Sweet 16 Match Preview: Penn State vs. UCLA

What: #8 Seed Penn State vs. #9 Seed UCLA

When: Friday, December 9, 2011 5:00 p.m. ET

Where: Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, KY

Media: ESPN3.com

About Penn State

The Daily Collegian has done a great job covering Penn State’s first two matches in the NCAA Tournament.  Today’s article –“Freshmen hitters step up in first two rounds,” by Stephen Pianovich, is worth reading, as is yesterday’s “Lions clinch two wins.”  Our favorite quote is from Russ Rose, after the Delaware match, talking about Katie Kabbes, whom we’ve always respected:

The good thing is that we got an opportunity for a number of players to get a chance to play.  It was nice that Katie Kabbes in her last play at Penn State and in her last swing was able to get a kill in a career that maybe wasn’t high in statistics, but it was certainly a classy career that she had.

+1 on that!

In the first two rounds, Penn State once again was led by 6-4 So. Opp/RS Ariel Scott (28 kills, hitting better than .450) and Deja McClendon (an off-night on Friday, 16 kills and a .524 attack % against Delaware on Saturday). As a team, Penn State hit .337 on Friday night and .426 on Saturday night (when four players had an attack % of .450 or better). 6-2 So. OH Maddie Martin, 6-6 So. MH Katie Slay, 6-5 Fr. OH Aiyana Whitney, and 6-2 Fr. MH Nia Grant had a combined total of 40 kills for the weekend (out of Penn State’s total of 93 kills).

With the win, the Nittany Lions earn the right to take on UCLA (26-6) in the Sweet 16 — its ninth consecutive trip to the Regional Semi-Finals.  The match will be streamed live on ESPN3.com (Saturday’s Regional Final match will be broadcast live on ESPNU).  For what it’s worth (really not anything other than historical interest), Penn State is 4-6 all-time against UCLA.

About UCLA

We confess to not having seen UCLA play, and to not knowing much about it (inexcusable, we know!).  We do know that their RPI was 15 (Penn State’s was 11), the AVCA Poll ranked them 4th (to Penn State’s 9th), and Pablo ranked them 13th (to Penn State’s 3rd).   For the rankings of the entire Sweet 16 field, see the table below.

In UCLA’s second-round match against San Diego, 6-3 So. MB Mariana Aquino totaled 9 kills (.571 attack %!) and 11 blocks (the Bruins totaled 17 blocks as a team, which tied their season best).  Both 6-3 Jr. OH Rachael Kidder and 6-5 Jr. OH Tabi Love (familiar to Penn State fans from her two seasons at Minnesota) had 17 kills and 6 blocks in the match.  5-7 Sr. L Lainey Gera led the team with 23 digs, while 5-11 Jr. Bojana Todorovic registered 13.  5-11 Sr. S Lauren Van Orden had 47 assists, 8 digs, 5 blocks and 3 kills, while leading the Bruins to a .268 attack %.

Video Jukebox

Here are two post-2nd round videos (one for each team):

Penn State Video

Pennsylvania State University Official Athletic SitePennsylvania State University Official Athletic Site, partner of CBS College Sports Networks, Inc. The most comprehensive coverage of Pennsylvania State University Athletics on the web.

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UCLA Video

University of California- Los Angeles Official Athletic SiteUniversity of California- Los Angeles Official Athletic Site, partner of CBS College Sports Networks, Inc. The most comprehensive coverage of University of California- Los Angeles Athletics on the web.

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2011 NCAA Tournament: Sweet 16

RPI Pablo RankingAVCA PollConferenceRegionalSweet 16Regional Final
Texas22-41225Big 12Lexington
Penn State23-781139B1GLexington
Ohio State19-14unseeded483228B1GGainesville
Iowa State22-543614Big 12Minneapolis
Florida State24-612102321ACCMinneapolis
Pepperdine22-615161118West CoastHonolulu
Kansas State20-10unseeded263436Big 12Honolulu
Average: unseeded teams in Sweet 16nana2624.423.8nana
Average: seeded teams not in the Sweet 16na9.810.613.212.4nana
Average (for seeds 1 through 16)na8.59.010.1910.69nana
Average: Sweet 16nana13.8113.6914.25nana