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Women’s VB Faces UCLA in Lexington Regional

Four wins. That is what separates the Penn State Women’s Volleyball team from a fifth consecutive national championship. The ninth seeded UCLA Bruins (26-6, 17-5) will have an opportunity that so many other squads have failed at: A chance to end the Nittany Lions’ dynasty.

The match will take place at the Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky at 5 p.m. Kentucky (28-5, 17-3) takes on number one seeded Texas (24-4, 15-1) at 7 p.m. with the winners meeting tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. A trip to the Final Four in San Antonio will be on the line.

Unlike last weekend at Rec Hall where Penn State (25-7, 16-4) made things look relatively easy in two sweeps against overwhelmed Liberty and Delaware, this match, and keeping the season alive, will be no easy task. A quick look at UCLA will prove that:

  • Finished second in a strong Pac 12 conference that, like the Big Ten, sent over half its conference to the NCAA tournament.
  • Wins against Stanford and Oregon, two teams the Nittany Lions lost to early in the season.
  • Defeated Maryland Eastern Shore and San Diego to arrive in Lexington
  • Led by juniors Rachael Kidder and Tabi Love alongside Kelly Reeves.

Similar to Penn State, UCLA plays its strongest at home with five of its six losses away from the John Wooden Center. Something will have to give there, but overall, UCLA boasts some impressive resume wins and will be one of the better squads the Nittany Lions have faced all season. A few early things to look for from Penn State’s side will be:

  • Service errors- Penn State had way too many in their two matches last weekend, fifteen combined to be exact. If Micha Hancock has her serve working, it could lead to some much needed big runs.
  • The play of Ariel Scott and Deja McClendon- At least one, and more than likely both of them, will need to be at the top of their game to get by UCLA. It will be interesting to see how they look early on.
  • Contributions from Maddie Martin- Martin had a strong weekend overall, and a particularly good game against Liberty. Can she keep it up against better competition?

When the bracket was first revealed, many circled a potential regional final featuring national powers Penn State and Texas; however, both teams will need to escape third round matches tonight in order to make that happen.

Throughout their historic run, there have been few times when I really felt that Penn State was truly vulnerable. This might be one of those times.

Prediction: Penn State wins in five sets as Russ Rose’s squad find a way to keep the dream alive for at least one more night.

Check back at the conclusion of the match for a recap (and hopefully another preview).

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About the Author

Drew Balis

Drew is a senior marketing major. This fall, he will be covering Penn State Football for Onward State. He is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and loves THON and Domonic Brown.

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