Big Ten Sends Four Volleyball Teams to NCAA Regionals
Dec. 9, 2008
For the third time in five years, at least four Big Ten volleyball teams are on their way to NCAA Regionals.
Illinois, Michigan, Penn State and Purdue all advanced through the first two rounds of the 2008 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship last weekend, representing one-fourth of the remaining field of 16. NCAA Regionals will be played Friday and Saturday, Dec. 12 and 13, at four pre-determined campus sites, including Penn State's Rec Hall. Three Big Ten teams are on the same side of the tournament bracket, with a potential matchup between Illinois and Penn State on tap for the regional finals.
In order to advance, No. 9 Illinois will need to get by No. 8 California who made it to the national semifinals a year ago. Penn State needs a win over Western Michigan, this year's MAC Championship team. In other action, Michigan faces fourth-seeded Nebraska in Seattle, Wash., in regional semifinals and looks to earn the right to face off against No. 5 Washington or No. 12 Utah. Tenth-seeded Purdue takes on No. 7 Hawai'i in Fort Collins, Colo., and could advance to play No. 2 Stanford or No. 15 Florida.
ROAD TO REGIONALS
Penn State lived up to its top seed, opening its postseason campaign at home on Friday with a sweep over Long Island. The Nittany Lions hit .371 in the match while holding their opponents to a -.061 mark. Megan Hodge and Blair Brown led PSU with nine kills each. In the second round, the Nittany Lions made quick work of Yale in their 34th sweep of the season. Hodge posted a match-high 14 kills on .458 hitting as Penn State extended its undefeated streak to 103 sets, dating back to last season, and moved on to regionals for the sixth consecutive year.
No. 9-seed Illinois began its postseason run at home on Friday with a sweep over UW-Milwaukee. Johannah Bangert led the Illini at the net with 10 block assists, while Kylie McCulley paced the squad on offense with 12 kills. In second-round action, Illinois recorded another sweep with a 3-0 decision over Cincinnati. Laura DeBruler led the Illini with 18 kills, also adding 12 digs as the team earned its first trip to regionals since 2003.
Tenth-seeded Purdue used its home-court advantage to sneak by Louisville in first-round action, earning a 3-2 win over the Cardinals. Stephanie Lynch led the Boilermaker attack with 15 kills and 10 blocks as the team hit at a combined. 318 mark. Purdue used another five-set victory to get past Middle Tennessee State in Round 2, led by Kristen Arthurs' 15 kills. Libero Kelli Miller surpassed the 2,000 career digs mark in the match with 18 on the night. The regional trip is the third for the Boilermakers in the last five years.
In other NCAA action, Minnesota swept by North Dakota State at home in the first round, giving head coach Mike Herbert his 900th career victory. The Golden Gophers came up short in a second-round contest against Iowa State, falling 3-1 to close out their season.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES
And Then There Were Four
A Fabulous Four-some
Take a Seed
There's No Place Like Home
On the Prowl
Been There. Done That.
A Winning Tradition