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Tough love powers Penn State

2014 Division I Women’s Volleyball

Penn State celebrates after clinching the national championship in a 3-0 win over Brigham Young. The Nittany Lions were led by standout Micha Hancock (far right). SHANE BEVEL / NCAA PHOTOS

Because of three early-season losses, Pennsylvania State University finished the regular season ranked only ninth nationally, and was seeded fifth in the NCAA tournament. But the Nittany Lions were the nation’s best team in the last weeks of fall, closing the regular season with 14 consecutive wins and never dropping a set during that streak. The stellar play continued in the NCAA tournament, where Penn State ceded only two sets through six matches, including a 3-0 championship-clinching win over Brigham Young University in Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena. It was the Nittany Lions’ second consecutive title and sixth in eight years.

Much of Penn State’s success can be attributed to American Volleyball Coaches Association Player of the Year Micha Hancock, who finished the season with 41 more aces than any other player in the nation. The senior also finished fifth nationally in assists with 1,439. She credits the tough love of head coach Russ Rose, whose seven national championships are the most of all time, for her impressive career.

“He told me when I first came here that I was going to hate him,” Hancock said after the championship match. “I never did … I knew in the back of my mind that he wanted to make me better.”

The Results

2014 Division I Women’s Volleyball

CHAMPIONSHIP
Penn State def. BYU 25-21, 26-24, 25-14

SEMIFINALS
Penn State def. Stanford 25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21
BYU def. Texas 25-23, 25-16, 17-25, 26-24

ELITE 89 HONOREE
Amy Boswell, BYU

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