Back-to-Back National Champions! Nittany Lions Down Stanford, 3-0, to Take the Title
Dec. 20, 2008
OMAHA, Neb. - The top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team capped a record-setting season for its second consecutive NCAA title Saturday night with a three-game win over No. 2 Stanford (25-20, 26-24, 25-23) at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb. The Nittany Lions finish the 2008 campaign with a perfect 38-0 record, only the fourth team ever in Division I women's volleyball history to finish the season with an unblemished slate. Long Beach State (36-0 in 1998), Nebraska (34-0 in 2000) and USC (35-0 in 2003) previously accomplished the feat. Penn State finished the season with a 114-2 individual game record and pushed its current NCAA-record match winning streak to 64 dating back to a five-game loss to Stanford on Sept. 15, 2007.
Penn State becomes just the sixth team in history to win back-to-back NCAA Championships, joining Hawaii (1982-83), Pacific (1985-86), UCLA (1990-91), Stanford (1996-97) and USC (2002-03). The Nittany Lion volleyball programs also become only the third school to have its men's and women's programs capture their respective championships in the same calendar year, as the Penn State men captured their championship in May. Penn State joins UCLA (1984) and Stanford (1997) as the only programs in history to accomplish the feat. Stanford (1996-97) and Penn State (2007-08) are the only two to win both titles in the same academic year. No program has ever captured four consecutive volleyball titles between the men's and the women's teams.
"I don't think it was the prettiest match to determine the national championship, but it was a match that was played very hard by both teams," said Penn State head coach Russ Rose, the 2008 AVCA National Coach of the Year. "I thought we hung in there defensively and gave ourselves opportunities for a chance for Megan to take big swings at the end. I thought it was a group effort in a lot of areas. It certainly wasn't a match that had the same energy from the match a couple of nights ago. That one had the significance to get us here. Tonight's has special significance, especially for the seniors."
Junior Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) was named the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive season, joining Lauren Cacciamani as the only Penn State players to accomplish the feat. Senior outside hitter Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) and junior setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) joined Hodge on the all-tournament team, along with Texas' Destinee Hooker, Nebraska's Jordan Larson and Stanford's Alix Klineman and Cynthia Barboza.
Hodge led all players with 16 kills against Stanford as Fawcett posted 10, sophomore opposite Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) recorded nine kills and senior middle hitter Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) tallied eight kills.
Glass dished out 40 assists in the contest as senior libero Roberta Holehouse (Joppa, Md.) capped an outstanding championship weekend with a match-high 18 digs, Hodge added in her second double-double in as many matches with 14 digs and Fawcett tallied her ninth career double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs. Glass chipped in eight digs as sophomore defensive specialist Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) notched eight digs. Penn State outdug Stanford, 64-54, and ended the year outdigging all but one opponent.
Penn State claimed the blocking battle, 11.5 to 11.0, led by Harmotto with six and Brown with five. Sophomore middle hitter Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) contributed four stuffs as Glass, Hodge and Fawcett all chipped in two stuffs.
The Nittany Lions also took the match from behind the serving line, recording five aces with only four errors while the Cardinal committed six errors without an ace. Fawcett, Glass, Hodge, Holehouse and junior Kelsey Ream (State College, Pa.) all posted one ace in the win.
For Stanford, Alix Klineman led the way with 15 kills as Cynthia Barboza notched 11 kills and Foluke Akinradewo recorded eight kills.
The match featured nine 2008 AVCA All-Americans, with Penn State's Fawcett, Glass, Harmotto and Hodge and Stanford's Klineman, Barboza and Akinradewo earning First Team honors and Lions Brown and Wilson picking up Second Team accolades. The contest also showcased the last two AVCA National Players of the Year in Fawcett (2008) and Akinradewo (2007).
Stanford took the 3-0 lead to start the match but a Harmotto and Brown block along with two Harmotto kills helped pull Penn State within two at 6-4. The Cardinal maintained the lead, going up 12-7 before a Hodge kill trimmed the gap to four at 12-8. Following a Lion error and a Stanford kill, two Cardinal errors pulled Penn State within four at 14-10. The squads traded kills and a Hodge ace trimmed the gap to three at 15-12. Following a Lion attack error, a Harmotto kill, a Stanford attack error that was just a bit outside and a Fawcett rollshot kill to the middle of the floor pulled Penn State to within one at 16-15 and forced a Stanford timeout. Out of the break, an ace from Ream tied the game at 16-16 and after a Lion attack error, great Penn State defense aided in a Fawcett kill to again knot the score at 17-17. Another Stanford attack error along with a Glass ace pushed the Lions ahead 19-17 to cause another Cardinal timeout. Out of the break, a Fawcett and Wilson block made it 20-17 and the teams traded points twice, before a Brown cross-court kill put Penn State up 23-19. Harmotto followed with an overpass kill and after a Stanford kill, a Hodge and Harmotto block gave the Nittany Lions the game, 25-20. Harmotto led the way with five kills and two blocks as Hodge added in four kills.
This time it was Penn State who jumped out to the early lead, going up 5-1 aided by a Fawcett kill and ace, a Holehouse ace and a Harmotto and Brown block. But the Cardinal claimed four of the next six points to pull within two at 7-5 capped by a block and a kill. The squads exchanged points three times before a Stanford block pulled it within one at 10-9. A Fawcett kill and Cardinal attack error gave Penn State the 12-9 advantage but a Stanford kill and block again trimmed the Lion lead to one at 12-11. The squads traded points before a Cardinal kill and block put Stanford up 14-13. Penn State kills from Brown and Hodge put the Lions ahead 15-14 heading into the television timeout. The teams traded kills twice and a Wilson block made it 18-17 before kills from Hodge and Fawcett put the Lions up 20-18. The teams traded points before a Brown kill gave Penn State a two-point lead. Following a score discrepancy, a Stanford attack error put Penn State ahead 22-19 and the teams traded points, with a Cardinal service error pushing the Lions up 24-22. A Stanford kill and a Lion attack error evened the score 24-24 before kills from Fawcett and Hodge gave Penn State the game, 26-24.
A monster Harmotto and Brown block gave the Nittany Lions the 3-1 lead in the third game but a Stanford kill and Lion attack error tied the game at 3-3. Penn State kills from Brown and Hodge along with a Fawcett backrow kill and a Harmotto slide kill pushed the Lions up 7-4. The squads traded blocks before a monster stuff from Wilson and Glass gave Penn State the 9-5 advantage. A Brown kill made it 11-6 and consecutive Hodge kills pushed the Lions ahead 14-10. The teams exchanged points before a Cardinal block and kill trimmed the Lion lead to two at 15-13. After three trades of points to give Penn State the 18-16 advantage, a Brown and Wilson block made it 19-16. A Stanford kill was quickly followed by a Hodge kill to the middle of the floor, and a Fawcett kill out of the backrow pushed the score to 21-17 and forced a Stanford timeout. After a Stanford kill, two Hodge put-aways made it 23-18. Stanford responded with three kills to pull within two at 23-21 and forced a Penn State timeout. Out of the break, the Cardinal recorded another kill to trim the lead to one at 23-22 but Hodge responded with a cross-court kill that clipped the line to make it 24-22. Stanford recorded a kill before a Fawcett kill off the block ended the game, 25-23.
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.
2008 ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
1. Destinee Hooker, OH, University of Texas
Most Outstanding Player: Megan Hodge, OH, Penn State University