Penn State faces stern test in women's volleyball final

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SEATTLE -- Whatever the result in the final, it has already been a special postseason run for 12th-seeded Wisconsin.

The Badgers are the lowest seed to make the NCAA women's volleyball championship match after upsetting No. 1 defending national champion Texas in the semifinals. Wisconsin (28-9) is proving that even a team without overwhelming size up front can still have success in the NCAAs.

But the Badgers made it clear Friday they are not just satisfied with what they have accomplished heading into the final tonight against No. 2 Penn State. They don't want to be remembered as the plucky team that got hot in the tournament only to fall short in the championship match.

"I don't think they're satisfied at all. I think a lot of people think they've been satisfied for a while now and I think the depth of their hunger is surprising some people," Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield said. "We got in [Friday] and they seemed like the same group they've been the past few weeks. They know the opportunity, we all know the opportunity that's in front of us. "

For the Badgers to cap their run it means solving Penn State (33-2) and a long history of dominance the Nittany Lions have over their conference foes and on the NCAA stage. Tonight will be the ninth time Penn State has played for a national title, winning five previous championships. The Nittany Lions have won 19 of their past 21 matches against Wisconsin, including two 3-0 wins against the Badgers in Big Ten Conference play this season.

"Wisconsin always plays hard. They may be a little bit smaller than some other teams, but they sure play hard with a lot of heart," Penn State's Dominque Gonzalez said. "You could see it [Thursday] out on the floor. They didn't care they were undersized at all. They wanted to win and they fought for it. I think that's notable in our eyes, and we're going to have to go strong and compete."

The Nittany Lions are coming off one of the most overwhelming performances of the season, never letting hometown Washington into the match in a 3-0 sweep in the semifinals. It was their 24 consecutive victory, having not lost since Sept. 27 against Michigan State.


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