No. 1 Penn State Sweeps No. 12 Hawaii

8/29/2008

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HONOLULU, Hawai'i - The top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team opened the season with a win, downing No. 12 Hawaii in straight sets (25-21, 25-19, 25-19) in front of 7,111 fans on the first night of the Hawaiian Airlines Classic in Honolulu.

"Winning at Hawaii is always a test, and tonight they forced us to play well," said head coach Russ Rose, who begins his 30th season at the helm of the Nittany Lion program. "Tonight we saw a very much improved Hawaii team over last season. They passed well and played hard. They gave us a challenge and we certainly had our hands full. But that's why we come back to play here. The fans respect the game and the players have to do the same."

Junior outside hitter Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) led all players with 13 kills on .375 hitting as senior outside hitter Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) notched 12 kills and senior middle hitter Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) pounded eight kills on .429 hitting. Sophomores Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) and Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) each tallied six kills as Penn State attacked at a .284 clip as a team.

Junior setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) dished out 39 assists and senior libero Roberta Holehouse (Joppa, Md.) provided a match-high 14 digs. Sophomore Alyssa D'Errico (Byron, N.Y.) picked up eight digs, Hodge notched seven and Glass added in six. Penn State outdug Hawaii, 39-32.

The Nittany Lions also won the blocking battle, 5.0 to 3.0. Harmotto, Glass, Wilson and Hodge all posted two stuffs as Brown assisted on one.

Aneli Cubi-Otineru led the Rainbow Wahine with nine kills as Jamie Houston notched eight and Kanani Herring recorded seven kills. Dani Mafua directed the offense with 24 assists and Tara Hittle picked up 11 digs as the libero. Amber Kaufman led the squad with two blocks.

Two Hawaii attack errors, a Harmotto kill and a double block from Harmotto and Hodge gave Penn State the 7-4 lead to start the first set. The Rainbow Wahine pulled back within one with a kill and a Lion error but back to back Hawaii errors and a Hodge kill made it 10-6 and forced a Wahine timeout. After the break, Hawaii scored four of the next five points on kills to pull back within one at 11-10 but a Glass kill halted the run. A Wilson slide kill pushed the score to 13-11 and a Harmotto put-away made it 18-15. The teams traded points and a Wahine attack error forced another Hawaii timeout with Penn State ahead, 20-16. But out of the timeout, the Wahine scored the next three points on two Lion errors and a kill to force a Penn State timeout with the Lions holding the slim 20-19 lead. Out of this break, a Fawcett tip kill over the block pushed the advantage to two at 21-19 and following a Lion error, Penn State scored the next three points on two Wilson kills and a Brown and Wilson block to put the Lions ahead 24-20. Following a Hawaii kill, a Brown put-away ended the stanza, 25-21. Wilson led the Lions with four kills as Holehouse racked up seven digs.

Penn State opened up the second set with a 3-0 lead on a Brown kill, a Hodge and Wilson block and a Hawaii attack error. A Hodge dig-kill made it 6-3 before two Wahine errors and a Fawcett kill put Penn State up 9-4 and forced a Hawaii timeout. A monster Harmotto and Glass block out of the timeout pushed the lead to 10-4 and Penn State maintained the lead, going up 14-11 on a Hodge kill. Hawaii took the next two points to pull within one at 14-13 but the Lions remained on top, pulling away and going up 21-15 on kills from Harmotto and Fawcett and two Wahine errors. After a Hawaii timeout, the teams traded points before a Harmotto kill made it 23-16 and a Wilson slide kill ended the game, 25-19. Hodge led the squad with four kills as Fawcett and Harmotto each added in three.

The third game remained close early on, with three Fawcett kills aiding Penn State in taking the 8-6 lead. Hawaii fought back to knot the game at 10-10 and the Wahine claimed the 12-11 lead aided by two Lion errors. But a Harmotto slide kill tied the game at 12-12 before consecutive Harmotto kills and a Hawaii attack error gave Penn State the 14-12 lead. A Hawaii service error, a Wilson kill and a huge Wilson and Glass block put the Lions up 17-13 before a Hodge kill out of the backrow made it 19-15. A Hodge kill off the block put Penn State ahead 20-16 but Hawaii countered with a kill of its own, and coupled with a Lion attack that sailed long, pulled within two at 20-18. But the Wahine hit the next ball into the net and Hodge buried a kill off a D'Errico set to put Penn State up 22-18 and force a Hawaii timeout. A Fawcett kill out of the backrow followed by a quick Hodge overpass kill put the Lions ahead 24-18, and following a Hawaii block, a Hodge kill ended the game, 25-19.

Penn State continues play in the Hawaiian Airlines Classic with No. 6 UCLA on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 5:00 p.m. HT (11:00 p.m. ET) before closing out action in the Islands with Ohio on Sunday, Aug. 31 at 3:00 p.m. HT (9:00 p.m. ET). Livestats for all matches can be found via a link at www.GoPSUsports.com. The Nittany Lions open up the 2008 home slate with Long Island on Friday, Sept. 5 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Rec Hall.

For more information on the Penn State women's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.

Article courtesy of Penn State athletics.

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