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December 19, 2013

Penn State advances to women's volleyball final

SEATTLE (AP) - Deja McClendon had 11 kills and 13 digs, Micha Hancock added 39 assists, and second-seeded Penn State swept No. 3 Washington 3-0 on Thursday night in the NCAA volleyball tournament semifinals, ending the Huskies' hopes of winning a national title at home.

The five-time champion Nittany Lions (33-2) dominated from the start, winning 25-14, 25-13, 25-16 to extend their winning streak to 24 matches and advance to their ninth title game.

Penn State (33-2) will face Big Ten rival Wisconsin in the championship match Saturday night. The 12th-seeded Badgers stunned No. 1 Texas in the first semifinal.

Krista Vansant had only seven kills for Washington (30-3) after setting a tournament record with 38 in the regional final against Southern California.

Penn State spoke confidently before the match about being able to handle the electric environment playing a road game in the semifinals. The Nittany Lions backed it up with one of their most impressive performances of the season after getting pushed to five sets in the regional final against Stanford.

Penn State hit .488 for the match, its highest percentage since hitting .507 against Indiana in early October. Ariel Scott added 10 kills for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State ruined what was a perfect setup for the Huskies. KeyArena was nearly sold out in anticipation of Washington playing in the semifinals just a few miles from campus. The fans were left waiting for a reason to erupt and the Nittany Lions never gave them an opportunity.

Washington had no answers for Penn State's towering front line of McClendon (6-foot-1), Ariel Scott (6-4) and Katie Slay (6-6). Penn State hit .488 for the match and simply hit over the top of Washington's blockers.

The Nittany Lions also kept Vansant from taking over the match the way she did in Washington's comeback victory over USCs. Kaleigh Nelson led Washington with eight kills and the Huskies hit a season worst .117.

Washington was trying to reach the title game for the first time since winning the championship in 2005.

The Nittany Lions hit .478 in the first set as Washington's defense struggled to slow down Penn State's attack. Trailing 11-9, Penn State ran off 16 of the final 19 points in the set. McClendon got most of the attempts, but Scott also had four kills in the first set.

The second set was just as impressive for the Nittany Lions. Washington continued to have no answers at the net as Penn State hit .583 for the set. Nia Grant had four of her six kills in the second set alone. The 25-13 margin was Washington worst single-set loss of the season.



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