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Dec. 13, 2008
University Park, Pa. - The top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team swept No. 8 Cal (25-21, 25-21, 25-17) in front of 4,036 boisterous fans at Rec Hall Saturday to advance to the NCAA National Semifinals for the seventh time in program history. The Nittany Lions will take on fourth-seed Nebraska on Thursday, Dec. 18 at 9:00 p.m. ET at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb. That contest will be broadcast live on ESPN2. The other NCAA National Semifinal will feature Stanford and Texas, the second and third seeds in the tournament.
Junior outside hitter Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) was named the Most Outstanding Player of the University Park Regional Championship and was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.), Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio), Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) and Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) along with Cal's Am'ra Solomon and Illinois' Laura DeBruler.
Hodge led all players against Cal with a match-high 13 kills on .370 hitting. Senior outside hitter Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) posted nine kills, sophomore middle hitter Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) notched six kills on .500 hitting while senior middle hitter Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) and sophomore opposite Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) both contributed five kills. As a team, Penn State attacked at a .256 clip.
Glass directed the offense with 37 assists and, along with senior libero Roberta Holehouse (Joppa, Md.), led the squad with six digs. Sophomore defensive specialist Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) chipped in five digs while Fawcett and Hodge both picked up four digs. The Lions outdug the Bears, 26-23.
Penn State also claimed the blocking battle, 13.0 to 6.0. Harmotto led all players with six stuffs as Wilson posted five blocks, Brown and Glass both added in four blocks and Fawcett tallied two stuffs.
Holehouse and D'Errico both provided two aces in the win as junior Kelsey Ream (State College, Pa.) chipped in one.
For Cal, Am'ra Solomon and Mindi Wiley each provided eight kills as Tarah Murrey chipped in seven kills and Hana Cutura posted six kills. Carli Lloyd dished out 26 assists and Cutura tallied seven digs to lead the squad. Cutura, Lloyd, Wiley and Kat Reilly all recorded two blocks in the match.
The Golden Bears came out of the gates on fire, taking the 7-1 lead. A Hodge kill halted the run but Wiley responded with a kill of her own. The teams traded points and a Glass kill, a Cal attack error and a Brown and Wilson block pulled the Lions within three at 9-6. The Bears took the next four points to take the 13-6 advantage. The squads traded points four times before a Harmotto kill and solo block trimmed the Cal lead to four at 16-12. After two more exchanges of points, a Wiley and Lloyd block gave the Bears the 19-13 lead. Out of a Penn State timeout, three Cal attack errors and a Wilson and Brown trimmed the gap to 19-17 and the teams traded kills before a Hodge kill and solo block knotted the game at 20-20. A Cutura kill gave the Bears the 21-20 lead but a Bear service error and a Holehouse ace swung the momentum to the Lions, 22-21 for its first lead of the night. Out of a Cal timeout, a Brown kill, a Bear attack error and another Brown kill gave the game to Penn State, 25-21. Brown led the squad with four kills in the first set.
Penn State used the momentum gained in the first set to take the 8-4 lead in the second game, courtesy of a Wilson kill. Putaways from Harmotto and Fawcett along with a D'Errico ace pushed the Lion lead to 14-9. A Fawcett kill and Ream ace kept the energy going and gave Penn State the 17-12 lead. Cal kept the score close, pulling within two at 20-18 aided by a Lion attack error but a Hodge kill and a Harmotto and Glass block pushed Penn State up 22-18. A Hodge kill made it 23-19 before a Wilson kill ended the game, 25-21. Hodge posted five kills in the set while Fawcett contributed four.
The third set was a back and forth affair early on, with a Wilson and Brown block putting Penn State up 9-7. Kills from Hodge and Harmotto made it 13-10 before another Hodge put-away along with a Harmotto and Glass block gave Penn State the 16-11 advantage. A Hodge put-away and a solo Fawcett block pushed the lead to 20-13. Consecutive Fawcett kills put Penn State ahead 22-15 before a Wilson and Brown block made it 23-15. Lion kills from Fawcett and Hodge ended the game for Penn State, 25-17. Hodge collected five kills on an errorless nine swings in the final stanza as Fawcett added in four kills.
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.