Dec. 6, 2009

Courtesy of Penn State Athletics

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 1 Penn State women's volleyball team advanced to the NCAA Regionals with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-16) sweep of the University of Pennsylvania (23-6) Saturday night. The Nittany Lions have now won 98 consecutive matches and head coach Russ Rose has 997 career wins. Penn State advances to the NCAA Regionals for the 21st time.

Penn State (34-0) heads to the Gainesville Regional hosted by the University of Florida. The Nittany Lions take on the 16th-seeded Gators on Friday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. ET.

The Nittany Lions were led by junior Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.), who tallied a team-best 13 kills and nine total blocks. Freshman Darcy Dorton (Muncie, Ind.) finished second on the squad with nine kills and put up four total blocks. Senior setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) had 28 helpers and four blocks, while junior Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) had a career-high four aces and 14 digs.

Penn State attacked at a .349 clip against the Quakers, posting 38 kills, 35 assists, eight aces, 35 digs and 15.0 total team blocks. Penn finished the night with 33 kills, 33 aces, one ace, 37 digs and just 2.0 team blocks.

The Quakers came out on fire to open the match taking a 4-1 lead. The Nittany Lions continued to trail until a Wilson kill sparked a 4-0 run to bring PSU within one, 9-10, and force Penn to take a timeout. Senior Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) posted a kill after the break to tie the set at 10-10, but the score would tie six times before Penn took control of the lead for a second time. With the Quakers leading 18-16, the Lions called a timeout only to have Penn's Ashley Hawkins put down a kill increasing their lead to three, 19-16. However, a kill and a block by Dorton had PSU within one and a joint stuff by Glass and Wilson had the set tied for the eighth time at 19-19. Another Dorton kill gave Penn State the lead for good and sent Penn to the bench for a timeout. The timeout failed to slow the Nittany Lions as kills from Wilson and Dorton and an ace by junior Cathy Quilico (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) gave Penn State a 25-20 first set win.

Penn jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set before the Nittany Lions got on the board thanks to a Wilson kill. PSU continued to trail the Quakers until another Wilson kill began an 11-0 run by the Lions despite Penn calling two timeouts. Brown had three aces in the run and Wilson posted two kills. Penn's Elizabeth Semmens finally cut off the Nittany Lions with a kill, but Wilson didn't allow the Quakers to gain any momentum with a kill of her own. Penn State maintained at least a nine-point lead until the Quakers managed to tally four straight points to come within six, 20-14. Semmens and Lauren Martin each had two kills in the scoring spurt. Following a Nittany Lion timeout, an attack error by Penn increased the Lions' lead to seven, 21-15. The Quakers notched just two additional points, while Dorton, Hodge and Balza all contributed kills to close out set two in Penn State's favor, 25-17.

The third set started out much different than the first two with Penn State taking a 3-0 lead. Glass opened the set with a kill before junior Fatima Balza (Merida, Venezuela), Glass and Hodge teamed up for two blocks. A PSU service error gave the Quakers their first point, but Hodge tallied a kill to keep PSU ahead by three, 4-1. Penn State's blocking really picked up in the final set as blocks from Dorton, Balza and Brown had the Nittany Lions leading 7-3. After a Quaker timeout, Dorton put down a kill and teamed up with Wilson and Brown for a block to move Penn State ahead by five, 9-4. The Nittany Lions increased their advantage to seven, 14-7, by midway through the frame. However, Penn didn't let PSU off easy and worked back within four, 14-10, thanks to two Lion errors and an Anne Magnuson kill. Soon after Penn State was back ahead by seven, 18-11, courtesy of two kills by Hodge, one form Dorton and a Penn error. Penn called a final timeout, but it failed to take away Penn State's momentum. As the set wound down, the Nittany Lions posted three more blocks and Wilson capped off the night with a kill for a 25-16 set three victory.