NCAA Second Rounds: Nittany Lions advance to Regionals

NCAA Second Rounds: Nittany Lions advance to Regionals

On Saturday night in Rec Hall, No. 7 Penn State defeated Dayton in a 3-1 showdown to advance to the NCAA Regionals (25-17, 13-25, 25-14, 25-17).

For the second night in a row, sophomore Ali Frantti and redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney led the offense with 14 kills each. Whitney also added three blocks and Frantti totaled seven digs.

Senior Megan Courtney consistently contributes to both offense and defense with eight kills, team-high 15 digs and two blocks. Sophomores Haleigh Washington and Heidi Thelen came next, with seven kills each. Washington also had four blocks.

Redshirt freshman Bryanna Weiskircher dished out 46 assists to help the team get to its .369 hitting efficiency. She also had three kills, four blocks and seven digs.

Thelen isn’t usually a name we see at the top of the stat board, but she stepped up and really added to the Nittany Lions’ offensive effort. Weiskircher helped her effort and the other top kill-seekers by setting the ball to a variety of hitters instead of constantly playing off of one or two players.

In the second match, Penn State’s offensive momentum was a bit thrown off but Dayton was on a roll and the team just couldn’t stop them and their .556 hitting percentage.

Nonetheless, Penn State came back with the last two sets and put a halt to Dayton’s long winning streak.

Next, the Nittany Lions travel to Des Moines, Iowa for the NCAA Regionals. No. 8 Penn State will take on Hawai’i at 8:30 p.m. on Friday night.

This makes for the 13th season in a row that Penn State has qualified for the third round of the NCAA tournament.

The past few years, Penn State has seemed to sail through the earlier rounds of the tournament. This year, that road to the championship game isn’t a given.

The team has to treat each game as if it is against the No. 1 seeded team in the tournament.

Hawai’i is coming off an upset win over No. 10 seed Texas A&M and its regular season record was 28-1. The team’s only loss was early in the season against No. 14 seed UCLA.

If Penn State wins the match, the Nittany Lions would play the next day in the quarterfinals against the winner of Illinois and No. 2 seed Minnesota.