|Follow PSU Women's Volleyball:||Follow @PennStateVBALL|
Dec. 6, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 2 Penn State (29-2) pushed past LIU Brooklyn (23-8) in straight-sets (25-21, 25-21, 25-14) Friday evening in Rec Hall to advance to the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. With the victory, the Nittany Lions improve to 28-5 in the first round of the event and 6-0 all-time against the Blackbirds.
Senior Ariel Scott led the offense with nine kills on .348 hitting, while also contributing three blocks. Senior Katie Slay posted eight kills on a squad-best .412 hitting clip, registering two digs and six blocks. Junior Nia Grant tallied six kills and one dig, while leading the Nittany Lions blocking unit with seven total blocks, including one solo stop. Two others recorded multi-block performances, including junior Micha Hancock, who had five and senior Deja McClendon, who had three blocks, seven kills and a match-high 10 digs. Hancock also totaled a team-high four aces.
Senior Maggie Harding made her third career appearance in an NCAA Tournament match for the Nittany Lions, totaling her first collegiate ace in tournament play. Trailing by three, 10-7, early in the first frame, Penn State used a 10-2 run, capped off by back-to-back blocks from Slay, McClendon and Hancock, to take control of a five-point lead, 17-12. The Blackbirds answered with a 4-1 spurt to shave the deficit to two, 18-16. Courtney smacked a pair of kills in between an LIU kill, forcing the Blackbirds to call timeout.
LIU Brooklyn came out the break with a kill to keep it within two, 20-18, but the Nittany Lions closed out the frame on a 5-3 streak for a 25-21 win the first set. Courtney totaled two kills during the strike, while Grant and Slay added one a piece.
Down early in the second set, 5-3, PSU delivered a quick 3-1 burst to knot the frame, 6-6. LIU broke up the rhythm with a kill, but Penn State responded with a 7-1 run to pull away by as many as four, 13-9. The Blackbirds followed with three unanswered points to arrive within one, 13-12, before Slay attempted to spark some momentum with a kill. The Blackbirds answered with two more points to tie it up, 14-14.
The two clubs continued to keep it tight, knotting the stanza two more times before the Nittany Lions broke open a 17-all tie with 5-2 run to claim a three-point lead, 22-19. LIU managed to close the gap to two, 22-20, but PSU followed with a 3-1 strike to secure a 25-21 win in set two and a 2-0 advantage in the match.
Knotted at 5-5 after the break, Penn State cracked open the tied frame with a 5-0 streak, led by McClendon, who totaled a kill and two blocks, including one solo stuff during the scoring streak. Maintaining a steady five-point advantage, the Nittany Lions surged ahead, using an 8-2 stretch to go up by as many as 11, 23-12. LIU Brooklyn attempted to mount a comeback with two quick points from a kill and a PSU error, but McClendon quickly thwarted the plan with a kill to make it set and match-point, 24-14. Harding served up an ace from the line to seal a 25-14 win in the third set and a straight-set victory.
With the triumph, Penn State advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and hosts Utah Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall. Fans can purchase tickets to tomorrow's match at the door in Rec Hall or by calling 1-800 NITTANY. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children ages 12 and under.