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Penn State wins second NCAA title

December 16, 2007|From the Associated Press

SACRAMENTO -- Penn State played near-perfect volleyball in an amazing run, winning its second NCAA Division I women's title while dropping only two games in six tournament matches.

The third-seeded Nittany Lions upset top-seeded Stanford on Saturday night at Arco Arena, getting 26 kills from Megan Hodge and 19 from Nicole Fawcett against the same school they defeated for their first championship in 1999.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet that we won," Hodge said. "It's surreal. I'm on a high."

A day before her 21st birthday, Fawcett served on match point and Penn State (34-2) capped its 26th consecutive victory on another powerful kill by tournament most valuable player Hodge, winning, 30-25, 30-26, 23-30, 19-30, 15-8, three months to the day after losing a five-game match to the Cardinal -- the last defeat for the Nittany Lions.

"We just talked coming in about how we were going to win," Fawcett said. "So, we just had to go back to how we were playing in the first two games. There was no way we were going to lose it."

National and Pacific 10 Conference player of the year Foluke Akinradewo and conference freshman of the year Alix Klineman each had 18 kills for the Cardinal (32-3), which tried to become the first team since UCLA in 1991 to rally from a two-game deficit to win.

Penn State Coach Russ Rose had no intention of shutting down Stanford's stars. What his team did was keep points alive by chasing down loose balls and hitting the floor for athletic digs to end Stanford's 12-game winning streak and deny the Pac-10 its sixth title in seven years.

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