December 11, 2010

Penn State beats Duke 3-1, Advances to the National Semifinals

(Photo: Tony Mancuso/
Duke reached up and flicked Penn State's ear, snatching Set 3 from their overconfident hosts. But that made the Nittany Lions very, very mad, so Penn State proceeded to pound the Blue Devils into the Rec Hall floor in the fourth and final set, winning 3-1 3-1 (25-19, 25-18, 23-25, 25-17) in the NCAA women's volleyball regional finals tonight.

Penn State got off to its typical start, winning the first two sets by decent margins. But then things got shaky, as Duke started to tighten up and play well, while Penn State played like its expected the Blue Devils to just roll over in the 3rd set.

The Nittany Lions scraped back into that 3rd set, after trailing by more than a few points on several occasions. But the renewed sense of urgency by Penn State was too little, too late to save the match sweep.

Penn State had been hitting well over .300 in the first two sets, while Duke hit just about .130 or so. But in that 3rd set, Duke's hitting spiked to over .200, while Penn State's plummeted to the low .100's. Like most other sports, momentum is a huge part of volleyball, and it showed strongly in Set 3.

Now Penn State looks to the winner of Texas-Purdue, which is beginning right now 9 p.m.) on ESPNU. No. 16 seed Purdue is coming off a stunner over No. 1 Florida, while No. 9 Texas beat No. 10 Minnesota, in the regional semis. Stay tuned for more on this. The National Semifinal against Texas/Purdue will be Thursday night in Kansas City.

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