NCAA Volleyball Tournament Central: Lions Head to Regionals
Dec. 12, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The second-seeded and Big Ten champion Nittany Lion women's volleyball team (30-2) travels to Lexington, Ky., for a showdown with Michigan State (23-11) in the NCAA regional semifinals on Friday at 5 p.m. (Live coverage on ESPN3).
The winner of the Penn State-Michigan State match will move on to face either No. 7 Stanford (26-5) or No. 10 Minnesota (29-6) on Saturday in the regional final at 4 p.m. live on ESPNU. The Nittany Lions split with the Spartans during the regular season, winning at East Lansing, but dropping the conference opener at Rec Hall. Penn State's 3-1 setback to Michigan State was its lone loss during conference play. The Lions swept Minnesota in 2013, winning 3-2 in Happy Valley and 3-0 in Minneapolis.
Penn State enters the weekend after sweeping LIU Brooklyn and Utah inside Rec Hall in the opening two rounds of the tournament. The Lions have won 33 of their last 36 sets. Penn State enters the weekend attacking at a .314 clip, led by All-Big Ten outside hitters Ariel Scott (3.18 kills/set) and Deja McClendon (2.92 kills/set).
Since the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament began its current 64-team setup, the Nittany Lions have advanced to the third round of the tournament all 15 years. Penn State has played in the Regional Final match in 12 of the 15 seasons.
The Big Ten Conference has been tremendous throughout the 2013 season. Having seven teams remaining in the draw during the second weekend of the tournament speaks volumes about the depth of the Big Ten. In addition to Penn State, Michigan State and Minnesota in the Lexington Regional, Nebraska plays American in the Lincoln Regional and Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin are all still alive in the Champaign Regional.
The NCAA field has been trimmed to 16 teams. Penn State's quest for a return to the national semifinals goes through Memorial Coliseum this weekend. First up is a clash with Michigan State on Friday.