Penn State Faces Cal in NCAA Semifinals

Dec. 11, 2007

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Penn State swept through regionals last weekend to earn the program's sixth berth into the NCAA Semifinals. The Nittany Lions took down No. 19 Michigan, 3-0, on Friday night before making short work of No. 17 BYU on Saturday in a three-game sweep. Freshman middle hitter Arielle Wilson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Regional Championship, while teammates Nicole Fawcett and Christa Harmotto joined her on the All-Regional Championship Team. With sweeps over Siena and Albany in the first and second rounds of NCAA competition, Penn State is the only team in this year's national semifinals to have advanced through the bracket without dropping a single game.

Penn State
will play 10th-seeded California in the second semifinal game on Thursday at 8 p.m. PT at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Calif. This will mark the first-ever meeting between the Nittany Lions and Golden Bears.

With a win, Penn State would advance to take on the first semifinal game winner, either top-seeded Stanford or fifth-seeded USC. The Lions are 4-5 all-time against the Cardinal, including a 3-2 loss at the Yale Classic earlier this season. PSU is 1-2 all-time versus the Trojans, most recently earning a four-game win early in the 2005 season.

The Lions are making their sixth appearance in the national semifinals and their first since 1999 when they went on to win the NCAA Championship. Penn State has advanced to the title game in four of its five previous semifinal appearances for a 4-1 record in semifinal contests.

Including this year's Penn State squad, six different Big Ten teams have combined to make 14 appearances in the national semifinals with six total berths into the NCAA Championship game. Minnesota was the last conference team to reach the semifinal round when it defeated USC in four games in 2004. The Golden Gophers then fell to Stanford in the title match.

Penn State
has advanced to the NCAA Championship match on four occasions, most recently in 1999 when it won the national title in three games over Stanford. The Nittany Lions also reached the final match in 1998, but fell to Long Beach State in five, in 1997, but dropped the five-game decision to the Cardinal, and in 1993, but lost to Long Beach State in four.

The Big Ten has made six appearances in the national championship contest, most recently in 2004 when Minnesota fell to Stanford. Penn State leads the Big Ten with four appearances in the final match, while Minnesota and Wisconsin each have one.  Penn State remains the only conference team to have won an NCAA Volleyball Championship, taking home the trophy in 1999.