Penn State women’s volleyball advanced to its 13th Final Four in program history Saturday night, sweeping Michigan State in front of a packed house at Rec Hall.
Russ Rose’s Nittany Lions topped the Spartans 25-23, 25-17, 28-26 to improve to 98-29 all-time in the NCAA tournament. Up next is a semifinals showdown with Nebraska, the lone team to beat Penn State this season.
How It Happened
Michigan State took an 18-14 lead over the Nittany Lions late in the first set, but they promptly went on a 7-1 run to ease any concerns of an early setback. Ali Frantti and Simone Lee tallied six kills apiece in the opening frame, while outside hitter Autumn Bailey got off to a strong start for the Spartans. She would finish with a match-high 18 kills.
The Nittany Lions took command early in set two, with Heidi Thelen's kill finishing it off to send Penn State into the intermission up 2-0.
Though Penn State appeared to be rolling to a quick sweep in the third set, the Spartans battled back. With the Nittany Lions two points away from victory, Michigan State fought back and had set point at 25-24. Penn State wouldn't let it get away though, as Lee's kill knotted it at 25 and the Nittany Lions fought off the Spartans to claim the set, 28-26, and a trip to Kansas City for the national semifinals.
Though it certainly wasn’t her most productive night offensively, Haleigh Washington put on a show above the net, leading all players with 10 blocks. The Nittany Lions showed plenty of determination the next two sets, outmatching the Spartans behind a balanced attack. Thelen turned in a strong performance with nine kills on just 14 swings.
Player Of The Match
Kendall White | Sophomore | Libero
The Indianapolis native was fantastic for the Nittany Lions, recording a match-high 18 digs and three assists.
The Nittany Lions (33-1) travel to the Sprint Center in Kansas City for an enormous clash against the Cornhuskers on Thursday night. Penn State is seeking its eighth national championship.