|AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli|
Last night in front of a mostly hostile crowd in Sacramento, California the Lady Lions volleyball team did what they did all season long. They took care of business. And in doing so they secured the second national championship for the program by beating the number one seeded Stanford Cardinal.
In a match that featured six all americans on the court the two teams battled back and fourth like a pair of heavyweight boxers standing toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring exchanging blows. Penn State won the first two games (30-25 30-26), but they could have easily gone either way as both teams were playing well after overcoming some pregame jitters. Both teams shot poorly in game one, but Penn State played their best defense of the year digging out everything Stanford could throw at them.
After the intermission Stanford came out determined not to go down without a fight. They turned time and again to their star, Foluke Akinradewo, who registered 18 kills in the match. Along with the inspired play of Cynthia Barbosa who had 16 kills of her own the Cardinal took game three. Penn State shot poorly (.140 hitting percentage) as they struggled to handle the Stanford serves. It was the first game Penn State had lost in the entire tournament.
In Game four Standford came out and grabbed the momentum hitting .535. Akinradewo and Barbosa were stellar again as Penn State continued to struggle to get good attacks. Megan Hodge did her best to keep her team alive with kill after kill, but it just wasn't enough. When Stanford tied the match at 2 apiece the home Cardinal crowd came to life and it appeared Penn State was not going to be able to recover. Everything was going Standford's way.
When Stanford overcame a 0-2 deficit to take a 4-3 lead in game five it looked like it was all over. But Penn State regrouped and came out swinging led by Hodge once again. Penn State went on a seven point rally to take a commanding 10-4 lead with two kills each from Christa Harmotto and Alisa Glass. Penn State would never look back until Hodge registered her 27th kill of the match to close out the game 15-8.
The National Championship is Penn State's second with the first coming in 1999. It's the third national championship for a Penn State squad in 2007 joining the Men's Gymnastics and Fencing teams which won it all back in the spring.
Congratulations to the Lady Lions. They were fun to watch all year long and they make all of us proud.WE ARE PENN STATE!