Dec. 6, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The match may have wrapped up with No. 1 nationally-ranked Penn State earning its 34th consecutive 3-0 victory, but the Yale volleyball team certainly proved that it belonged in the NCAA Championship Season Round match on with the defending national champions on Saturday afternoon. Yale notched 18 points in set one against the Nittany Lions, a mark that nine other opponents failed to reach against the nation's top-ranked team this season.
With the loss, Yale wraps up its Ivy League Championship season at 21-6. Penn State improves to 34-0 overall as has now won all 102 sets played in 2008.
Junior Alexis Crusey and freshman Bridget Hearst led the Bulldogs with six kills apiece. Senior setter Ally Mendenhall closed out her career with a team-best 13 assists, and sophomore libero Kelly Ozurovich led the way in digs with five. Penn State's Megan Hodge was the only player with double-figure kills, slamming 14 in the match. Alisha Glass led the Nittany Lions with 29 assists, and libero Roberta Holehouse led all players with seven digs and five service aces. The Bulldogs hit .015 (20-19-65) for the match, while the Penn State offense hit at a blistering rate of .441 (39-9-68).
The Bulldogs and Nittany Lions split the first 12 points of the match, but Penn State broke the 6-6 deadlock with a 9-4 spurt that ran the score to 15-10 at the media timeout. Yale hung tough with the hosts out of the stoppage, but the nation's top team slowly but surely added to their lead, which grew to seven points at 20-13, forcing Yale Head Coach Erin Appleman to take her first timeout. The Bulldogs never allowed Penn State to pull away, and fought off two set points in the process, but the Nittany Lions eventually took the set by a score of 25-18.
Crusey and Hearst led Yale will four kills apiece in the frame. Crusey also led the Bulldogs in digs with three. Mendenhall distributed seven assists in the set. Nicole Fawcett and Megan Hodge each notched four finishers for Penn State. Alisha Glass dished out 11 assists, and Hodge led the way in digs with four. Yale hit .103 (11-8-29) for the set, compared to a scorching .400 (13-3-25) hitting percentage for the Nittany Lions.
The undefeated hosts came out firing in the second set, jumping out to a 10-4 lead before Coach Appleman called a timeout to slow down the Nittany Lions' offense. The Bulldogs claimed the first two points out of the stoppage, but Penn State struck back in a big way with an 8-2 run that forced Appleman to take her second timeout with the score now 19-8 in favor of the home team. The Bulldogs got their licks in after the timeout, but Penn State rolled on to a 25-11 set two win.
Crusey and junior Cat Dailey combined for four of Yale's six kills in the set with two apiece. Mendenhall assisted on four kills and tallied one of her own. Hearst garnered the remaining putdown to bring her total to five for the match. Hodge led all players with six finishers in the set. As a team, the Bulldogs posted a .050 (6-5-20), while Penn State continued to sizzle, hitting at a clip of .524 (14-3-21) and racking up four service aces.
The Bulldogs picked up the first point of set three, but the Nittany Lions would rattle off six points before Yale altered the scoreboard again. Penn State put together another run off of a Yale point, notching four in a row to run the score to 10-2 and force a Bulldogs' timeout. Yale ran off three points in a row out of the timeout, but the Nittany Lions eventually regained their eight point cushion at 17-9. A service ace ran the score to 18-9 as Appleman called her second timeout. Penn State kept the pressure on after the stoppage and wrapped up the set and the match with a 25-12 win.
Dailey, Hearst and Mendenhall notched the three Yale kills in the frame. Mendenhall distributed two assists, and Ozurovich posted three digs to lead the defense. Hodge and Christa Harmotto each recorded four kills for Penn State. Glass doled out eight assists and tallied two digs to lead the Nittany Lions in both categories. The Bulldogs hit -.188 (3-6-16) in the set, while the home team spiked its way to a .409 (12-3-22) hitting percentage.
"This season is a great milestone for us," said Coach Appleman. "The growth that the program has undergone over the last four years is incredible. The senior class deserves a lot of credit for the success we have had this season, as do the great athletic administrators at Yale that have supported us from day one."
With the victory, Penn State advances to the University Park Regional, where they will play the winner of this evening's Western Michigan/Tulane match in the Regional Semifinal round.
report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity