Dec. 14, 2013
Lexington Regional Tournament Central I Match Notes
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LEXINGTON, Ky. - A trip to the NCAA National Semifinals is on the line as the No. 2 Penn State women's volleyball team (31-2) is set to take on Stanford (27-5) in the Lexington Regional Final Saturday, Dec. 14 at 4 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum. The match will broadcast live on ESPNU with Melissa Lee and Nell Fortner on the call.
PENN STATE VS. STANFORD
Penn State is an even 7-7 in the all-time series against the Cardinal. The most recent three meetings between the two teams have all been in the Nike Big Four non-conference tournament, where Stanford claimed wins in two of the three outings. In NCAA tournament play, the Nittany Lions hold a 3-2 advantage against the Cardinal. The last three tournament matches between the two clubs have been for the national title, with Penn State claiming victories in 1999, 2007 and 2008.
SCOUTING THE CARDINAL
No. 7 Stanford enters Saturday's matchup after securing a 3-0 sweep against Minnesota in the Regional Semifinals. Prior to the win, the Cardinal knocked off Hampton and Oklahoma in straight sets to earn a trip to Lexington. The win against the Gophers improved the Stanford winning streak to 12 consecutive matches and put the Cardinal at 27-5 on the year.
Five of Stanford's top hitters are all averaging more than 2.70 kills per frame, led by Carly Wopat, who's averaging 2.92 per set on .443 hitting, while also leading the blocking with 1.44 blocks per set. Libero Kyle Gilbert is anchoring the defense with 5.04 digs per set, while Inky Ajanaku is also shoring up the blocking unit with 1.38 blocks per set
REGIONAL SEMIFINAL REWIND
Led by three double-digit kill performances, the No. 2 Penn State women's volleyball team (31-2) rallied from behind to defeat Michigan State (23-12) in four sets (22-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-23) Friday evening in Memorial Coliseum. With the victory, the Nittany Lions extended their winning streak to 22 consecutive matches and advanced to the Regional Finals of the NCAA Tournament.
Senior Ariel Scott led the offense with a team-high 15 kills, adding three digs and five blocks. Senior Deja McClendon followed close behind with d4 kills and 10 dig for her 10th double-double of the season. Sophomore Megan Courtney rounded out the group of double-digit hitters, registering 10 kills and 14 digs for her seventh double-double of the year. Junior Micha Hancock recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 47 assists and 14 digs.
Senior Katie Slay led the squad in blocking, posting eight blocks, including one solo stuff, while also adding eight kills. Junior Dominique Gonzalez anchored the defense with 16 digs. Junior Lacey Fuller matched a season-high mark, contributing eight digs.
NITTANY LIONS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
The Nittany Lions are set to make their second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Regional Finals this weekend after knocking off Big Ten rival Michigan State in four sets. With an 81-26 all-time record in the NCAA Tournament, Penn State has totaled 10 trips to the National Semifinals ('93, '94, '97, '98, '99, '07, '08, '09, '10, '12), eight appearances in the NCAA title match ('93, '97, '98, '99, '07, '08, '09, '10) and five National Championships ('99, '07, '08, '09, '10).
REGIONAL FINAL FACTS
Penn State owns a 9-5 record all-time since the Regional Final match began in 1993. In the last 10 years, the Nittany Lions have put together a 5-3 mark Regional Final matches, having only missed the round of eight in 2011.
IT'S A BIG TEN PARTY!
Heading into the weekend, seven of the 16 remaining teams in the 2013 NCAA Tournament are from the Big Ten, which set an NCAA Women's Volleyball record among conferences nationally. After Friday's matches, for teams remain in the final eight, including No. 8 Nebraska, No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 2 Penn State and unseeded Purdue.
Eight teams were originally selected as participants in the tournament, but Michigan failed to advance after a round-one loss to LSU. Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan State all dropped out following losses in the round of 16.
Should the Nittany Lions defeat Stanford, Penn State will join three other teams in Seattle, Wash. for the National Semifinal match on Dec. 20, 2013 at Key Arena. A win would also secure Penn State's second consecutive appearance in the National Finals.