Penn State women's volleyball wins sixth title

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SEATTLE -- Ariel Scott had 21 kills and Katie Slay added 14 more to give Penn State a 3-1 victory against scrappy Wisconsin Saturday night at Key Arena for the Nittany Lions' record-tying sixth NCAA volleyball championship.

Deja McClendon's tap over the net for match point gave second-seeded Penn State (34-3) a 25-19, 26-24, 20-25, 25-23 victory.

"We played hard. You have to give credit to Wisconsin, they're a terrific team and played hard," Penn State coach Russ Rose told ESPN after the win.

It was the Nittany Lions' first NCAA title since their historic run of four in a row from 2007-2010.

The 12th-seeded Badgers (28-10) were the lowest seed ever to make it to the championship match.

McClendon finished with 11 kills for Penn State, which is 6-3 overall in NCAA championship matches. Megan Courtney had 20 digs.

Dominique Thompson had 16 kills for Wisconsin and 5-foot-7 outside hitter Deme Morales added 15.

The Badgers were making their first appearance in the championship match since 2000, when they fell to Nebraska in five sets.

Wisconsin won the third set and strung together a key four-point run to go ahead, 17-15, in the fourth. Ellen Chapman's ace made it 22-19, but a missed serve by Annemarie Hickey hurt the Badgers. Micha Hancock's ace for Penn State narrowed it to 23-22, and Slay's kill down the middle evened it.

Hancock had another ace before McClendon's soft hit fell unreturned for the victory.

Penn State, led by national coach of the year Russ Rose, swept Washington in the semifinals. Surprising Wisconsin downed top-ranked Texas, the defending champion, in straight sets to advance to the final.

Trailing in the third set, Wisconsin pulled in front, 13-12, on Morales' kill before Lauren Carlini and Thompson combined for a block and Morales added another point-winning swing to make it 15-12.

Pushed by momentum, Thompson and Morales combined for the block to go ahead, 23-17, and first-year coach Kelly Sheffield pumped his fist. Wisconsin claimed the set when Cerame Prieto served into the net for Penn State.

The Nittany Lions beat Wisconsin twice in straight sets in the regular season. Overall, Penn State has a 43-7 advantage in the series between the two teams, including a 3-0 advantage in postseason play.

Hancock was named the tournament's most outstanding player, with Slay, Scott and McClendon all-tournament.


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