Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - NCAA Championship
Dec. 16, 2009
For the second time ever and the first time since 1994, the Big Ten sends two teams to the NCAA Semifinals, as No. 11 Minnesota and No. 1 Penn State head to the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., this weekend for the championship event.
Penn State will be making its third consecutive appearance in a semifinals match and its eighth overall. The Nittany Lions have advanced to the NCAA championship match following six of its seven previous semifinals appearances, going on to win titles in 1999, 2007 and 2008.
Minnesota is making its third overall semifinals appearance and its first since 2004 when the Gophers downed USC to advance to the championship match. Minnesota is seeking its first NCAA Championship and its second appearance in the final match.
The Nittany Lions and Golden Gophers are looking to set up the first-ever championship match between two Big Ten teams. When a pair of conference squads last advanced to the semifinals, Penn State and Ohio State both fell in the semifinal round.
Minnesota opens the weekend on Thursday, facing second-seeded Texas (28-1) at 7 p.m. ET, while Penn State follows, playing 12th-seeded Hawai’i (31-2) at 9 p.m. ET. The championship match will be played at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. All matches will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com.
ROAD TO TAMPA
The following night, the Nittany Lions upended ninth-seeded California by scores of 25-18, 25-17 and 25-22, winning their 100th consecutive match. Hodge once again led the way with 14 kills on .429 hitting, while Brown had 13 hits at a .375 clip. Glass guided her squad to a .337 attack average, contributing 35 assists and 12 digs. Hodge was named the regional’s Most Outstanding Player and was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates Brown, Glass and Arielle Wilson.
Minnesota opened regional action on its home court with a 3-1 win over Colorado State on Friday. Four Gophers had double-digit kills in the match, including freshman Tabitha Love, who put down 22 at a .439 average. Setter Taylor Carico recorded a triple-double with 13 kills on .647 hitting, 51 assists and 12 digs.
Love paced the Gophers again on Saturday as Minnesota posted a 3-1 win over third-seeded Florida State. The freshman tallied 21 kills, while Lauren Gibbemeyer had 15 hits on .464 hitting. Carico contributed 44 assists as she led her squad to a .331 attack average, and Christine Tan had 24 digs and anchored the Minnesota defense that held the Seminoles to .179 hitting. Love was named the region’s Most Outstanding Player, joining teammates Gibbemeyer and Carico on the All-Tournament team.