Penn State 3, American 0



UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The third-ranked Penn State womens volleyball team (28-2) downed American (23-7) in three games (30-18, 30-18, 35-33) to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Nittany Lions will play Maryland on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 7:00 p.m. for the right to advance to the NCAA Regional Semifinal match hosted by the University of Washington.

Penn State improves its all-time NCAA Tournament record to 42-22 in its 24 years participating in the event.

For two games we played great, good ball control and no mental errors, said head coach Russ Rose. Then after the break, we started making ball-handling errors and American got confident and scored some points. American is always competitive and they play hard. Its a reflection of [American coach] Barrys [Goldberg} personality.

Senior Ashley Pederson (Sioux Falls, S.D.) led all players with 17 kills on .417 hitting while freshman Kate Price (Fraser, Mich.) posted 15 kills and freshman Melissa Walbridge (Yardley, Pa.) tied her career high with 11 kills. Senior Syndie Nadeau (St. Georges, Quebec) and sophomore Cassy Salyer (Aurora, Colo.) both chipped in nine kills as the Nittany Lions attacked at a .370 clip while holding American to .166.

Junior setter Sam Tortorello (Shorewood, Ill.) directed the offense with 48 assists, adding five kills. Junior libero Kaleena Walters (Mt. Lebanon, Pa.) posted a team-high 17 digs as both Tortorello and Nadeau chipped in 15 digs

Penn State outblocked American 10.0 to 8.0, led by Salyer and Tortorello with five stuffs each. Walbridge and Price added three blocks while Nadeau posted two.

American was led by Cutrina Biddulph with 12 kills as Natacha Cornaz added 11. Courtney Mulford dished out 34 assists as libero Sabrina Vasconcelos posted a match-high 22 digs. Chelsa Brooks recorded a team-high four blocks.

Game one remained close early on with a Nadeau kill putting Penn State up 9-8. A Price put-away sparked a 5-0 Nittany Lion run to make the score 14-8 and a Pederson kill gave Penn State the 18-11 advantage. A block from Walbridge and Tortorello forced an American timeout at 19-11 before a Walbridge kill sparked another Penn State run, this one four points to put the Lions up 23-12. A Nadeau kill and consecutive Salyer put-aways made it 27-16 before another Salyer kill ended the game, 30-18. Walbridge, Salyer, Pederson and Price all recorded five kills in the game at Penn State attacked at a .449 clip.

Penn State gained the 9-6 lead on a Price kill to start the second game. A kill from Pederson allowed the Nittany Lions to maintain the advantage at 12-10 before a Price kill pushed the lead to three at 15-12. The teams traded points out of a technical timeout before a solo block from Tortorello and kills from Pederson and Tortorello gave Penn State the 19-13 lead. Back to back Pederson put-aways and a block from Nadeau and Walbridge pushed the lead to 25-14. Another Pederson kill made the lead 10 at 26-16 before a block from Salyer and Price, and a solo Price block ended the game, 30-18. Pederson recorded six kills on .455 hitting while Price totaled four kills on an errorless six attempts. Penn State outhit American .485 to .119 in the stanza.

The Nittany Lions opened up the 11-5 lead in the third game as a block from Price and Salyer made the score 13-7. A Tortorello kill pushed the lead to four at 14-10 before kills from Tortorello and Walbridge gave Penn State the 17-12 advantage. But American fought back to within two at 20-18 aided by two solo blocks by Chelsa Brooks. A Salyer kill pushed the lead back to three and sparked a 3-0 Penn State run to put the Lions up 24-18. Back to back American aces by Biddulph again brought the Eagles to within two at 26-24 but a Price kill pushed the lead to three at 28-25. A block from Walbridge and Nadeau gave Penn State game point at 29-25 but American rattled off the next six points to take the lead at 30-29. A Nadeau kill tied the game at 30-30 but a Penn State blocking error gave the Eagles the 31-30 lead. A Price kill knotted the score at 31-31, and following an American kill from Courtney Mulford, another Price put-away tied the score at 32-32. A solo Eagle block from Biddulph put them up 33-32 but an American service error again knotted the score, 33-33. A service ace from Salyer and a kill from Pederson ended the game, 35-33. Pederson and Price both tallied six kills in the game as Walters racked up 11 digs.

Penn State takes on Maryland on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 7:00 p.m. in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the match earns the right to advance to the NCAA Regional Semifinal match hosted by the University of Washington on Friday, Dec. 10 in Seattle.

In the earlier match, Maryland defeated Towson in three games (30-23, 30-22, 30-25). Jennifer Dewalt led four Terp players in double-digits with 15 kills while April Hoffman led Towson with 13 kills.

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-- Courtesy Penn State