KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Penn State volleyball team might not have been as dominant from start to finish as the previous three editions, but that didn’t matter in the end.
The Nittany Lions are national champions again.
Penn State won its fourth straight title Saturday night, sweeping upstart California in three sets behind the power of Blair Brown and Deja McClendon and a gutsy performance in the key second set.
Brown had 18 kills and 10 digs and McClendon added 16 kills for the Nittany Lions (32-5), who won 19 of their last 20 matches and extended their record number of consecutive national titles.
Penn State won 25-20, 27-25, 25-20. After Katie Slay put down an easy kill to finish the match, she turned her back to the net and welcomed her teammates with open arms.
“We had some ups and downs throughout the year, so it was a big challenge for us,” Penn State coach Russ Rose said. “We never lost hope. We always felt that if we could get ourselves into certain matches that we could win those matches.”
The Golden Bears (30-4), who won each of their previous five tournament matches by sweeps, lost 3-0 for the first time since Penn State beat them in last year’s regional final. Penn State has beaten Cal four straight years in the postseason, all by sweep.
McClendon, the national freshman of the year, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the final four.
Penn State’s six seniors finished their careers 142-7 and having never finished a season without winning the national championship.