No. 2 Penn State Women¡¯s Volleyball Closes Out Big Ten Season Undefeated
Ann Arbor, Mich., Nov. 26, 2005 - The second-ranked Penn State women¡¯s volleyball team defeated Michigan in three games (30-21, 30-13, 30-27) Saturday night to close out the Big Ten season with a perfect 20-0 record, also improving to 29-2 for the season. The perfect conference mark is only the sixth time in the Big Ten since 1985 that a school has recorded an undefeated mark. The last occasion was 1999, when the eventual national-champion Nittany Lions accomplished the feat.
With the win, Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics closes out an unprecedented fall sports season in the Big Ten. Among the five Nittany Lion conference champions in women¡¯s volleyball, football, field hockey and men¡¯s and women¡¯s soccer, Penn State has amassed a fall Big Ten record of 49-1 (98%).
Freshman outside hitter Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) led the Lions against Michigan with 15 kills on .423 hitting as sophomore Melissa Walbridge (Yardley, Pa.) notched 12 kills on an errorless 21 attempts to hit .571. Junior Cassy Salyer (Aurora, Colo.) posted nine kills as sophomore Kate Price (Fraser, Mich.) chipped in seven. As a team, Penn State hit .351 while holding Michigan to attacking at a .171 clip.
With her 10th assist of the match, senior setter Sam Tortorello (Shorewood, Ill.) passed four-time All-American Bonnie Bremner (1996-99) to move into second on Penn State¡¯s career assist list with 5,942 career assists. Michelle Jaworski (1987-90) holds the overall mark of 6,596.
Senior libero Kaleena Walters (Mt. Lebanon, Pa.) led all players with 15 digs as Walbridge racked up a career-high three aces.
Penn State outblocked Michigan 8.0 to 4.0, led by freshman Laura Holloway (Barrington, Ill.) with a career-high five as Salyer chipped in four.
A Salyer kill put Penn State up 9-3 to start the match before a Fawcett and Walbridge block forced a Michigan timeout at 15-8. Consecutive kills from Walbridge and Price pushed the Lion lead to seven at 19-12 before a Holloway kill and block made it 25-17. Two more Holloway kills extended the advantage to 27-18 before a Salyer kill ended the game, 30-21.
Two kills from Walbridge and one each from Salyer and Fawcett started the second game off for the Nittany Lions and a block from Walbridge and Holloway extended the lead to 7-2. Kills from Salyer and Tortorello and consecutive Michigan attack errors made it 12-5. Out of a Wolverine timeout, a Price kill and a block from Salyer and Tortorello pushed it to 14-5 before back to back kills from Fawcett and Price made it 19-12. Following a Michigan kill, a Wolverine service error and a Salyer overpass kill sparked an 11-0 Penn State run to end the game, 30-13. Within the run, Walbridge recorded two aces, Salyer and Price tallied one block and Salyer and Holloway posted two blocks.
A Tortorello kill and Michigan attack error put the Nittany Lions up 4-1 in the third game but the Wolverines fought back to tie the game at 7-7 on a kill and block. The game remained even, with a Fawcett overpass kill putting Penn State up 14-13 and four Michigan attacking errors, a block from Holloway and Salyer and a Walbridge ace giving the Nittany Lions the 23-17 advantage. But the Wolverines went on a run of their own, scoring the next four points to force a Penn State timeout with the Lions up, 23-21. Out of the break, a Michigan service error halted the run and a Fawcett kill made it 25-21. The Wolverines scored three of the next four points but a Tortorello kill broke the momentum and made it 27-24. A Michigan kill was quickly followed by a Fawcett put-away and the teams traded points, with a Walbridge kill making it 29-26 before a Walbridge kill ended the game, 30-27.
The Nittany Lions will now await the NCAA Selection Show, set for Sunday, Nov. 27 between 2:30-3:30 p.m. ET on ESPNews. Penn State could potentially host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament on Dec. 2-3. Rec Hall is also one of four pre-determined sites for the NCAA Regional Championships, to be held Dec. 9-10. Tickets for the event are on sale now.