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December 21, 2013
Against the No. 12-seed Wisconsin Badgers, Saturday night was supposed to be a breeze for No. 2 Penn State in Seattle.
The breeze turned into more of a gale at times, though head coach Russ Rose and his Nittany Lions emerged with the win, three games to one, aided by an especially-strong serving performance by Micha Hancock down the stretch.
Winning another NCAA national championship, Rose's Lions have now won six total, tying Stanford for most ever, and the fifth since 2007. Overall, the Nittany Lions improve to 6-3 in national championship matches.
Getting there wasn't particularly easy, though.
After routing the Badgers in the first set, 25-19, the Nittany Lions saw an early second set lead drift away into a late deficit. Committing four service errors of their own, the Nittany Lions were aided by two late mishaps by the Badgers to sneak to the locker room with a 26-24 second set win.
Coming out of the break, though, the Nittany Lions got more of a test than maybe they bargained for. The country's top team for blocks all season, Penn State got outblocked by the Badgers, 5-4 in the third. Losing the kills battle 14-9, the end result was a fairly comfortable 25-20 third set win for the Badgers.
Though Deja McClendon struggled at times through the course of the match, her five kills in the fourth set helped lift the Nittany Lions to the win, along with an overall 17-9 kills advantage, and in particular, Hancock's two late aces to pull away for the 25-23 clincher.
Ariel Scott finished with 21 kills to lead the Lions while Dominique Gonzalez and Megan Courtney finished with 20 digs each.
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