No. 1 Women's Volleyball Sweeps Western Michigan, Faces Cal Saturday At Rec Hall
Dec. 12, 2008
University Park, Pa. - The top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team set a new NCAA record for consecutive games won with a three-set sweep of Western Michigan (25-17, 25-12, 25-19) Friday night at Rec Hall in front of 3,007 fans in the NCAA Regional Semifinal. The Nittany Lions improve to 35-0 in matches and 106-0 in games dating back to the fifth set win against Stanford in last season's National Championship. The 2003 Florida team held the previous NCAA games record at 105.
The win also sets up a rematch of last year's NCAA National Semifinal match with California, who swept Illinois in the first match Friday. The Nittany Lions and Golden Bears square off at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13 at Rec Hall in a Regional Final match that will be broadcast live on ESPNU. Tickets are available at the door and are $10 for adults, $7 for youth and students and $4 per person in groups of 20 or more, any age. All seating is general admission and first-come, first-served. The winner of the Penn State-Cal contest advances to the NCAA National Semifinals next Thursday in Omaha, Neb.
Against Western Michigan, junior outside hitter Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) led all players with 15 kills on .609 hitting as sophomore opposite Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) notched 10 kills - one shy of her season-best - on .667 hitting. Sophomore middle hitter Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) chipped in nine kills on .727 hitting as senior outside hitter Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) and senior middle hitter Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) each also contributed nine kills, on .300 and .438 hitting, respectively. As a team, Penn State hit .511 for the match.
Junior setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) dished out 48 assists and senior libero Roberta Holehouse (Joppa, Md.) picked up a match-high 16 digs - three shy of Western Michigan's team total of 19. Hodge added in 10 digs for her 27th career double-double while Glass and sophomore Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) each posted four digs to help Penn State record 42 team digs.
Penn State outblocked Western Michigan, 8.0 to 3.0, led by Brown and Wilson with four blocks each and Harmotto with three.
Holehouse and junior Kelsey Ream (State College, Pa.) each recorded an ace for the Lions in the win.
For Western Michigan, Michelle Moore led the squad with eight kills to be come the school's all-time career leader in kills. Katie Eberling posted six kills and Allyson Doyle notched five. Jillian Mitchell dished out 24 assists and Caitlin Strimel picked up five digs. Jaime Gotham led the team with three blocks.
Penn State jumped out to the early 7-1 lead to start the match on two overpass kills from Harmotto and Hodge, a Brown and Harmotto block and a Hodge put-away off a Glass feed. A Wilson and Brown block made it 13-5 and Lion kills from Fawcett, Hodge, Brown and Harmotto pushed the score to 17-8. A Glass kill extended the Lion lead to 21-11 before a Brown kill made it 24-14 and a Wilson ace ended the game, 25-17. Harmotto and Hodge each collected five kills in the game as Holehouse picked up five digs.
The Nittany Lions took the 7-4 lead in the second game behind a Fawcett kill but Western Michigan trimmed the gap to 8-6 on an Eberling ace. A Brown kill and Holehouse ace pushed Penn State up 11-7 and the teams traded points several times, with a Harmotto kill giving Penn State the 15-11 lead. Out of the media timeout, A Glass kill, Ream service ace and Fawcett kill pushed the Lion lead to 18-11 and Penn State continued the streak, rattling off seven of the next eight points - with six consecutive kills - to close out the game, 25-12. Fawcett provided five kills as Holehouse notched seven digs and Hodge added in five. As a team, Penn State attacked at a .533 clip in the stanza.
The third set remained even early on, with a Brown kill, a Brown and Harmotto block and a Harmotto kill giving Penn State the 11-7 lead. Western Michigan fought back to pull within two at 13-11 on a Moore kill but Hodge answered with one of her own to give Penn State the 14-11 lead. The Broncos clawed back to knot the game at 14-14 but consecutive kills from Wilson, Brown and Fawcett, along with a Wilson solo block, pushed the score to 18-14. The teams exchanged points several times, with a Hodge kill giving Penn State the 22-19 advantage before a Glass kill, a Bronco attack error and a Hodge put-away gave the Lions the game, 25-19. Hodge posted seven kills on an errorless nine swings to lead Penn State.
The winners of each of the four regional championships advance to the NCAA Semifinals, slated for Thursday, Dec. 18 at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb. The NCAA National Championship match is Saturday, Dec. 20.
For more information on the Penn State women's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State women's volleyball 2008 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets and The Outlets At Hershey.