Women's Volleyball Team Shooting For Title

Russ Rose's top-ranked Nittany Lions take on Stanford for NCAA crown Saturday at 9 p.m. Watch the action live on ESPN2.

Behind 10 kills on .909 hitting by freshman middle hitter Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.), the top-ranked Penn State women’s volleyball team swept No. 6 Cal (30-28, 30-25, 30-16) Thursday night in Sacramento, Calif., in the NCAA National Semifinal. The Nittany Lions (33-2) will meet No. 4 Stanford Saturday for the national championship in a match slated for 6:00 p.m. PT (9:00 p.m. ET) that will be broadcast live on ESPN2. The Penn State-Cal match will air on ESPN2 on Friday, Dec. 14 at 12:00 p.m. PT (3:00 p.m. ET).

Junior outside hitter Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) led the Lions with 13 kills on .455 hitting while sophomore outside hitter Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) notched 11 kills. Wilson’s 10 kills without an error on 11 attacks is a career-high mark but falls just short of the NCAA requirement of 15 attacks for the single-match hitting percentage record. Junior middle hitter Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) tallied eight kills on .500 hitting as the Nittany Lions attacked at a .347 clip for the match and held the Golden Bears to attacking .121.

Sophomore setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) dished out 41 assists and added three kills and six digs as junior libero Roberta Holehouse (Joppa, Md.) led all players with 14 digs.

Penn State dominated the blocking game, recording 14.5 stuffs to Cal’s 4.0. Harmotto led the way with seven as Wilson chipped in six, redshirt freshman opposite Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) tallied five, Hodge provided four and Glass and Fawcett recorded three apiece.

The Nittany Lions posted six service aces while allowing the Golden Bears eight. Fawcett led Penn State with three winners, including consecutive aces to clinch the third game, as Harmotto, Glass, and Holehouse all added in one ace.

Penn State took the 8-4 lead on kills from Fawcett and Wilson and a block by Glass and Wilson. But Cal responded with three of the next four points on two kills and an ace to pull within two at 9-7. Following a Fawcett kill, the Golden Bears knotted the game at 10-10 on an ace before a Hodge kill and a Holehouse ace put the Nittany Lions back on top, 12-10. A Harmotto kill made it 14-12 and a Glass joust kill put the Lions up 15-14 heading into the media timeout. Out of the break, the teams traded kills three times, with all three of Penn State’s coming from Wilson, to put the Lions up 18-17 and a Hodge kill and block by Harmotto and Hodge gave Penn State the 20-17 advantage and forced a Cal timeout. Out of the break, the Golden Bears responded with a kill but Harmotto answered with a kill of her own and a Cal attack error and a Hodge block put the Nittany Lions up 23-18. However, a Cal kill turned the tides, sparking a four-point Golden Bear run to trim the Penn State lead to one at 23-22. Out of a Penn State timeout, the teams exchanged points before a Cal kill and consecutive blocks tied the game at 25-25. A Fawcett kill was quickly followed by another Golden Bear kill, and the teams traded points twice more to make it 28-28 before a Brown kill out of the middle and a Brown and Glass block ended the game, 30-28. Harmotto and Wilson both tallied four kills in the game as Glass, Fawcett and Hodge all added in three kills and Harmotto led the team with four blocks.

A Harmotto and Brown block started off the second game for the Nittany Lions and two Wilson kills, a triple block by Brown, Wilson and Fawcett and a Cal attack error gave Penn State the 8-3 lead. Out of a Cal timeout, the Golden Bears claimed the next three points but a Wilson and Brown block and a Fawcett ace gave Penn State the 10-6 cushion. The teams traded points and two Cal attack errors and a Lion triple block from Hodge, Harmotto and Brown made it 14-7. But the Golden Bears claimed the next four points to pull within three at 14-11. A Harmotto kill halted the run but Cal scored the next three points on a kill and consecutive aces to trim the Lion lead to one at 15-14. A Hodge laser down the line, two Cal attack errors and a Harmotto overpass kill gave Penn State the 19-14 lead and kills from Hodge and Fawcett put the Lions ahead 23-17 to force a Cal timeout. Out of the break, the teams traded points three times before two Golden Bear kills and an ace forced a Penn State timeout, up 26-23. A Fawcett kill off the block and a Cal attack error put the Lions up 28-23 and the teams traded kills twice, with a Fawcett kill giving Penn State the game, 30-25. Fawcett led the Lions with seven kills in the stanza as Penn State attacked at a .424 clip for the game.

A tripled block by Harmotto, Glass and Hodge gave Penn State the 3-2 lead to begin the third game but Cal jumped back to grab the 6-4 advantage on a kill and two Lion errors. A Harmotto kill, Cal error, block by Wilson and Fawcett and a Wilson overpass kill made it 8-6 before two Golden Bear errors pushed the Lion lead to 10-6. A Wilson solo stuff and a double block by Wilson and Fawcett extended the lead to 13-7 and the teams traded points before two Cal errors and a Brown kill pushed it to 17-8. Following two Lion errors, kills from Wilson and Harmotto gave Penn State the 19-10 lead. Out of a Cal timeout, two Lion errors were quickly followed by a Golden Bear error and kills from Hodge and Fawcett made it 22-12. The squads exchanged points twice and a Harmotto ace pushed the Lions ahead 25-14. Two more Cal kills sandwiched a Wilson put-away to make it 26-16 and kills from Fawcett and Hodge and consecutive Fawcett service aces ended the game, 30-16.

The national championship contest will be the fifth in program history for the Nittany Lions, as they also advanced in 1993, 1997, 1998 and 1999, clinching the title in 1999. Penn State improves to 53-25 in the NCAA Tournament and is one of two teams — with the other being the Cardinal — to appear in every postseason event since its inception in 1981. Saturday’s match will feature eight 2007 AVCA All-Americans, including first-teamers Fawcett, Hodge and Harmotto for Penn State and Bryn Kehoe, Foluke Akinradewo and Cynthia Barboza for Stanford. Penn State’s Glass and Stanford’s Alix Klineman both earned Second Team honors. The two teams met earlier this season in New Haven, Conn., with Stanford outlasting Penn State in five games (30-23, 23-30, 27-30, 30-28, 15-9) on Sept. 15. In NCAA play, the lone Nittany Lion victory was a three-game win (15-2, 15-10, 15-7) on Dec. 18, 1999 in Honolulu, Hawaii, to give Penn State its first NCAA title.

Fight On State Top Stories