SEATTLE – Penn State quieted the Washington fans – and sent them home early.
Never mind Washington winning a national championship at home. It was second-seeded Penn State making the statement with a 3-0 victory over the third-seeded Huskies on Thursday night in the NCAA volleyball semifinals.
Deja McClendon had 11 kills and 13 digs, Micha Hancock added 39 assists, and the five-time champion Nittany Lions (33-2) rolled into the championship match.
They will face Big Ten rival Wisconsin on Saturday night. The 12th-seeded Badgers stunned No. 1 seed and defending champion Texas in the first semifinal.
Penn State (33-2) never let Washington (30-3) in the match, winning 25-14, 25-13, 25-16 to extend its winning streak to 24 matches and advance to its ninth title game.
“You don’t know how everybody’s going to play with 15,000 people. But I was confident that we had a good game plan, and the players were good listeners,” Penn State coach Russ Rose said. “And, you know, some of them have been here before so they know a little bit about ignoring the noise and just going out there and doing their job.”
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. They had 45 digs and committed only five attacking errors.
Ariel Scott added 10 kills for the Nittany Lions and Hancock had three of Penn State’s five aces.
In Wisconsin’s 3-1 victory over Texas, Ellen Chapman had 17 kills and Deme Morales added 14 – including the final two points.
Wisconsin (28-9) took control early and held off the Longhorns 25-19, 25-18, 26-28, 25-23.
Texas (27-3), trying to become the sixth school to win consecutive national titles, had won 23 straight matches since losing to Arizona State in early September.