Three Big Ten Teams to Play in NCAA Regionals
Dec. 4, 2007
Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State all breezed through NCAA first- and second-round competition last weekend to earn their way into regional action on Dec. 7 and 8.
Michigan (24-10) and third-seeded Penn State (30-2) will meet in the regional semifinals on Friday at Rec Hall in University Park, Pa., at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the winner advancing to play either Middle Tennessee (35-2) or BYU (23-7) on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Michigan State (21-13) will meet defending national champion and No. 2 seed Nebraska (29-1) at the UW Field House in Madison, Wis., at 7 p.m. CT on Friday in the regional semifinals. With a win, the Spartans would advance to take on either Iowa State (19-13) or 10th-seeded California (24-7) on Saturday at 8 p.m. CT.
Both regional final matches will be televised live on ESPNU.
ROAD TO THE SWEET 16
The Wolverines are making their first ever Sweet 16 appearance after sweeping Miami (Ohio) and then-No. 21 Colorado State at Crisler Arena in the Championship's opening rounds. Michigan shut down the Rams' offense with 14 team blocks, including eight from junior Beth Karpiak and seven from sophomore Megan Bower. Senior All-Big Ten selection Katie Bruzdzinski led the Wolverines' attack with a team-high 14 kills on .421 hitting. With the pair of wins, the Wolverines improved to 14-0 in non-conference matches.
Michigan State made quick work of Kentucky before handing host Dayton its first home loss of the season in a 3-0 sweep. The Spartans held the 15th-seeded Flyers to just .037 hitting behind 16 team blocks, including a career-high nine block assists from Jessica Hohl. Seniors Ashley Schatzle and Katie Johnson led MSU on offense with 14 and 13 kills, respectively. The Sweet 16 appearance is the fourth in program history and the Spartans' first since 2002.
The Nittany Lions swept by Siena in the first round before doing the same against Albany the next day at Rec Hall. Penn State set a school record with a .602 hitting percentage to advance to the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive season and the 12th time since joining the Big Ten in 1991. Junior Nicole Fawcett led the way on the record-setting night with 17 kills on .538 hitting while Big Ten Player of the Year Christa Harmotto put down 13 kills on .750 hitting and Megan Hodge tallied 11 slams with no errors for a .550 hitting average.
BREAKING DOWN THE MATCHUPS
Michigan and Penn State have met twice this season with the Nittany Lions owning the 2-0 advantage. PSU dropped just six games during the conference season, one of which came at the hands of the Wolverines in the Big Ten season finale. Penn State has defeated Michigan on 33 of 36 occasions with the last Wolverine win coming in a five-game match on Nov. 2, 2002. Michigan has never beaten Penn State at Rec Hall. As a member of the Big Ten, Penn State is 4-1 against conference opponents in NCAA play, while Michigan has never faced another Big Ten team in the postseason.
Michigan State is 0-5-2 all-time against Nebraska having last faced the Cornhuskers on Sept. 13, 2003 in Lincoln, Neb. MSU and Nebraska have met once in NCAA play as the Huskers earned a narrow 3-2 victory in the 1995 National Championship Semifinals. The Spartans have reached the NCAA Regional Semifinals three times and have advanced on two of those occasions.