Women's volleyball downs Dayton, advances to NCAA Regionals

Aiyana Whitney, left, and Nia Grant dominated at the net throughout the Nittany Lions three game sweep of Dayton at Rec Hall on Dec. 6. Penn State will take on UCLA in the NCAA regional semifinal round on Dec. 12. Credit: Curtis Chan / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Fifth-seeded Penn State women's volleyball (32-3) advanced to the NCAA regional semifinals with a straight set victory (25-20, 25-18, 25-16) against Dayton (30-6) Saturday (Dec. 6) evening at Rec Hall.

With the win, the Nittany Lions advance to take on the winner of the Long Beach State/No. 12 UCLA match Friday, Dec. 12 in Louisville, Ky. at the KFC Yum! Center. Making their 12th consecutive trip the NCAA regional semifinals, the Nittany Lions' streak of appearances in the round of 16 is the longest active DI stretch.

Junior Megan Courtney led the offense with 11 perfect swings on .440 hitting, adding six digs and two solo stuffs. Freshmen Ali Frantti and Haleigh Washington tallied nine kills each, while redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney added eight. Senior Nia Grant posted six kills and two aces, while also leading the team with three blocks.

Senior Micha Hancock directed the Nittany Lion offense to a .436 hitting clip, dishing out 36 assists to go along with four kills, eight digs and one block. With three aces, she moved into sole possession of the NCAA single-season 25-point scoring format aces record (118), which was originally set by Christine Edwards (Jackson State) in 2012.

Penn State opened the match on a 5-2 run to take control of an early advantage. The Flyers answered with a 5-3 stretch to shave the margin to one, 8-7. The Nittany Lions regrouped with another 5-2 streak capped off by a kill from Courtney to widen the lead to four, 13-9. Dayton cut off the run with a pair of kills, but the Nittany Lions responded with four unanswered points to move ahead by as many as six, 17-11.

A service error cut off the momentum, 17-12, but Penn State battled to set point, 24-16, helped out by a 7-4 run. UD came storming back with four unanswered points to trim the lead back to four, 24-20, forcing Penn State to call a timeout. Whitney came out of the break with a kill to secure a 25-20 lead in the first set.

Penn State and Dayton traded the lead early in set two before the Nittany Lions broke open a 9-all tie with a 6-2 streak to construct a four-point cushion, 15-11. Washington continued the momentum, sparking a 4-1 strike with back-to-back kills to make it 22-15.

The two teams traded points once more before Whitney put down a kill for set point, 24-17. UD held off one attempt before a kill from Whitney locked up a 25-18 win in the second set.

Penn State came out of the intermission with a 6-1 run for an early advantage in the third set. Dayton followed with a 3-1 spurt to move within three, 7-4, but a kill and block from Courtney extended the lead to five, 9-4. The Flyers responded with a 4-1 strike to drive within two, 10-8. Penn State regrouped with a 5-1 run to surge ahead, 15-9, prompting Dayton to call a timeout.

The Flyers tallied three straight out of the break to come within three, 15-12, but the Nittany Lions surged to match point, 24-16, on a 9-4 stretch. A UD attack error sealed a 25-16 win in the third frame to give the Nittany Lions the straight set win.   

Last Updated December 12, 2014