August 27, 2011; State College, PA, USA; Penn State players react after winning the 5th set against Southern California at Rec Hall. Penn State defeated Southern California 3 sets to 2. Mandatory Credit: Rob Christy-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State Returns To Final Four


Well, here we are again.  For the 5th time in the last 6 seasons, and the 10th time in program history, the Penn State women’s volleyball team is off to the Final 4.  PSU knocked off Big 10 rival Minnesota in four sets (25-19, 19-25, 26-24, 25-18) to earn a trip to Louisville and the national semifinals next weekend.

August 27, 2011; State College, PA, USA; Penn State setter Micha Hancock (12) serves the ball against Southern California at Rec Hall. Penn State defeated Southern California 3 sets to 2. Mandatory Credit: Rob Christy-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State controlled much of the action in the first set en route to the 6 point win, and was cruising in the 2nd set, leading 7-3, before Minnesota scored 16 of the next 19 points, to take control 19-10.  State rallied late to make it closer, but the Gophers were never in danger of going down two sets.  After the intermission, the third set was very much back and forth, until Penn State went on a run to open up a 14-8 lead.  The Gophers again went on a run, this time 7-1, to tie the set up at 15.  Minnesota would lead late, 23-21, but the Lions responded with kills by Micha Hancock, Deja McClendon to tie it at 23, and then another Hancock kill to set up set point at 24-23.  Minnesota would tie it at 24, but a PSU block and Ariel Scott kill would put Penn State up 2 sets to 1.

Behind dominant serving by Hancock to start the 4th set, PSU scored the first 5  points of the set and lead 9-4, before Minnesota would rally to take a 14-11 lead.  After a timeout, Penn State would settle down, and close the match on a 14-4 run to seal their trip to Louisville, capped by a kill by Big 10 Player of the Year, Ariel Scott.

After missing last year’s Final 4, Penn State returns to volleyball’s biggest stage, looking for a 5th national title in 6 seasons.  PSU faces the winner of the Nebraska-Oklahoma regional final next Thursday.

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Tags: Minnesota Golden Gophers Penn State Nittany Lions Volleyball