September 13, 2010

Nittany Digs: Goodbye to 'The Streak'

"The Streak" may have ended this weekend,
but Rec Hall is still an impenetrable
fortress for Penn State women's volleyball.
(Photo: Steve Manuel)
Penn State women's volleyball saw it's NCAA record 109-game win streak snapped at the hands of Stanford this past Saturday. I feel like it's partly my fault. In last week's edition of Nittany Digs, I wrote:
"Penn State women's volleyball is quickly separating itself from any other college sports dynasty. Ask the players and coaches--particularly head coach Russ Rose--and they'll surely tell you all the right things. But it's starting to morph into a monster, as we're all left to wonder "when will they ever lose again?"
Yeah, not happy about saying that now. Anyway, there's still much to look forward to this season, so on with this week's update.

As always, if you're a die-hard PSU volleyball fan, I highly recommend checking out Dig Nittany Volleyball, a fantastic, independent blog dedicated to two of Penn State's most dominant teams.

White House Visit
Members of the Penn State women's volleyball and the men's and women's fencing national championship teams will travel to Washington D.C. on Monday, Sept. 13 to visit the White House and meet with the President of the United States for NCAA Champions Day.

The Nittany Lions are two of more than 30 teams to be honored at the White House. In association with the event, the President will also recognize various championship teams and individual student-athletes for their contributions to their communities, continuing efforts by President Obama to commend sports champions for service.
NIKE Big Four Classic
9/10 - 9/11 - Gainesville, FL

No. 1 PSU vs. No. 4 Florida - W, 3-1 (20-25, 25-21, 25-14, 25-23)
Three Nittany Lions tallied double-digit kills, including freshman Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) with 18, senior Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) with 16 and senior Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) with 11. Sophomore Kristin Carpenter (Mechanicsville, Va.) dished out 41 assists and was third on the team with 12 digs. Brown led the team in digs with a career-high 21 and senior libero Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) finished the night with 15 and also tallied a team-best four aces. Wilson led the team in blocking with nine total.

Penn State registered a .293 attack percentage and totaled 57 kills, 52 assists, six aces, 66 digs and 10.5 total team blocks. The Gators were not far behind finishing the match with a .231 attack percentage and 51 kills. Florida also posted 46 assists, seven aces, 57 digs and 9.0 team blocks.
No. 1 PSU vs. No. 2 Stanford - L, 0-3 (28-26, 25-12, 25-18)
Almost three years ago to the day, the Penn State women's volleyball team lost a five-set match to Stanford on Sept. 15, 2007 in the Yale Classic. After three storybook seasons, No. 1 Penn State's record-breaking 109-match winning streak came to an end Saturday night with a 3-0 (28-26, 25-12, 25-18) loss to No. 2 Stanford (7-0).

During the streak, which is the longest Division I women's streak in history and second overall only to the Miami men's tennis team's streak of 137 straight matches, the Nittany Lions won an unprecedented three straight NCAA titles. Between Sept. 21, 2007 and Sept. 10, 2010, Penn State lost just 19 sets and won a record breaking 111 straight sets beginning with the final set of the 2007 National Championship match against Stanford and ending in the third set of the 2008 NCAA National Semifinal against Nebraska. In addition, Penn State won an NCAA-best 55 straight road matches and was not out-blocked for 68 consecutive matches.

Seniors Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.), Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.), Florida's Kelly Murphy and Callie Rivers, Stanford's Cassidy Lichtman and Texas' Rachael Adams made up the Nike Big Four Volleyball Classic All-Tournament Team. Stanford's Alix Klineman was the MVP.

Brown led the Nittany Lions with 11 kills, while freshman Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) and Wilson tied with five apiece. Sophomore Kristin Carpenter (Mechanicsville, Va.) split setting duties with freshman Mikinzie Moydell (Parker, Colo.). The tandem posted 16 and 11 assists, respectively. McClendon led the team with six digs and Wilson had a team-best two blocks.

Stanford held Penn State to .091 hitting, 30 kills, six aces, 30 digs and 3.0 team blocks. Stanford finished the match hitting .389, tallying 47 kills, six aces, 42 digs and 5.0 team blocks.
The fact that Stanford won all three sets still amazes me. Penn State doesn't get blown out, but that's basically what happened. But maybe Stanford is just that good. There's every reason to believe that, since they were ranked No. 2, and will be guaranteed the No. 1 spot this week.

So if you're in the area this weekend, head on over to Rec Hall, and give our girls the support. Russ Rose will have them ready; you better believe it. But what this team has accomplished over the last three seasons is simply incredible.

In the Polls

Penn State fell only one spot, to No. 2 in the AVCA Coaches' Poll released today. The Nittany Lions still received two first-place votes, however, putting them in prime position to recapture the No. 1 spot, should Stanford lose a match and Penn State keep winning.

Up next...
Penn State returns to Rec Hall on Friday, Sept. 17 for a 7 p.m. match up with George Washington in the Rockvale Outlets Classic. The Nittany Lions host Princeton (10 a.m.) and St. John's (7 p.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 18.

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