UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Deja McClendon posted 20 kills, and Arielle Wilson put back eight of Penn State's 17 blocks to lead the fourth-seeded Nittany Lions to a 3-1 (25-19, 25-18, 23-25, 25-17) win over 12th-seeded Duke in the NCAA Regional Final on Saturday evening in Rec Hall.
McClendon and Wilson combined for 32 kills and only five attack errors as the three-time defending NCAA Champion Nittany Lions (30-5) beat Duke to advance to the NCAA Final Four in Kansas City, Mo. The Penn State victory ends the 2010 season for the Blue Devils (27-7), who advanced to the NCAA Regional Final for the first time in school history.
Penn State, which has not lost an NCAA Tournament match since 2006, will now face the winner of Texas and Purdue in the NCAA Semifinal on Dec. 16.
Duke juniors Sophia Dunworth and Kellie Catanach were both named to the University Park, Pa., Regional All-Tournament Team. Dunworth led Duke with 12 kills against Penn State and had double-digit kills in all four of Duke's NCAA Tournament matches. Catanach, the ACC Player of the Year, averaged 10.31 assists per set for the tournament and posted 55 of those assists in a 3-1 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Missouri.
"I can say for our entire coaching staff how proud we are of our team, how hard they've worked all year and what they've accomplished," said Duke head coach Jolene Nagel, who had led Duke to six consecutive NCAA Tournament berths. "We had no intention to end tonight, and I think they've been a really tremendous, hard-working group. They've built a strong foundation for Duke volleyball for years to come."
Penn State won the first two sets before ACC Champion Duke rebounded for a 25-23 third-set victory. Duke became the first team to win a set against Penn State in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and the first since 2006 to win a game against the Nittany Lions in the NCAA Regional Round.
"It was just us playing for each other," said senior middle blocker Becci Burling on winning game three. "We forgot about who we were playing and where we were playing and just looked each other in the eye and said 'let's go for it.'"
For the match, Penn State totaled 60 kills and only 17 attack errors against the Blue Devils thanks to the play of setter Kristin Carpenter. Carpenter dished out 45 assists as Penn State hit .272 against a Duke defense that held its previous 33 opponents to a combined .169 hitting percentage. Penn State middle blocker Blair Brown, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the University Park, Pa., Regional, was only three blocks shy of reaching a triple-double. The 6-5 senior knocked down 16 kills with 11 digs and seven blocks.
Duke senior Claire Smalzer led Duke with 21 digs and posted a double-double with 10 kills in her final match. Smalzer, who switched to outside hitter for her senior season, ended her career ranked third all-time at Duke with 1,637 digs. Fellow senior Burling knocked down eight kills and finished her career ranked 14th all-time at Duke with 1,157 kills.