Penn State Women’s Volleyball: Nittany Lions in the Final Eight of NCAA Tournament After Sweeping Kentucky
These are not the days when Penn State could throw out six players on a volleyball court knowing it could overpower and overwhelm any opponent at the net, when Penn State routinely turned in gaudy hitting percentage numbers en route to national championships.
But here is Penn State, back in the national quarterfinal round of the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament, sweeping Kentucky on Friday night in an NCAA regional semifinal match against Kentucky at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind., playing to the sum of its parts, which, may not be the offensive juggernaut of its recent history, but may still be good enough to capture a fifth national title in the last six years.
“The key for us was our defense was good,” Penn State coach Russ Rose told reporters in West Lafayette. “We didn’t give them any easy kills at any point in time. “For us to have success, we need to have everybody do certain things.”
The Big Ten’s Player of the Year, Ariel Scott, registered a match-high 11 kills. Deja McClendon, who plays all the way around, posted eight kills, two service aces and 10 defensive digs. Katie Slay, the big middle, led the match with five blocks. And Dominique Gonzalez, the defensive specialist, led all players with 12 digs.
Penn State will face the winner of Purdue and Minnesota at 4 p.m. Saturday in a regional final, with the winner of that match advancing to Louisville, Ky. for a national semifinal matchup.
“The good news is we don’t have to spend an incredible amount of time on the scouting report,” Rose said of the two Big Ten teams. Penn State is 4-0 against Purdue and Minnesota this season.
“But it’s how you play. It’s not who you play.”
For now, Penn State fans have to like, having known before, where this is headed.