Penn State too strong for Hawaii


POSTED: Friday, December 18, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. » This time, Goliath got back up from the fall.

Hawaii took its best shots all night at the St. Pete Times Forum, shots that took down a number of very good teams, including two from the Big Ten last weekend.

The Rainbow Wahine (32-3) finally ran into something they couldn't control: the height disadvantage on the other side of the net.

Hawaii's NCAA tournament run—and 28-match winning streak—crashed into a big blue wall as No. 1 Penn State racked up its 101st consecutive victory. Senior hitter Megan Hodge, the most outstanding player of the two previous final fours, was held to a mortal 12 kills, but her team finished with an otherworldly 15-0 edge in blocks in wearing down the Rainbow Wahine 23-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-18.

The Nittany Lions (37-0) needed 2 hours and 3 minutes to give coach Russ Rose his 1,000th Division I career victory and set up tomorrow's much-anticipated final with No. 2 Texas (29-1). The Longhorns swept into their third championship match via a 92-minute win over Minnesota 25-19, 25-20, 25-15. Penn State is attempting to become the first team to win three consecutive NCAA titles, while Texas is looking for its first championship since it beat Hawaii in 1988.

“;We'll have a great opponent Saturday, just like we had a great opponent tonight,”; Rose said. “;Hawaii didn't do anything we didn't expect them to do; we didn't know they'd do it that well.”;

Hawaii played tremendous defense, finishing with a 75-66 edge in digs, led by Elizabeth Ka'aihue's 18. But digs don't score points “;and we couldn't convert any of those digs,”; said Wahine coach Dave Shoji, 0-5 against Rose. “;What it shows is how good Penn State is.

“;We were doing the things we wanted to do, but we couldn't score.”;

After committing six errors in Set 1, Penn State had a combined six errors the rest of the match.

Although it is of little consolation, Hawaii did something only five other teams had done all season: take a set off Penn State.

“;We knew it was a winnable game,”; Wahine sophomore All-American Kanani Danielson said. “;We knew we had to play the greatest match of the season to beat them.

“;We took a set off of them and knew it was possible. But we knew they'd come back on fire. It was up to us to step up to the plate.”;

Undersized Hawaii struck out. Asked what she would change if she could play the match over, senior Aneli Cubi-Otineru said, “;I wish we were taller. But that's something we can't change. They're big and we did our best.”;

“;I think it came down to size,”; added junior setter Dani Mafua, finishing with her sixth double-double (42 assists, 15 digs). “;The energy we had to exert is (twice) what they have to because of their size.”;

Shoji began the day picking up the national coach of the year award. It ended with his team sharing third for the fourth time since 2000.

“;We really wanted to force a fifth game,”; he said. “;I don't think our team ever gave up. We were determined to turn the match around. We just couldn't.

“;We had a tremendous season. We lost to No. 1, No. 2 (Texas) and Cal, wherever they were ranked (sixth at the time). Being bigger ... maybe that's the key. But we did pretty well with this small lineup. I've very proud of my team.”;

Sophomore hitter Stephanie Ferrell added 13 kills and Cubi-Otineru, in her final match, 10 kills and 11 digs.

Arielle Wilson added 11 kills for the Nittany Lions, Blair Brown 10 and setter Alisha Glass had nine kills with no errors, 41 assists and 11 digs.


Texas 3, Minnesota 0

Senior hitter Destinee Hooker had 17 kills and Juliann Faucett and Ashley Engle 10 each to lead the Longhorns. Hailey Cowles had 12 kills for the Golden Gophers.


NO. 1 PENN STATE DEF. NO. 3 HAWAII 23-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-18
















































































































































































Rainbow Wahine (32-3)
 skeatt pctdbsbapts



Nittany Lions (37-0)
 skeatt pctdbsbapts

Key —s: games; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct: hitting percentage; d: digs; bs: block solo; ba: block assists; pts: points (kills plus blocks plus aces)
Aces—Hawaii (3): Kaufman 3. PSU. (3): D'Errico 2, Shifflett. Service Errors—Hawaii (9): Cubi-Otineru 4, Kaufman, Mafua, Ka'aihue, Brandt, Lee. PSU (8): Glass, Brown, Hodge, Quilico, Ullrich, Carpenter, D'Errico, Shifflett. Assists—Hawaii (50): Mafua 44, Danielson 3, Kaufman, Cubi-Otineru, Lee. PSU (50): Glass 41, Brown 6, Hodge, Quilico, D'Errico.
T—2:03. Officials—Joan Powell, Kevin Cull. A—10,246.