Penn State Advances to Regional Final with 3-1 Victory Over Michigan State
Dec. 13, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 2 Penn State Nittany Lions advanced to the Lexington Regional final on Friday night with a four-set win over No. 20 Michigan State, 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-23), at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. The win for Penn State captures the program’s second-straight trip to the NCAA Elite Eight.
Penn State (31-2) came out firing on all cylinders in the opening set, grabbing a quick 5-1 lead and putting Michigan State (23-11) on its heels to start the match. The Spartans quickly responded with a 6-2 run after falling behind by four to square the set at seven. Both teams traded points and neither side had more than a two-point lead until Michigan State claimed at 24-21 to earn three set points. After saving off one set point at 24-21 a solid attack from the wide hitters for MSU found the floor, and took with it a 1-0 lead as MSU claimed the opening set, 25-22. Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski led the way with a frame-high seven kills. Taylor Galloway and Kristen Kelsey for MSU led the Spartans with five digs each. Penn State was led by Megan Courtney who collected a team-high three attacks in the set.
After racing out to a quick 4-1 lead in the second set, Michigan State then saw Penn State respond with an 11-4 run to take a 12-8 lead and force a MSU timeout. Michigan State pulled to within three points at 17-14, and then lost three of the next four points and found themselves trailing 20-15 and called a timeout, their second of the period. Penn State stretched its lead to a frame-high eight points at 24-16 and squared the match 1-1 by picking up a 25-17 second set win. Penn State had three players, Ariel Scott, Micha Hancock and Deja McClendon who each had four kills in the set, with Courtney hauling in five digs for the Nittany Lions. MSU was led by Wicinski again in the second frame, with four kills, while Galloway and Kori Moster each had four digs.
In the early stages of the third set, Penn State took control of the set early by winning nine of the first 13 points of the set to take a 9-4 lead. The Nittany Lions never allowed MSU to win consecutive points the entire set, and cruised their way to a 25-17 third set win to take the 2-1 lead in the match. McClendon led the way in kills for Penn State with five in the set. Five of the six players who recorded an attack in the set tallied a kill in the set for PSU. The Nittany Lions also had five different players record a dig in the set, with four players collecting four or more.
In the fourth set, Penn State nailed down the 3-1 win with a 25-22 win. Michigan State had it as close as one point on two different occasions, but never led in the set. Penn State took the 24-20 lead late in the fourth set, and forced Michigan State into saving four set points. After saving off three of the four set points, Penn State put the nail in the coffin on the last set point, and collected the 25-23 win in the final set.
Allyssah Fittrer led all players in the match with 18 kills for Michigan State. Scott led all Nittany Lion players with 15 kills, while also contributing three digs in the match.
Penn State advances to play the winner of No. 7 Stanford and No. 10 Minnesota in the Lexington Regional final on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. ET.