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Dec. 18, 2009
TAMPA, Fla. - With a 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-18) triumph against No. 12 Hawai'i (32-3), the top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team (37-0) advances to the 2009 NCAA National Title match for the third straight year. Head coach Russ Rose became just the third Division I women's volleyball coach to reach the 1,000 career wins milestone with the triumph. The Nittany Lions have now won 101 consecutive matches.
The Nittany Lions take on the University of Texas on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. in the NCAA National Championship match. Texas defeated Minnesota in three sets earlier Thursday evening to secure a spot in the title match.
Rose ranks third on the all-time careers wins list. He sits behind Hawai'i head coach Dave Shoji, who ranks second with 1,016 career wins and UCLA's Andy Banachowski, who has 1,106 career victories.
Three Nittany Lions posted double-digit kills. Senior Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) led the squad with 12, while juniors Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) and Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) had 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Senior setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) dished out 41 helpers and attacked at a team-leading .692 with nine kills on 13 errorless swings.
On defense, junior libero Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) had a career-high 19 digs, while Hodge posted 15 and Glass had 11. Junior Fatima Balza (Merida, Venezuela) led the Lions with nine total blocks, while Brown finished second on the team with seven total. Wilson also contributed six in the match.
The Nittany Lions attacked at an uncharacteristically low .276 clip. PSU registered 54 kills, 50 assists, three aces, a season-high 66 digs and had 15.0 total team blocks. Penn State held the Rainbow Wahine to a .135 attack percentage and zero team blocks. The Wahine totaled 53 kills, 50 assists, three aces and 75 saves.
Hodge put the Lions on the board first with a kill, but the Wahine weren't far behind thanks to a kill by Aneli Cubi-Otineru. UH took a 2-1 lead with an ace, but PSU answered back and took a 4-3 lead after a kill from Wilson and a stuff by Balza and Brown. The Nittany Lions increased their lead to four, 10-6, as the Wahine registered two errors and D'Errico had an ace. UH fought back and took a 12-11 lead courtesy of three kills by Stephanie Ferrell and an Amber Kaufman ace. The score would tie five times before the Nittany Lions regained control with a 19-17 edge. The lead was shortlived as two PSU errors and a Hawaii kill put the Wahine ahead, 20-19. A Penn State timeout failed to slow UH and the Lions soon trailed by three, 22-19. Coach Rose called a second timeout and Wilson put down a kill to put the Lions within two, 22-20. Kills from Cubi-Otineru and Kaufman made it set point Hawai'i, but a Hodge kill and a UH error had the Lions within one, 24-23. However, Kanani Danielson closed out the first set in favor of the Wahine, 25-23. It was just the second time this season that Nittany Lions had lost the first set.
The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 7-3 lead in set two. The Wahine worked to within three, but Penn State was soon up by six, 11-5, after two Dorton kills and back-to-back Nittany Lion blocks. Penn State went on a 6-3 run capped off by three straight blocks. Balza joined forces with Brown in two and Dorton in the other. Despite leading by nine, 17-8, UH didn't back off. The Wahine answered back with a 9-5 run, capped off by five straight kills to trail by only five, 22-17. Glass and Hodge put two down kills to make it set point for PSU. UH's Brittany Hewitt managed one final kill for the Wahine, but a UH service error secured the set for the Nittany Lions, 25-18.
Penn State took a 5-1 lead to start off the third set. Glass opened play with a kill before teaming with Wilson for a block. Wilson kept the early run going with a kill before Hodge split a Hawai'i block for a kill of her own. The Wahine came within two, 5-3, but the Lions kept Hawai'i at bay with another Hodge kill and a Balza/Brown block. Hawai'i then came within four, 10-6, of the Lions, but it was the closest the Wahine would come for the remainder of the set. PSU worked back up to six-point advantage after kills from Hodge and Glass. Errors began to plague the Wahine and Penn State surged ahead with a 20-11 lead. Despite kills from Kewitt and Danielson, UH was unable to cut down the Lions' formidable lead. Dorton put down a kill before Glass and Wilson put up a monster block to close out the third set, 25-15.
Wilson opened the fourth set with a kill before Danielson and Kaufman put down kills to give the Wahine their first lead since set one. The Lions tied the set twice before two Hawai'i errors and a joint stuff by Balza and Brown had Penn State leading, 6-3. The Lions stayed in control and secured some much-needed breathing room, taking a 14-8 lead, after kills by Wilson and Glass and a UH error. The Wahine went on a 6-3 run to cut Penn State's lead to just three, 17-14, but a Penn State timeout allowed the Nittany Lions to regroup. Wilson teamed up with both Brown and Dorton for two blocks before sophomore Megan Shifflett (Falls Church, Va.) recorded an ace and Glass tallied a kill for a 22-15 lead. The Wahine managed three additional points before a Wilson kill and a UH service error gave Penn State a 25-18 fourth set victory.
Livestats will be available at GoPSUsports.com and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Fans can listen to the match with Dean DeVore and Craig Dyer on Newsradio 103 WRSC-FM (103.1FM) in State College and surrounding areas and around the world for free on GoPSUsports.com. You will be able to email comments and questions during the broadcast to Dean and Craig at PSUVolleyball@gmail.com. In addition, fans can follow the Nittany Lions' trip to Tampa on Twitter, by following @PSUVolleyball or Susanpsusports.
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.
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