Women’s Volleyball Advances to Elite Eight
For the fifth time in six years, Penn State is in the Elite Eight.
The Nittany Lions women’s volleyball team advanced to the regional finals of the NCAA Championship on Friday night, defeating Michigan State 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-23). The victory gave Penn State the season series win vs. the Spartans, after the teams split two matches during the regular season.
After Penn State jumped to an early 5-1 lead, the Spartans went on a 6-2 run to tie the game at 7. Neither team would lead again by more than two points in the set until kills by Michigan State’s Allyssah Fitterer and Alexis Matthews gave the Spartans a 25-22 win and a 1-0 lead in the match.
Michigan State jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead in the second set, but that would be the last time the Spartans would lead in the set. Penn State went on a 11-4 run to take a 12-8 lead and force a timeout from Michigan State. Led by setter Micha Hancock’s four kills, Penn State kept the momentum going and won the second set, 25-17, knotting things up.
The third and fourth sets followed a similar pattern for Penn State. The Nittany Lions gained a 9-4 lead to start the third set, and five Deja McClendon kills gave Penn State another 25-17 win. In the fourth set, Michigan State earned a 1-0 lead, and that was the only lead the Spartans would gain in the set. Penn State battled to a 25-23 set win to earn its spot in the next round.
Penn State head coach Russ Rose offered praise to both teams after the match. “First I would like to recognize the great effort by Michigan State tonight. I thought they played really hard, and forced us to challenge ourselves in a lot of areas we need a little work in. I thought that both teams were battling out there… I thought we got good effort.”
Senior Ariel Scott led Penn State with 15 kills on a .351 attack percentage. Deja McClendon added 14 kills, and Megan Courtney tallied 10 kills. Micha Hancock earned two aces and led the team with 47 assists.
The Nittany Lions will play Stanford in the regional finals on Saturday at 4 p.m. The winner of the match will advance to the Final Four in Seattle, Washington. The match vs. Stanford will be broadcast live on ESPNU and ESPN3.com.
You can see the updated championship bracket here.