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Dec. 11, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 4 seed Penn State women's volleyball team earned a spot in the 2010 NCAA Women's Volleyball National Semifinals with a 3-1 (25-19, 25-18, 23-25, 25-17) victory against 12th-seeded Duke (27-7). The Nittany Lions will face with winner of the Texas/Purdue matchup on Thursday, Dec. 16 in Kansas City, Mo.
Penn State has now won 94 consecutive matches at home in Rec Hall and 22 straight postseason matches. The Nittany Lions own a 47-3 record in NCAA Tournament matches held in Rec Hall and a 70-25 overall record in NCAA Tournament action.
The Nittany Lions are making their ninth trip to the National Semifinals. Penn State also advanced in 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 199, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The Lions have earned four NCAA titles, including the last three straight.
Senior Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) was named the University Park Regional Most Outstanding Player, while senior Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) and sophomore Kristin Carpenter (Mechanicsville, Va.) were named to the all-tournament team. Joining the three Nittany Lions on the all-tournament team are Oklahoma's Brianne Barker, Missouri's Paola Ampudia and Duke's Sophia Dunworth and Kellie Catanach.
Freshman Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) led the Nittany Lions and tied her career-high with 20 kills. She was also one of five players with double-digit digs with 10. Brown finished second on the team with 16 kills and Wilson posted 12. Carpenter dished out 45 assists and contributed 13 digs, while senior libero Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) had a team-best 18 digs. Wilson was a wall at the net with eight total blocks and Brown was second on the squad with seven, including two solo. Both McClendon and senior Fatima Balza (Merida, Venezuela) put up five blocks.
Penn State hit .272 against the Blue Devils and totaled 60 kills, five aces, 75 digs and 17.0 total team blocks. Duke hit .135 and finished the match with 45 kills, five aces, 75 digs and 7.0 team blocks.
The Nittany Lions opened the match taking a 10-6 lead after a 5-0 run that forced a Duke timeout. McClendon had two kills and a block in the run. The Blue Devils fought back to within two, 11-9, but 5-1 Penn State run had the Nittany Lions leading by six and Duke calling a second timeout. After a kill by Duke's Becci Burling, kills by Brown and Balza moved the Lions in front by seven, 18-11. Two points by the Blue Devils cut the gap to five, 18-13, but an error and a Wilson kill had the Lions back ahead by seven, 20-13. The two teams went back and forth with two kills from McClendon and one from Brown pushing the Nittany Lions to a 25-19 set one win.
Duke tallied the first two points in set two, but Penn State used a 7-2 run for a 7-4 lead. The Blue Devils kept it close until a 3-0 run put PSU up by four, 15-11. Duke fought back to knot the score at 15-15 before a 5-0 run by the Nittany Lions had Penn State leading by five, 20-15. Kills by Brown and Wilson kept the Blue Devils at bay and forced Duke to call a timeout with PSU leading, 22-16. Despite a Penn State attack error, a Duke error and two McClendon kills secured set two for PSU, 25-18.
The third stanza started out close with the score tying nine times before Penn State grabbed a two-point lead, 11-9, on a block and kill from McClendon. The Blue Devils fought back to tie the score at 12-12 and the score tied twice more before a kill by Duke's Amanda Robertson put Duke in front by one, 15-14. A Duke ace and PSU error increased their lead to three, 17-14. A triple block by Balza, Brown and junior Katie Kabbes (Raleigh, N.C.) slowed the Blue Devils momentarily before three straight Duke points had the Blue Devils leading by five, 20-15. Penn State used a 4-1 run to cut the gap to two, 21-19, and force a Duke timeout. A Brown putdown had the Lions within one, but two Duke kills would keep the Blue Devils up by two, 23-21. A Duke service error and a McClendon kill allowed the Lions to tie it up one final time at 23-23, but back-to-back kills by Burling gave Duke a 25-23 third set victory.
Penn State dominated the fourth and final set from the start. The Nittany Lions leapt out to a 5-1 lead and used two kills and an ace by Brown to help increase the lead to six, 9-3. Following a Duke timeout, Penn State's lead grew to double-digit with kills from McClendon, Carpenter and Wilson. Penn State's lead hovered around 10 points until two straight Duke errors had the Nittany Lions lead at 12, 21-9. Despite a PSU error and a Duke ace, two Penn State blocks and a Wilson kill put the Lions in match-point position. The Blue Devils held the Lions at match-point for three straight points before McClendon closed out the match with a monster kill for a 25-17 fourth set win.
The third set, 25-23, loss was the first set the Nittany Lions have lost in a Regional Finals match since Dec. 9, 2006 when Penn State lost 3-1 (27-30, 24-30, 30-28, 26-30) to Washington.
Penn State has increased its home winning streak to 94 consecutive matches. The total tops NCAA Division I women's volleyball records.
The Nittany Lions are making their ninth trip to the NCAA National Semifinals. Penn State also advanced in 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
For more information on the Penn State women's volleyball team, please visit GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State women's volleyball 2010 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets and The Outlets at Hershey.