December 18, 2010

FOUR the Glory! Penn State sweeps Cal for a Fourth Straight National Championship

Can you say FOUR-PEAT?! (Photo: PSU/Tony Mancuso)

Penn State wasn't supposed to win this year. Three years of unprecedented success, three national titles, a half-dozen all-Americans. Surely it couldn't be done again. Not with this team. They were too young, too inexperienced.

Well, the Nittany Lions not only won big in 2010, they won it all...

But the 3-0 (25-20, 27-25, 25-20) sweep of Cal wasn't as easy for Penn State as the final score would read. Cal had Penn State on the ropes several times in each of the three sets, while the Nittany Lions snatched victory from the esophagus of defeat in set 2.

The first set seemed to be business as usual for Penn State. The Nittany Lions hit .324 to Cal's .143, with a 17-11 kill advantage over the Bears. Freshman Deja McClendon had 6 kills.

In set two, Cal made great adjustments to get through Penn State's blocking. The Bears kept it a one-point set through most of the first half, but then took a 15-12 lead before Penn State rallied back for a 20-all tie.

Cal and Penn State dueled to the death, as the Bears had several shots at a set point at 24-23 and 25-24. The Nittany Lions had one last push in them, grabbing the last two for the win and led two sets to none. Katie Slay, another key freshman on this year's national title team, had 7 kills in the second set.

The final set wouldn't have been complete without sustaining the drama of the first two. Cal's blocking, in what seemed like a fantastic adjustment after the intermission, was killing Penn State. Usually that would be the other way around for any Nittany Lions opponent. The Bears would go up 10-6, until Blair Brown started to take control.

Brown, the senior captain and All-American, torched the Bears defense for 7 kills that sparked an 8-0 run for Penn State and a 17-12 lead. Brown finished the night with 18 kills.

And with that, it was all over. Penn State has become the most dominant four-year dynasty in college sports. How dominant? Going into this match--and now next year too--Penn State was the only team with current active players to know what it was like to win a national title.

Then there was head coach Russ Rose, who I'm pretty sure cracked a smile or two at the end. Some said he actually threw up a "five" afterward, but we'll find out for sure as time goes by.

What Rose did this year was nothing short of incredible. Taking a team that's lost four first-team All-Americans the last two seasons--all of whom are now on the U.S. national team--with little upperclass leadership or experience, and winning yet another national championship, that is probably one of the greatest coaching performances in the history of college sports, if not any sport.

Congratulations to the Penn State women's volleyball team, Coach Rose, and their families. They have surely earned every bit of it.

Of course, tonight's celebration wouldn't be complete without this very special Goo Punch for Tim:

Follow LBU on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to by Email


Post a Comment