Skip to comments.Penn State volleyball: Nittany Lions defeat Wisconsin for NCAA championship
Posted on 12/21/2013 9:53:42 PM PST by FlJoePa
SEATTLE It appeared the Penn State womens volleyball team was on the brink of blowing a two-set lead.
But the right person stepped to the service line at the right time, and the Nittany Lions caught fire.
Micha Hancock delivered a pair of aces as the Nittany Lions ran off the final five points of the match and another national title was theirs.
Behind a match-high 21 kills from Ariel Scott, Penn State held on for a 25-19, 26-24, 20-25, 25-23 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday night at KeyArena for the programs sixth national championship and fifth in the last seven seasons.
The crown, wrapped up in the the first all-Big Ten national title match, ties Stanford for the most in NCAA history as the Lions won their 24th consecutive match.
Penn State (33-2) also got 14 kills on .481 hitting from Katie Slay, 11 kills from Deja McClendon, five blocks and 20 digs from Megan Courtney, four stuffs from Nia Grant, 20 digs from Dominique Gonzalez, and 48 assists, 16 digs and three huge aces from Hancock.
Wisconsin (28-9) was led by Dominique Thompsons 16 kills and five blocks, 5-foot-7 Deme Morales 15 kills, Haleigh Nelsons seven kills and nine blocks, Annemarie Hickeys 26 digs and Lauren Carlinis 39 assists.
The Nittany Lions pulled away in the opening set with a 6-2 run midway through, with back-to-back blocks by the combination of Slay and Hancock and two Slay kills highlighting the run. Penn State hit .350 and held a 19-9 advantage in kills in the frame.
Penn State carried the momentum well into the second set, rocketing to an 11-5 lead with more big swings from Scott. But Wisconsin rallied to knot the set at 14-14, and they stayed tight the rest of the frame. The Badgers had the lead at 23-22, and again had set point at 24-23, and both times Badgers put serves into the net. Scott closed out the set with two straight kills, giving her eight put-aways in the frame
Both teams came out of the break between sets with some ragged play, with a combined 13 hitting errors by the timeout when the Baders led 15-12. Two Morales kills to go with a block on Scott over the final three points leading into the timeout gave Wisconsin the lead. The lead stayed between three and five the rest of the set to breathe life into Wisconsin, with a Paulina Prieto Cerame serve into the net locking up the frame.
It took a little while, but the Nittany Lions began to find their game again in the fourth set, with passes starting to hit the mark again, and McClendon starting to find her hitting touch after a number of errors over the previous two sets. But the Nittany Lion play fell apart again, with three errors over five points, and a Badger ace, to put Wisconsin ahead 22-19. But Grant ripped a kill that brought Penn State back to life, and after the teams traded points Hancock was back at the service line at just the right time, delivering an ace ahead of a Slay kill on an overpass to knot it at 23-23. After a time out, Hancock ticked the net with another serve that flumoxed the Badgers just enough to give her another ace and match point, and seconds later an overpass floated above the net for McClendon to hammer into the floor to wrap up another banner season for the Nittany Lions.
Notes: Penn State entered the night with 23 straight-set wins this season. ... Rose had 1,124 wins heading into Saturdays title match. Hawaiis Dave Shoji paces all Division I coaches with 1,128. ... Penn State had won both regular-season meetings with the Badgers 3-0. ... The Nittany Lions went into the finals with a 25-0 record after winning the first two sets. ... The Nittany Lions were making their ninth appearance in the finals, losing the first three before winning the last six.
It was closer than I thought it would be, and much closer than it should have been.
Wisconsin played great defense. Hancock was the difference maker. If not for the service errors in the second set, Wisconsin probably would have won.
Hope we are not so politically correct than giving them their due is not allowed..
Way to go!!! They are the a true dynasty at Penn State! Congrats!! This is great!
Watched the whole thing since volleyball was my sport in school and afterward. Fantastic effort by Wisconsin in reaching the finals as the lowest seed ever to do so and Penn State finding a way to pull out the fourth set to win the match when momentum had clearly shifted. As mentioned, a great defensive effort by Wisconsin and I look forward to seeing some of these kids on the US National Team one day. And what a freshman the Badgers have in Lauren Carlini!
Last year she led her team to the Class A state championship. This year they had a phenomenal record but were upset in the state semi-finals to another local team from Romeo. In the finals, Romeo's #1 setter and #1 hitter became ill and were unable to play. They Got creamed.
Carly was also named Michigan's #1 female volleyball player.....
Florida is an awesome volleyball school.......
So proud of these seniors getting back and winning it again. Really gonna miss them.
It will be an interesting transition for Russ as he has 6 of the top 10 HS players in the country coming in next year.
Not sure what you mean. If it’s the name “Nittany Lions”, the only sports team at PSU that uses the name “Lady Lions” is the women’s basketball team. The rest all refer to themselves just as the men’s teams do - Nittanies.