312 clip and held the Wolverines (24-9, 12-8) to just .165. The Nittany Lions had 40 kills 36 assists, four aces, 43 digs and 12.0 total team blocks. Michigan finished the match with 39 kills, 39 assists, three aces, 37 digs and 3.0 team blocks.
Despite falling behind 4-1 early in the first set, the Nittany Lions bounced back and tied it up at 5-5 after kills from Wilson and Hodge, an ace from Glass and a Brown and Balza block. After kills by Brown and Wilson, Penn State had a slim 7-6 lead. The Wolverines tied the set twice before a monster Hodge kill put the Nittany Lions in the lead for good. Penn State increased its lead to four, 14-10, but UM fought to within one after two PSU errors and a kill from Karlee Bruck. Penn State staved off Michigan's run and had a three-point advantage, 19-16, when the Wolverines called a timeout. Two Michigan errors moved the Lions ahead by fie, 21-16, but after a second UM timeout the Wolverines were within three, 23-20. A kill from Hodge and a solo stuff by Balza secured a first set victory for the Nittany Lions.
A solo block by Wilson had Penn State on the board first in the second set, but a kill by Michigan's Megan Bower and a solo stuff by Juliana Paz had the Wolverines ahead, 2-1. The score tied three times before another Wilson block gave Penn State a 6-5 lead they would never relinquish. Brown followed the block with an ace and Glass registered a solo block of her own to increase the Lions' lead to 9-5. After a UM timeout, Alex Hunt posted a kill. However, Wilson notched a kill of her own to keep PSU ahead by four, 11-7. Penn State continued to gain momentum and had a 17-10 lead when the Wolverines called a second timeout. The Nittany Lions closed out the set with an 8-3 run for a 25-13 set two win. Wilson, Hodge and Brown all recorded kills in the run, while Wilson, Brown and Glass all registered blocks.
After grabbing the first point of the third set courtesy of a Michigan ball-handling error, Penn State would trail almost the entirety of the final set. The Wolverines had a six-point lead, 16-10, by midway through the frame. A Hodge kill sparked a 9-3 run by the Nittany Lions allowing Penn State to tie the set at 19-19. A UM attack error gave Penn State its first lead since the opening point of the set, but Michigan's Bower posted a kill to tie it up again at 20-20. The score tied twice more before back-to-back- Hodge kills gave the Nittany Lions a two-point advantage, 24-22. Minus an attack error, Penn State closed out the set with a score of 25-23.
The Nittany Lions await the NCAA Tournament postseason announcements on Sunday (ESPNews, 3 p.m. ET) to see whether they will remain at home for the First and Second Rounds or head out on the road. Tonight's match with Michigan will air tomorrow at 6 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
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.