Penn State Tops the Hokies to Move On to Regional Semifinals
Dec. 5, 2010
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Penn State extended its home-match winning streak to 92 consecutive matches with the win over Virginia Tech. Next weekend, Rec Hall will again be the host to tournament play as the Nittany Lions take on Oklahoma at 7 p.m. on Friday in the regional semifinals.
Senior middle hitter Blair Brown led the team with 11 kills, followed by fellow senior middle hitter Arielle Wilson who had eight of her own. Freshman outside hitter Deja McClendon was strong on the outside with seven of her own kills, as well.
Sophomore setter Kristin Carpenter guided the offense with 30 assists and put down the team's only service ace all evening. Senior defensive specialist and libero Alyssa D'Errico had a quiet night with just six digs, due to the tough serving and big blocking game that was going on at the net.
For Penn State, putting up big blocks against the Hokies made a world of a difference. The Nittany Lions recorded 15 total team blocks as Brown led the team with six total blocks, two of them were her own solo blocks. Freshman middle hitter Ariel Scott attributed to five blocks, and senior middle hitter Fatima Balza had five, as well.
The block was one of the most effective things that the Nittany Lions could use against a tough-serving and quick Virginia Tech offense. Penn State's defense held the Hokies to a .031 hitting percentage in the second set, and just a .154 average in the third and final set.
Penn State head coach Russ Rose said that the block was key to the evening's match, and that he thought his team did a nice job executing the skill. Rose noted that in order to beat the Hokies, he knew his team was going to have to be tight at the net.
"We needed to block because I didn't think we would dig," said Rose. "They run such a fast offense behind the block that in the second game we weren't serving well and their fans were making a lot of noise and a couple of our kids got a little tentative and you know one thing led to another."
Rose mentioned that most of the action during the night's match involved a big block or a big kill.
" I thought if we could pass the ball that we could do some things well and I thought Deja [McClendon] did a nice job attacking and Blair [Brown] and [Arielle Wilson] had some moments where they couldn't stop them but really for us tonight is was more about blocking," said Rose. "There were not a lot of digs. I mean [D'Errico] had two digs after two games so there were not a lot of balls that were being dug. They were either being blocked or they were kills."
Brown tipped her hat to the Hokies, saying that they were a tough team to play against because of their speed and tough serving.
"They're very well coached," said Brown. "You can tell they run a very quick offense. Tonight we needed to really work on our blocking and get that down and we were successful there so I think that really helped us."
Brown said that she especially enjoys putting up a big block, and that she and her teammates get an energy boost whenever they can take away a big kill from their opponent.
"I mean I think any play that you make is an energy changer on the court and that's one of them so if I can help bring the energy up that's what I'm going to do."
Virginia Tech head coach Chris Riley said that he and his team knew what they were up against, and he was pleased with the way the Hokies stuck with every play they made.
"I couldn't be more proud of our team," said Riley. "We struggled tonight but we played against a great Penn State group and you know they were physical and they were humungous blocking."
Riley agreed that the Nittany Lions' blocking game was very effective, and he attributed a lot of the Hokies' defeat to the height and talent of the Penn State defense.
"We struggled setting the outside and playing on the outside and against a team with 6-6 and 6-5 blocking you know you've got to be able to move them around and you know we struggled to do that at times tonight," said Riley. "In this environment for the first time of that kind of caliber you know at times it got to us but in general I think our kids really enjoyed the atmosphere of it and didn't really play tentative or scared at any time."
The Nittany Lions are excited for what lies ahead. Brown said that she is proud of her teammates for coming such a long way this season, and knows that Penn State will keep working hard to get where they want to be.
"I think every single game in the tournament you have to get better, you have to progress," said Brown. "This whole year for us has been about progression and we just need to continue doing that throughout the tournament."