The No. 1 Penn State women’s volleyball team will take on No. 5 Nebraska at 7 p.m. ET in the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship Semifinal Match in Kansas City, Mo., at the Sprint Center.
Then-No. 2 Penn State Nittany Lions fell 3-0; 26-24, 25-19, 25-20, to then-No. 14-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Big Ten opener for both squads at Rec Hall on Friday evening.
Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wis.) recorded a double-double for the Nittany Lions, putting down a team-high 15 kills and scooping up a season-high 13 digs. This was Lee’s second double-double of the season.
Nebraska was on fire offensively, putting down 21 kills in both of the first two sets, and 17 in the third and that proved to be one of the biggest difference makers in the match. Penn State put down 38 total kills on a clip of .227, but the Huskers tallied 59 on a high mark of .347.
The Huskers used a strong serving and passing performance to bolster their effective attack, siding out at 73-percent for the entire match. Penn State finished the match with a 61-percent mark.
Penn State opened the 2017 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship at home, hosting the First and Second Rounds. In the opening match, Penn State took on Howard. Penn State hit .333 in the match, as Haleigh Washington had 13 kills, Ali Frantti added 12, and Tori Gorrell added 11 on a .714 clip. The Nittany Lions also held Howard to just .085 hitting, including .000 in three of the four sets. In the lone dropped set, Howard hit .355. Penn State took the match, 3-1; 25-10, 22-25, 25-15, 25-16.
In the Second Round match, the Nittany Lions hosted in-state foe Pittsburgh. Penn State again saw three players in double-figure kills. Simone Lee led with 19 kills, adding four blocks. Haleigh Washington followed with 16 kills, and seven blocks, while Ali Frantti added 14 kills and five blocks. Penn State out-blocked Pitt, 17.0-5.0. The Nittany Lions took the match, 3-1; 25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 25-19.
Since the Nittany Lions were the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, with opening weekend wins, they earned the privilege of hosting the University Park Regional. Penn State welcomed Missouri in the Third Round, and swept the Tigers, 3-0; 25-17, 25-18, 25-19. Lee again led the way with 15 kills, while Frantti tacked on 11. Abby Detering added a double-double with 13 assists and 10 digs.
In the Regional Final, Penn State played a familiar foe in Michigan State and in back-to-back nights, Penn State recorded a sweep; taking down the Spartans; 3-0, 25-23, 25-17, 28-26. Lee earned Most Outstanding Player of the Regional honors after putting down 12 kills and scooping up 10 digs. Washington recorded 10 blocks on the day, adding five kills, and found herself on the Regional All-Tournament Team. Fellow senior Ali Frantti joined her fellow seniors on the All-Tournament team after adding eight kills and 10 digs to help lead the Nittany Lions to an NCAA Semifinal bid.
With a win on Thursday, Penn State would make it to their 11th NCAA national final appearance. They would take on the winner of No. 3 Florida and No. 4 Stanford at 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 16. The match will be broadcast on one of the ESPN’s channels, specifics are still to be determined.