Seventh Heaven: Penn State Women’s Volleyball 2014 National Champions
Just in case you haven’t heard, the Penn State women’s volleyball team brought home their seventh National Championship title this past weekend.
You’d think they went up against a top-seed team, but no- unseeded BYU made their way to the championship match. They were the first unseeded team to do so in the history of the tournament, but their fairytale journey came to an end as they met Penn State in the final game.
In three straight sets Penn State became the first team in the tournament’s history to win seven titles (25-21, 26-24, 25-14). From the get-go it seemed like the Nittany Lions were ready and determined to put the game away in three.
Penn State held their ground over BYU in the first set and got a feel for the BYU offense, specifically the Cougars’ powerful 6’7” hitter Jennifer Hamson. BYU broke away with a lead early in the second set at 12-8 then battled point for point until the Nittany Lions closed in on the overtime win. The third set was just plain domination on Penn State’s side. The Nittany Lions sprinted with the lead and capitalized on the BYU errors. Senior defensive specialist Dominique Gonzalez ended the match with one final ace.
Redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney and junior Megan Courtney led the offense with 11 kills each. Senior Micha Hancock set up the offense with 36 assists and added one of her explosive aces.
Senior Nia Grant held the team’s best hitting percentage at .500 with nine kills. And senior defensive specialist Dominique Gonzalez anchored the defense with 16 digs and a pretty important ace at the service line.
After a bit of a rough season, Courtney really proved herself in tournament play. She was awarded the 2014 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player for her crucial performances against both Stanford and BYU. She stepped up at the most important time of the year and led her team to victory.
Not to mention her teammate, Hancock, was awarded the AVCA D1 Player of the Year and ended her senior season as the leading player in aces.
This title makes Penn State the back-to-back title winners of 2013-14 and their sixth title in the past eight years. There are a bunch of cool random facts surrounding this seventh title win but at the end of the day it’s all about this 2014 Penn State women’s volleyball team.
From the start of the season with a few new freshmen added to the starting line-up, Penn State had to overcome obstacles of communication and adjustment on the court. The team had a rocky start compared to past seasons (yes, three losses is considered “rocky” for the Penn State program) but with dedication and practice they overcame the issues early on.
The team will miss the graduating seniors as they start training for next season, but for right now, let the victory celebrations ensue.