No. 2 Women¡¯s Volleyball Hooks No. 7 Texas, 3-2
Austin, Texas, September 8, 2006 ¨C The second-ranked Penn State women¡¯s volleyball team rallied from a two-game deficit to defeat No. 7 Texas in five games, 27-30, 28-30, 30-28, 36-34, 15-13, in front of a rowdy crowd of 2,371 Friday night in Austin, Texas. The Nittany Lions improved to 8-0 with the 2 hour, 47 minute match win while the Longhorns fell to 5-2. The match will be re-aired on CSTV several times, including Sunday, Sept. 10 at 5:00 p.m. ET.
¡°Tonight we had a great, competitive match against a very good opponent,¡± said Penn State head coach Russ Rose. ¡°I wanted our team to play hard and smart and do things together, and I think we did that tonight. [Texas freshman] Destinee [Hooker] is a world-class athlete and [Texas freshman] Ashley Engle and [Penn State freshman] Megan Hodge played with so much poise and awareness for the type of match, it was impressive.¡±
Penn State sophomore outside hitter Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) pounded 21 kills en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational while freshman outside hitter Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) and freshman setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) were also named to the all-tournament team.
Hodge recorded a career- and match-high 27 kills on .322, falling just shy of becoming the first Penn State player since the 2002 season to record 30 kills in a match. Senior Cassy Salyer (Aurora, Colo.) collected 11 kills while sophomore middle hitter Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) notched 10 and junior middle hitter Melissa Walbridge (Yardley, Pa.) posted eight kills with no errors to hit .615. Penn State hit .320 for the match while Texas attacked at a .223 clip.
Glass directed the offense with a career-high 63 assists, adding eight kills on .438 hitting and putting up 16 digs, good for second on the squad. Sophomore libero Roberta Holehouse (Joppa, Md.) provided a career-best 19 digs while Hodge notched her third double-double with 12 digs. Senior Ashley Fidler (Wauconda, Ill.) matched her career-high, also recording 12 digs.
Penn State dominated the blocking game, racking up an astounding 21.0 team blocks while Texas collected six. Walbridge recorded a career-high 12 blocks, falling three shy of the Penn State record for blocks in a match. Glass tied her career mark with seven blocks as Fawcett and Harmotto each posted six blocks, a career-high for Fawcett. Salyer chipped in four stuffs as Hodge posted two.
Ashley Engle led Texas with 26 kills as Dariam Acevedo and Destinee Hooker each contributed 21. Michelle Moriarty dished out 78 assists as five Longhorn players reached double-digit kills, led by Alyson Jennings with 20. Jennifer Todd led the squad with three blocks and Kiley Hall tallied a match-high four service aces.
Texas went up 3-1 to start the decisive fifth game before Penn State claimed the next four points on a Fawcett kill, a Salyer and Walbridge block, a Hodge overpass kill and a Fidler ace to make it 5-3. Following a Texas timeout, a solo Walbridge stuff extended the cushion to three at 6-3 and the teams traded service errors before another Hodge overpass kill and a Texas attack error put Penn State up 9-5. But the Longhorns claimed the next two points on a kill and ace to pull within two at 9-7 before a Salyer kill and a Hodge kill off of great Holehouse defense put the Lions ahead 11-7. Two Texas kills forced a Penn State timeout and a Lion attack error out of the break trimmed the lead to one at 11-10. A Longhorn service error and a Harmotto and Glass block made it 13-10 and a Fawcett kill gave Penn State match point at 14-11. But Texas responded with three consecutive points, including a kill and an ace, to pull within one at 14-13 and force a Penn State timeout. Out of the break, a Texas serve sailed long to end the game, 15-13, in favor of the Nittany Lions.
Texas came out of the gates on fire, going up 6-1 on a service ace. A Salyer kill halted the run and Penn State slowly chipped away at the deficit, aided by back to back kills by Salyer and Hodge to make the score 9-5 in favor of the Longhorns. The squads traded kills four times before consecutive Texas kills going into the television timeout gave the Longhorns the 15-9 lead. Out of the break, Texas scored three of the next five points to force a Penn State timeout, down 18-11. A Longhorn service error and a block from Fawcett and Harmotto gave Penn State the momentum to trim the hole to five at 20-15, capped by a Harmotto kill and a triple block from Walbridge, Glass and Fawcett. But the Longhorns maintained the advantage, using four kills to aid them in taking the 26-18 lead. A Hodge kill and two Texas attack errors pulled the Lions to within five at 26-21. A block by Glass and Harmotto and a Brown service ace trimmed the Longhorn lead to three at 26-23. But the squads traded points four times to give Texas the game at 30-27. Hodge led Penn State with seven kills in the first game as the Nittany Lions attacked at a .364 clip with six team blocks.
Game two started even from the get-go, with eight ties before a Texas kill and Penn State attack error gave Texas the 10-8 lead. The Longhorns maintained the slim advantage, with a Fawcett and Walbridge block pulling Penn State to within one at 16-15. The Longhorns claimed four of the next five points to go up 20-16 and force a Nittany Lion timeout. Out of the break, the teams traded service errors and two Harmotto kill aided Penn State in pulling within three at 22-19. A Texas kill and Penn State attack error pushed the Longhorn lead to five at 24-19 and kills from Hodge, Fawcett and Walbridge forced a Texas timeout with it up 25-22. Three Texas attack errors knotted the game at 25-25 but the Longhorns responded with a kill and a block to take the 27-25 lead. A Glass kill brought Penn State to within one at 27-26 and the teams traded points twice before a Texas block ended the game, 30-28, in favor of the Longhorns.
A Walbridge kill following a great rally by both teams put Penn State up 6-3 to start the third game. A Harmotto solo block maintained the Lion lead at 8-6 but Texas fought back to tie the score at 8-8 on consecutive kills. Three ties ensued before two Longhorn errors and Penn State kills from Fawcett, Walbridge and Salyer gave the Nittany Lions the 15-11 lead. A block from Harmotto and Glass extended the Penn State lead to 18-13 and a solo Glass block made it 19-15. A Hodge kill made it 23-20 to keep Penn State on top and back to back blocks, one from Fawcett and Walbridge and another from Walbridge and Salyer, kept the Lions ahead, 28-26. The teams traded kills twice, with a Hodge kill giving Penn State the win, 30-28.
Texas took the 4-2 lead on an ace to start the fourth game before Penn State fought back to knot the score at 5-5 aided by a Hodge kill and a Longhorn attack error. Four ties ensued before Texas grabbed the 11-9 advantage on a kill and Lion error. Back to back Fawcett bombs tied the game at 11-11 and again five times the teams knotted the score before a Penn State service error and a Texas kill put the Longhorns up 18-16. Texas maintained the advantage, taking the 23-19 lead on a consecutive kill and block. Out of a Penn State timeout, the Nittany Lions rallied behind Fawcett and Salyer kills, scoring three of the next five points to pull within three at 25-22. Texas took the four-point advantage at 26-22 on a kill before a Longhorn attack error and a Holehouse serve brought Penn State to within two at 26-24. Two Texas kills gave it the 28-24 lead and out of a Nittany Lion timeout, two Fawcett kills and a Longhorn ball-handling error forced a Texas timeout with Lions within one at 28-27. A Salyer and Walbridge block out of the break knotted the score at 28-28 and a Penn State ball-handling error gave Texas match point before another Fawcett kill tied the game at 29-29. A huge Hodge and Walbridge block turned the advantage to Penn State, 30-29, but Texas responded with a kill to tie the game at 30-30. A Hodge kill was quickly followed by a Lion service error and another Hodge kill preceded a Longhorn putaway to tie the game at 32-32. A Harmotto kill gave the Lions the 33-32 advantage but a Penn State service error and a Texas block swung the momentum to the Longhorns, 34-33. A Fawcett kill evened the score before two blocks by Walbridge and Glass gave Penn State the game, 36-34.
The Nittany Lions host their final preseason tournament next weekend when they welcome Tennessee State, Lehigh and Miami (Ohio) to Rec Hall for the Penn State Classic on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15-16. Penn State and Miami (Ohio) square off at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.
For more information on the Penn State women¡¯s volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.
Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational All-Tournament Team: