Wisconsin 3, Notre Dame 1



UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The third-ranked Penn State womens volleyball team defeated Maryland in three games (34-32, 30-27, 31-29) Saturday night to advance to the NCAA Regional Semifinal match for the second year in a row and the 17th time in 24 NCAA Tournament appearances. Penn State improves to 29-2 with the win and will take on the winner of the Long Beach State-UCLA match being played tonight. The teams will square off on Friday, Dec. 10 in Seattle, Wash. The other Regional Semifinal match will pit St. Marys versus the winner of Washington-Kansas, also being played tonight.

The Nittany Lions improve their all-time NCAA Tournament record to 43-22 and stand with a 31-2 record in NCAA Tournament matches played at Rec Hall. Of the 31 wins since 1981, 25 have been three-game sweeps.

Freshman Melissa Walbridge (Yardley, Pa.) pounded a career-high 15 kills with only one error on 22 swings to hit a match-high .636. Walbridge was one of six Penn State players in double-digit kills, as sophomore Cassy Salyer (Aurora, Colo.) tallied 13 kills, senior Ashley Pederson (Sioux Falls, S.D.) notched 12 and senior Syndie Nadeau (St. Georges, Quebec), freshman Kate Price (Fraser, Mich.) and junior setter Sam Tortorello (Shorewood, Ill.) all recorded 10 kills apiece. As a team, Penn State recorded 70 kills, a season-high for a three-game match, and hit .263.

Tortorello recorded her first career triple-double in the win, adding 52 assists and 15 digs to her career-high 10 kills. It is the first triple-double this season for Penn State.

Junior libero Kaleena Walters (Mt. Lebanon, Pa.) paced the Nittany Lion defense with 22 digs while Nadeau added 15, Price posted nine and senior Tabitha Eshleman (Greencastle, Pa.) tallied eight. Penn States 80 team digs ties a season high for a three-game match.

Maryland won the blocking battle, 15.0 to 6.0. Salyer led the Nittany Lions with five as Pederson notched three and Tortorello posted two.

For the Terps, Sarah Treadwell and Rachel Wagener both posted 11 kills and Jennifer Dewalt chipped in 10. Aimee Huddleston dished out 44 assists and libero Beth Gillming led the team with 17 digs. Stephanie Smith recorded a match-high 10 blocks.

Penn State took the 10-6 lead in the first game behind consecutive kills from Pederson, Walbridge and Price. Back to back Maryland blocks narrowed the Lion lead to two at 11-9 before another Walbridge put-away extended the lead back to three. But a Terp kill and two Penn State errors knotted the score at 12-12 and the teams exchanged points before kills from Price and Tortorello and a Price ace pushed Penn State ahead, 16-13. A Terp kill and block trimmed the Lion lead to one at 16-15 but kills from Tortorello and Walbridge put Penn State ahead, 18-15. The teams traded points three times before a Maryland attack error gave the Lions the 22-18 advantage. A disputed call led to a Maryland yellow card and following two Terp kills to make the score 22-20 in favor of Penn State, a red card was awarded to Maryland to give Penn State a point, making the score 23-20. An emotional Terp team responded by scoring the next three points to tie the game at 23-23. A Price kill broke the stalemate and the teams exchanged points before a Maryland kill gave it the 26-25 lead and forced a Penn State timeout. Out of the break, kills from Walbridge and Nadeau put the Lions back on top, 27-26 and the teams exchanged points three times to make the score 30-29 in favor of Penn State. Back to back Maryland blocks put the Terps up, 31-30, before a Price kill and a block from Salyer and Pederson switched the lead back to Penn State, 32-31. Maryland answered with a kill to knot the score at 32-32 before a Terp service error and a kill from Walbridge ended the game, 34-32. Walbridge led the Lions with eight kills while hitting .700 as Price and Nadeau each chipped in five kills. Maryland outblocked the Lions 7.0 to 1.0 in the stanza.

Game two remained close from the start, with eight ties before a Tortorello kill and a Maryland ball-handling error gave Penn State the 11-9 lead. Maryland scored three of the next four points to knot the game at 13-13 and the teams traded points four times before the Terps gained the 18-16 lead on a Lion attack error and a kill from Sarah Treadwell. But two Maryland attack errors again tied the game and two more ties ensued before Penn State went up 23-20 on back to back Tortorello kills and a Salyer put-away. Following a Maryland timeout, the Terps climbed back to tie the score at 23-23 and again three more ties followed. Kills from Nadeau and Price allowed Penn State to gain the 28-26 advantage and the teams traded points before a Maryland miscommunication allowed the set to fall to the floor, ending the game, 30-27. Walbridge, Tortorello and Salyer all posted four kills as Walters racked up 11 digs.

The Nittany Lions took the 12-10 lead to start the third game on a block from Salyer and Pederson. Penn State maintained the slight advantage, going up 15-13 on a Walbridge kill before Maryland tied the game at 15-15. Four ties ensued before Maryland claimed the 21-19 lead on consecutive kills from Maria DiLivio, Sarah Treadwell and Rachel Wagener. The Terps remained ahead, taking the 24-21 lead on a block from Jennifer Dewalt and Stephanie Smith. A Nadeau kill and a Maryland ball-handling error trimmed the deficit to one at 24-23 but the Terps responded with a kill from Jade Brown to take the two-point lead. Penn State fought back with a kill from Nadeau and two from Price to re-take the lead at 26-25. The teams traded points three times before a Penn State attack error knotted the score at 29-29. But a kill from Pederson and a kill from Tortorello on an attack from the backrow ended the game, 31-29. Salyer posted seven kills on an errorless 10 attempts to hit .700 in the game while Pederson added five kills and Tortorello and Walters posted eight digs each.

-- Courtesy Penn State