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Volleyball enters Sweet 16 vs Penn State

After putting together their best performance of the year in a sweep at #9 Creighton, the road gets just a bit tougher for Husky Volleyball.

Washington (20-12, 10-10 Pac-12) faces 8th-seeded Penn State (25-7, 14-6) in the regional semifinal round in Palo Alto, CA at 3 PM Pacific on ESPNU. Top-seeded Stanford (30-1, 20-0 Pac-12) will then face #16 Washington State (24-8, 13-7 Pac-12) at about 5:30 in the second semifinal (ESPN3), with the winners meeting Saturday at 7 PM on ESPNU.

Washington is one of four unseeded teams to make the Sweet 16, joined by San Diego (beat #11 USC), Michigan (beat #12 Pitt), and Florida (beat FGCU, which had previously defeated #13 UCF).

Sweet 16 Schedule (all games on Friday, 12/7 and listed in Pacific Standard Time):

  • 9 AM, ESPNU: #14 Marquette vs #3 Illinois (Champaign, IL)
  • 11 AM, ESPNU: #10 Kentucky vs #7 Nebraska (Minneapolis, MN)
  • 11:30 AM, ESPN3: San Diego vs #6 Wisconsin (Champaign, IL)
  • 1 PM, ESPNU: Michigan vs #5 Texas (Provo, UT)
  • 1:30 PM, ESPN3: #15 Oregon vs #2 Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
  • 3 PM, ESPNU: Washington vs #8 Penn State (Palo Alto, CA)
  • 3:30 PM, ESPN3: Florida vs #4 BYU (Provo, UT)
  • 5:30 PM, ESPN3: #16 Washington State vs #1 Stanford (Palo Alto, CA)

Elite Eight Schedule (all games Sat, 12/8):

  • 1 PM, ESPNU: Champaign Regional Final
  • 3 PM, ESPNU: Minneapolis Regional Final
  • 5 PM, ESPNU: Provo Regional Final
  • 7 PM, ESPNU: Palo Alto Regional Final

Scouting Penn State

Much like the Huskies, the Nittany Lions are extremely young after graduating a decorated senior class. Kills leader RS #9 Jonni Parker, named the Freshman of the Year in both the Big Ten and the AVCA Northeast Region, headlines their #1 recruiting class.

PSU brings a much more potent block than either of UW’s first two opponents did, averaging 2.87 blocks/set, 6th in the country. PSU has 3 players fighting for two spots at MB, with junior #11 Tori Gorrell, freshman #16 Serena Gray and freshman #23 Kaitlyn Hord. Hord and Gorrell have been the starters in their first two postseason games – Gray offers a bigger block than Gorrell (1.25 to 1.00 B/S) but has struggled to hit consistently, as her .325 hitting percentage is quite poor for a middle blocker. Random fact: Gray and UW MB Marin Grote were both in the top 25 of PrepVolleyball’s Senior Aces list and played on the same club team at the same time (San Gabriel Elite in Los Angeles).

Where can the Huskies attack PSU? Serving. Penn State as a whole is not bad in serve-receive — much better than UW, in fact — but UW is an elite serving team, and there’s a weakness to go after. OH #43 Taylor Leath is responsible for 34 of Penn State’s 73 reception errors (aces allowed) this season. Washington should repeatedly serve Leath when she’s in the back, while also avoiding serving at 2-time All-Northeast libero #3 Kendall White if possible.

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