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OT: Penn State vs. California - NCAA Women's Volleyball Final

The Match: Penn State (31-5) vs. California (30-3)

When & Where: December 18, 2010, 8:30 p.m. ET.; Kansas City Sprint Center

Media Coverage: TV: ESPN2 HD (live); Streaming Video: ESPN3.com ; GameTracker

Match Snapshot

We both have earned the right to be here. You can’t really compare them like that, but I think that [Penn State's loss to Minnesota in five sets in its regular-season finale, compared to Cal's sweep of the Golden Gophers in the Seattle Regional semifinal] helps us with some of our confidence. We know that that team is not unbeatable. (California’s Head Coach Rich Feller, on tonight’s NCAA Final match with Penn State)
I think most matches come down to how the team is playing. So if you’re playing well, you have a chance to win, if you don’t, you don’t. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. We have to play well. The statistics from the beginning of this season for both teams are not as relevant as the post-season statistics, and even those sometimes are misleading. We’ve had matches where we’ve lost the stats and won the match, and vice versa. (Penn State’s Head Coach Russ Rose, on the statistical similarities between California and Penn State).

We’ve posted a Match Preview at http://www.dignittanyvolleyball.com/?p=9906 (it’s a free, no advertising, site). Here are some excerpts:

If you go by statistics, Penn State probably shouldn’t even show up for tonight’s Final match against California. Well, admittedly that is a bit of an exaggeration, but, as Rich Feller pointed out, Cal swept Minnesota in the Regional Semi-Final, while Penn State lost to the Golden Gophers in the last match of the regular season. OK, Penn State’s match was at Minnesota, and Cal’s win was on a neutral court, but a loss is a loss is a loss.

More to the point, Cal hasn’t lost a set in the NCAA Tournament. Penn State has only lost one, but it was at home. Cal is 30-3, led by 5-11 Sr. S Carli Lloyd, who is only the National Player of the Year and a 1st Team AVCA All-American, and 1st-Team AVCA All-American 6-3 Jr. OH Tarah Murrey, who Penn State Head Coach Russ Rose says could have stolen some votes from Lloyd for the National Player of the Year award. Sure, Penn State has 6-5 Sr. Opposite Blair Brown (the Big Ten Player of the Year) and 6-3 Sr. MH Arielle Wilson (both AVCA 1st Team All-Americans), and 6-1 Fr. OH Deja McClendon (National Freshman of the Year), but heck, Cal was ranked #4 in the November 29th AVCA poll, and Penn State wasonly ranked #8.

So, plenty of observers have mailed this in as a victory for Cal. They don’t think Penn State freshmen 6-1 OH Deja McClendon, 6-5 OH Ariel Scott, and 6-6 MH Katie Slay, who against Texas combined for 24 of Penn State?s 45 kills and 12 of 19 blocks (led by amazing Deja, who had 11 kills on 15 swings, no errors, and hit .733 for her season’s best attack %), are likely to repeat that performance. And they don’t believe the Penn State seniors – Brown, Wilson, 5-9 Sr. L Alyssa D’Errico, 6-3 MH Fatima Balza, and 5-1 Sr. DS Cathy Quilico, will be able to make up the difference.

The “Penn State is done” narrative has one more theme: the comparison between the setters for the two teams: Cal’s Carli Lloyd and Penn State’s Kristin Carpenter. During the pre-season, Carpenter wasn’t expected to be Penn State’s setter — she was slotted for duty as a defensive specialist/libero, but she stepped in when other options weren’t working out, and has kept on improving as the season progressed. One observor put it this way: he doesn’t look at her as a setter as much as a great player and competitor who is setting. Listening to the announcers during the Texas match, she clearly has earned the respect of many people in the volleyball world.

But, having said that, Cal’s Carli Lloyd clearly is the better setter, so Cal has the advantage there. As another observer put it, if this comes down to which team has the best setter, Penn State is in trouble. But Kristin Carpenter doesn’t have to be the best setter for Penn State to win — she just has to be good enough.

We think it’s almost a toss-up, with the gravitational pull of the court probably leaning slightly in Cal’s direction. So if we were following our head, we’d say Cal wins in 4 or 5. But we’re fans, and we also know its not just about the players, it’s also about how well those players are prepared, and which team is better able to adjust to what happens during the match.

When adding Coach Russ Rose (who we think is the best coach in Division 1 Women’s Volleyball) and his staff into the calculation, we think the balance tips ever so slightly in Penn State’s direction. So we”re going to go with Penn State, in an Instant Classic, 5-set victory. We’ll be the ones in the intensive care recovery room, with oxygen tubes and all sorts of wires going everywhere, but a happy look on our face

Good stuff, nyline! Looking forward to the game tonight. Unfortunately, I’ll be at a holiday party, so I’ll have to record it and watch when I get home.

Absolutely excellent article on Russ Rose in an espnW article.

Penn State coach Russ Rose: Developing character … and characters

Speaking of espnW…

http://blogs.forbes.com/sportsmoney/2010/12/13/espnw-a-marketing-message-gone-wrong/?boxes=businesschannelsections

[quote=“UncleLar, post:3, topic:1654”]Absolutely excellent article on Russ Rose in an espnW article.

Penn State coach Russ Rose: Developing character … and characters[/quote]

UncleLar: I absolutely love that article. Thanks for posting it.

[quote="UncleLar, post:3, topic:1654"]Absolutely excellent article on Russ Rose in an espnW article.

Penn State coach Russ Rose: Developing character … and characters[/quote]

UncleLar: I absolutely love that article. Thanks for posting it.

Yes, Lar, great post. What a guy to play for. When players are relaxed, they play better.

Yeah this is a great read. “Think about it: What better way to enable female athletes to reach their full potential than to free them from the boundaries society has placed on them for so many generations? Why not give them a place where they don’t have to answer to anyone about anything but their sport and their team? A place where being unique is encouraged and praised?”

[quote=“UncleLar, post:3, topic:1654”]Absolutely excellent article on Russ Rose in an espnW article.

Penn State coach Russ Rose: Developing character … and characters[/quote]

Really good piece. Loved the bit about KG.

[quote="kidcoyote, post:6, topic:1654"]Yes, Lar, great post. What a guy to play for. When players are relaxed, they play better.[/quote]

Yeah this is a great read. “Think about it: What better way to enable female athletes to reach their full potential than to free them from the boundaries society has placed on them for so many generations? Why not give them a place where they don’t have to answer to anyone about anything but their sport and their team? A place where being unique is encouraged and praised?”

If you ever see these girls out and about, you quickly realize how proud these girls are and how comfortable they are in their own skins. I can remember when I was a kid how common it was for tall girls to walk around slouched over. Not this crew. Blair Brown, despite being 6’5", doesn’t think twice about putting heels on when she dresses up. She’s quite comfortable towering over pretty much every guy she’s around. I’d like to think that part of that comes from lessons that Russ has taught them.

Looks like I do not get to see the start of the game as ESPN2 is still showing AL. Okla. St. down here. That stinks.

The end of this basketball game is taking forever. Doesn’t ESPN usually put the start of the next event on ESPN Classic or ESPNNews when a game runs over like this?

What’s up with the chick with the fight gear?

Think Billy Oliver

AS MOSES MALONE SAID FO FO FO!

CONGRATS LADIES 4 X IN A ROW!

Awesome performance, really turned it on at the end to finish them. Have to say that while I only really follow the team once the tournament starts, I couldn’t be prouder of them this time of year the last 4 years. They do the school proud, a total class act (and a damned talented one to boot). :slight_smile:

Question… is 4 in a row more impressive a streak than the Uconn women’s current basketball win streak? I think it’s got to be, but I’m a little biased I guess.

[quote=“Craftsy21, post:15, topic:1654”]Awesome performance, really turned it on at the end to finish them. Have to say that while I only really follow the team once the tournament starts, I couldn’t be prouder of them this time of year the last 4 years. They do the school proud, a total class act (and a damned talented one to boot). :slight_smile:

Question… is 4 in a row more impressive a streak than the Uconn women’s current basketball win streak? I think it’s got to be, but I’m a little biased I guess.[/quote]
4 in a row and 109 wins in a row. UConn has some work to do. Plus UConn has been ducking UT.

The ladies were on a mission the past two games. Congrats to them.

As for UConn wbball and their athletic department for that matter, something’s rotten. There’s always rumor and innuendo surrounding the bball programs in particular and while Geno Auriemma isn’t as slimy as Calhoun I still don’t trust him. It may be personal bias but I always have a knack for reading people and UConn seems to hire people that send a red flag up in my mind.

Very impressed with that performance. Arielle Wilson and Katie Slay were a force up front, and of course Blair Brown had another solid match. One player that really stood out to me in the match was the performance by freshman Deja McClendon. She really came on and provided a boost to morale and team chemistry. she really has a lot of energy and can’t wait to see more of her in the coming years.

4 national title in a row is incredible. Quite simply, the best women’s volleyball players come to Penn St. We are the cream of the crop and we showed again why tonight. It was a tough match, as Cal really gave PSU a scare. After a close first set, in the 2nd set Cal had set point and PSU dug down deep and denied the kills needed to preserve the set. Had Cal won that set point, the match could have went down to the wire. But PSU got it done when they needed to.

Overall, I thought Cal gave a good effort. They played PSU very tough and they showed a lot of emotion and commitment both during the match and after the match. I was particularly impressed with Corree Johnson, #8 on Cal. She made PSU work for a lot of their points. Cal is well deserving of the runner up. But, for PSU it’s time to celebrate another national championship! Woo hoo!

We dominate Women’s Volleyball :o

[quote=“byake, post:17, topic:1654”]The ladies were on a mission the past two games. Congrats to them.

As for UConn wbball and their athletic department for that matter, something’s rotten. There’s always rumor and innuendo surrounding the bball programs in particular and while Geno Auriemma isn’t as slimy as Calhoun I still don’t trust him. It may be personal bias but I always have a knack for reading people and UConn seems to hire people that send a red flag up in my mind.[/quote]

Calhoun, is one story – not sure why they keep him around given his history (of course a couple NC’s help). I’ve always been impressed with Randy Edsall. And I’ve never heard any reason to not trust Geno Auriemma.