They Meet Again
The flights are booked for Oklahoma City, Okla. where Penn State will face No.1 Stanford in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament this Thursday night. It’s been nearly three months since the two teams met and the Nittany Lions have improved quite a bit since their last encounter.
Stanford accounts for one of the three losses in Penn State’s 34-3 record. The teams last met in early September at Stanford. The Nittany Lions were thrown off their No.1 thrown that day and have been working their way back to the top ever since.
Stanford beat Penn State in five sets in one of the most exciting matches of the season (25-18, 23-25, 22-25, 25-16, 10-15). Penn State had more team totals in kills, digs, assists, aces and errors. Stanford did tally more team blocks than Penn State, but the Nittany Lions’ downfall were errors and the timing of those errors. Stanford was able to capitalize on those mistakes while maintaining a strong offense.
For the rest of the season Penn State improved their offensive communication and technicality. They’ve carried on an 18-game winning streak and hold on to that momentum going into this game.
Penn State is coming off a big win over No. 4 Wisconsin in the quarterfinal game last Saturday. The team’s quick offense made for many team kills, which counterbalanced for the unusually high number of team errors.
Looking into the Stanford game, Penn State needs to continue to put up big numbers of kills, limit attack errors and improve its blocking game.
Stanford defeated No. 8 Florida on Saturday in a 3-0 sweep in the quarterfinal game. While both team’s statistics seem pretty even, the only big difference is, once again, in errors. Stanford’s strong point is their ability to capitalize on opponents’ errors while limiting their own.
Another little fun-fact, Penn State and Stanford are the only two teams in the nation with six national titles each. This year, one will end up on top and both teams are hungry for seventh heaven.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 Texas battles it out with BYU at 7 p.m. on Thursday following by Penn State and Stanford at 9:30 p.m. Tune into ESPN2 for coverage of both games.