Three was unprecedented, four may be unbeatable. Despite losing All-American players and seeing their 109-match winning streak end, Penn State put another one in the record books and swept Cal State 3-0 to win their fourth consecutive NCAA Division I national title. Sigh.
In case you didn’t see it, Cal State had the second set in their grasp and let it slip away. It was toward the end of that set more than at any other time during the match that you could see the benefit of Penn State having been in the finals for three previous years. They simply didn’t get flustered, no matter what the situation.
I suppose after coming from an 0-2 deficit against Texas last year fighting off two set points against Cal this year didn’t seem like a big deal. Cal on the other hand was clearly rattled by Penn State’s rallying rather than rolling over, and when a ball dropped needlessly between two players it was clear the match had turned.
The Penn State win over Cal State is representative of a recent shift away from the traditional powerhouse schools in California and Hawaii, a trend embodied not only by Penn by also by Nebraska, Florida and many other central and Eastern schools.
Penn State’s 1999 NCAA volleyball title marked the first time in the tournament’s 18 year history that a school outside of California or Hawaii had won that title, and their current four-year streak signifies the increasing diversification of women’s volleyball power.
The final AVCA Coaches’ Poll of 2010, unsurprisingly, put Penn State at No. 1 and Cal State at No. 2. My pick to win it all, Florida, ended up at No. 8. Rounding out the top 10 were USC, Texas, Stanford, Washington, Nebraska, Illinois and Minnesota.
Penn State will definitely be a team to watch next season, as they had amazing performances from freshman players throughout the NCAA tournament. This year’s seniors won a championship every year they were at Penn State, and I’m sure next year’s seniors will want the same thing. We’ll have to see how recruiting goes.
Check out Volleyball-life.com starting in January for coverage of the NCAA Division I Men’s Volleyball season!
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