Dec. 18, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The seventh-seeded California volleyball team (30-4) fell in three sets (25-20, 27-25, 25-20) to fourth-seeded Penn State (32-5) in the championship final of the 2010 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship at the Sprint Center on Saturday, Dec. 18. The Nittany Lions secured their fourth consecutive NCAA title led by senior Blair Brown, who had 18 kills (6e, 38att, .316) and 10 digs. As 2010 Pac-10 champions, the Golden Bears posted the most wins in a single season by a Cal squad and will finished with the highest single hitting percentage (.308) in program history.
"This team has been so special. They are the most cohesive and hard-working team I've had," said head coach Rich Feller. "I couldn't be more proud."
The Bears maintained a steady threat as senior setter Carli Lloyd notched her 13th double-double of the season on 33 assists and 11 digs. Lloyd completed her career at Cal ranked second for career assists with 5,697 and is only the third setter in program history to log more than 1,000 digs.
Lloyd went to her magnet-junior outside hitter Tarah Murrey-early and often and found her for a team-high 16 kills (8e, 56att, .143). Freshman outside Adrienne Gehan added seven kills (2e, 18att, .278) while sophomore middle hitter Shannon Hawari put in six kills (0e, 16att, .375) to go with six blocks. Hawari's blocking total gave her 131 on the season for sixth most in Cal history. Sophomore middle hitter Kat Brown had five blocks to put her final season tally at 151; fourth most in program history. The Bears out-blocked the Lions, 11-8, in the match. Sophomore libero Robin Rostratter put up 16 digs to finish the season with 495; third most at Cal in a single year.
The Lions found offense from everywhere on the court, led by Brown, but freshman outside hitter Deja McClendon earned Most Outstanding Player honors with 16 kills (6e, 40att, .250). Penn State senior middle hitter Arielle Wilson tacked on 12 kills (3e, 23att, .391) while freshman middle Ariel Scott put up seven kills (3e, 17att, .235). Senior libero Alyssa D'Errico led the Lions with 13 digs.
The Bears snatched the first point of the match, but Penn State broke a four-all tie as Scott recorded two straight kills and never trailed the rest of the way. Hawari's kill pulled Cal within a point at 12-11, and Murrey's cross-court kill kept the Bears within one at 13-12, but the Lions went up by four, 16-12, on an ace by D'Errico. Cal made one more short run to get within three points at 22-19, on a tip-kill by Murrey, but Penn State got a tip-kill of its own by Brown to put the first set away, 25-20. The Bears struggled on the attack in the opening frame to log a .143 rate (11k, 6e) on 35 swings and couldn't keep pace with the Lions' .324 hitting percentage (17k, 6e, 34att).
The teams traded barbs to open the second set to the tune of nine tie scores. The Bears led each time and went ahead by three points, 13-10, as Johnson went down the line for a kill. Cal continued to lead by three, 17-14, when Lloyd dumped her pass to the Penn State baseline for a kill, but the Lions fought back and tied the set at 17-all on McClendon's 11th kill of the night. The Lions pushed, and got a two-point lead, 20-18, before the Bears tied the set for the 11th time on a block by Murrey and Hawari. Penn State broke the 16th tie of the set as Brown went down the line, and stayed on top, 27-25. The Bears started out hot, but concluded the second set with a .250 hitting percentage (18k, 7e) on 44 attacks as the Lions put up a strong block. Penn State took 47 swings and got 19 kills (5e) for a .298 rate.
Cal separated itself from Penn State in the third set when Rostratter served up one of her two aces to grab a 7-4 lead for the Bears. Lloyd and Brown met at the net to reject an attack by McClendon to put Cal up by four points, 10-6. McClendon went wide on an attack to give the Bears a 12-9 lead, but turned around to get a kill on the next rally to spark an 8-0 Penn State run. Murrey's shot off the Lion block snapped Cal's drought and helped the Bears move to within three points at 19-16 on a kill by Gehan, but the Lions were too much as Wilson's slide-play kill gave them championship-point at 24-17. The Bears stayed alive for three more points, but Penn State freshman middle hitter Katie Slay got her only kill of the night on an overplayed dig to give the Nittany Lions a 25-20 win and their fourth straight NCAA title. Penn State had 18 kills (8e, 46att, .217) in the final set and out-paced the Cal attack's eight kills (2e, 42att, .143).
Match and Season Notes:
2010 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship All-Tournament Team