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Defending champs too much for volleyball

BY EVELYN LAU | NOVEMBER 09, 2009 7:20 AM

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In front of a record volleyball crowd inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, defending two-time national champion Penn State kept the third-longest NCAA winning streak alive on Nov. 7.

With 2,802 fans in attendance, the top-ranked Nittany Lions (26-0, 14-0) defeated Iowa (11-15, 3-11), 3-0, for their 90th-consecutive victory dating back to 2007.

The crowd broke the former record of 2,191, set against Wisconsin on Oct. 13, 2007. For many players, seeing that many people pack Carver-Hawkeye Arena was a great feeling.

“It was exciting to be able to feed off their energy and also give them a great game,” senior outside hitter Amiee Huffman said. “They came out to support us, and we obviously wanted to play hard for them and for ourselves, and we really fed off each other.”

In contrast, the loss was the fifth-straight for the Hawkeyes this season.

Despite the disappointing result, head coach Sharon Dingman said she was still proud of her team’s effort in the loss.

“There was some really good volleyball going in,” she said. “In the third set, [fans] saw Penn State morph into a national championship team. I think we got a little fatigued, and I think that’s OK. We had to play really, really hard.”



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Junior middle blocker Becky Walters and Huffman led Iowa with seven kills, while junior Mara Hilgenberg dished 21 assists, and senior libero Christina Meister had 15 digs.

On the other end, Penn State senior outside hitter Megan Hodge had 12 kills, while senior setter Alisha Glass added 36 assists, and junior libero Alyssa D’Errico had 15 digs in the win.

Earlier in the season, Iowa was the first team to take a set from Penn State, ending a streak that included 141 consecutive sets won by the Nittany Lions.

Over the weekend, the Hawkeyes opened the match with a 3-3 tie in the first set. However, the Nittany Lions used an 8-3 run to pull away, 11-6.

With Iowa down 23-13, the Hawkeyes used a 4-0 run with four kills to get within 23-17. But it wasn’t enough to rally as Penn State took the first set, 25-17, and a 1-0 match advantage.

The Nittany Lions boasted a .438 attack percentage, a significantly higher ratio compared to the Hawkeyes’ .184.

In the second set, Iowa took an early 7-3 lead. Penn State responded by going on a 7-0 run to take the 10-7 edge.

Throughout the set, both teams traded points before coming to a standstill at 17-17. A 6-2 run gave Penn State a 23-19 favor, but Iowa score the next two points before trailing, 24-22.

Despite the Hawkeyes attempt to steal the set, the Nittany Lions took the set point afterwards, 25-22, and the 2-0 lead.

In the decisive third set, the Nittany Lions started quick. Although getting within 8-7, Iowa couldn’t stop an 8-0 run that saw Penn State go up 16-8, and eventually win the set, 25-13, and seal the 3-0 victory.

During the final set, Penn State hit .200 while holding Iowa to minus-.121 in the victory. The Nittany Lions were credited with 10 total team blocks as opposed to Iowa’s four.

Underdogs throughout the match, senior outside hitter Megan Schipper said she thought the Hawkeyes still matched up well with the Nittany Lions.

“It felt good to be on the court,” Schipper said. “We were intense. We were into the match. We were focused. Penn State decided to block the crap out of us in the third game. We just couldn’t get around their block, and that was the biggest thing.”


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