Nittany Lions Sweep Gators, Advance to Regional Final
Dec. 11, 2009
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The top-seeded Penn State women's volleyball team (35-0) won their 99th straight match Friday night with a 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-21) victory against the 16th-seeded Florida Gators (25-6). Penn State advances to the Gainesville Regional Final tomorrow night against ninth-seeded California. Action is set for 4 p.m. in Florida's Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
The Nittany Lions were guided by seniors Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) and Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) in the victory. Hodge finished the night with 20 kills and 10 digs, while Glass dished out 45 assists and had five kills on seven errorless swings. Junior Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) finished second on the team with 11 kills on .440 hitting, while both freshman Darcy Dorton (Muncie, Ind.) and junior Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) had nine kills apiece.
In addition to Hodge, three other Nittany Lions had double-digit digs. Junior libero Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) led the team with 14, Brown totaled 13 and Quilico registered 12. At the net, junior Fatima Balza (Merida, Venezuela) led the team in blocking with four total.
Penn State posted 55 kills while attacking at a .454 clip against the Gators. The team totaled 60 digs and 6.0 total team blocks in the match. Florida finished the night with 33 kills on .189 hitting. The Gators recorded 40 digs and just 2.0 total team blocks.
The Gators were on the board first, but the Nittany Lions took an early 2-1 lead after a kill by Wilson and a Florida attack error. Florida tied it at 2-2, but back-to-back Hodge kills gave Penn State a 4-2 lead. Hodge posted another kill and teamed up with Balza for a block to move the Lions ahead, 6-3. UF fought back to within one, 6-5, thanks to a kill from Lauren Bledsoe and a Kelly Murphy stuff, but a Hodge, Wilson and Brown all put down kills to give the Nittany Lions a 10-6 lead. Following a Florida timeout, Penn State increased its lead to seven, 15-8, courtesy of kills from Brown and Dorton and three straight by Wilson. The Nittany Lions closed out the set on a 10-4 run, holding the Gators to just 12 points. Hodge and Dorton each had three kills in the run and Wilson capped off the set with one of her own for the 25-12 first set win.
Penn State jumped out to a 5-1 lead in set two. Dorton opened play with a monster kill before Wilson and Glass contributed a kill apiece. PSU's blocking also picked up as Glass joined forces with Wilson and Hodge with Balza for two early stuffs. Florida's Callie Rivers attempted to cut off Penn State's scoring run with a kill, but the Lions were soon up by seven, 9-2, after kills by Glass and Brown and another block from Hodge and Balza. Florida fought to within four, 12-8, but three consecutive PSU kills had the Lions advantage back at seven, 15-8. The Nittany Lions didn't back off and kills from Hodge and Dorton and a Gator error put Penn State up by eight, 18-10. After a Gator timeout, Kristy Jaeckel tallied a kill for UF and Penn State had three straight errors to bring Florida within five, 22-1 7. However, Brown and Glass each notched kills for the Lions and a Florida service error would secure the second set for PSU, 25-18.
The third set started out close with the two squads tying five times before the Gators took a two-point lead, 7-5, on a Murphy kill and a Bledsoe ace. The Nittany Lions trailed until Hodge spiked a kill down the left side line to tie the set at 9-9. An error by Florida's Jaeckel put the Nittany Lions in the lead, 10-9. Back-to-back Hodge kills increased PSU's lead to three, 12-9, and sending Florida to the bench for a timeout. After the break the Gators earned the chance to serve thanks to a PSU attack error, but Hodge managed to put down to kills to give Penn State a 15-10 advantage. The Nittany Lions maintained at least a four-point lead until UF tallied four points in a row to come within three, 22-19. Penn State called a timeout to slow Florida's momentum. The Nittany Lions scored the next point after the timeout, but the Gators answered right back with a kill from Bledsoe. Hodge put the Lions in match-point position with two kills before Brown closed out the match with a kill to send Penn State on to the Regional Final.
The Nittany Lions take on Cal on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 4 p.m. in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The match will be aired live on ESPNU. Live stats and live audio will be available via links at GoPSUsports.com. Dean DeVore and Craig Dyer's audio can also be heard on Newsradio 103 WRSC-FM (103.1).
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.