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Preview: NCAA volleyball West Lafayette Regional

  • December 6, 2012 - 9:50 PM

SEMIFINAL ONE

PENN STATE VS. KENTUCKY, 4 P.M. FRIDAY

Penn State at a glance: The nation's top-ranked team has won 10 matches in a row and made the NCAA tournament field for the 32nd consecutive year. The Nittany Lions (31-2) went 19-1 in Big Ten play to win the league title; their sole loss came at 10th-ranked Nebraska on Oct. 28. Right-side hitter Ariel Scott, the Big Ten player of the year, averages 3.64 kills per set. Teammates Deja McClendon (3.25 kills per set), Katie Slay (1.35 blocks per set, .430 hitting percentage) and Micha Hancock (11.26 assists per set, 74 aces) joined her on the All-Big Ten team.

Kentucky at a glance: The Wildcats (22-10), unranked in the most recent poll, beat East Tennessee State and Ohio State in the first and second rounds to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year. Outside hitters Whitney Billings and Ashley Frazier are their top two hitters. Billings leads the team with 3.00 kills per set and has 35 aces, while Frazier contributes 2.92 kills per set.

SEMIFINAL TWO

GOPHERS VS. PURDUE, 6 P.M. FRIDAY

Gophers at a glance: Last weekend, the 11th-ranked Gophers (26-7) swept Liberty and beat No. 21 Creighton 3-1 to make the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year. They are 7-7 in regional semifinals and finals. They defeated Purdue 3-1 on Oct. 20 and have a 43-28 record against the Boilermakers. The Gophers are hitting .301, the fifth-best mark in the nation, and middle blocker Tori Dixon is ranked second in the nation in hitting percentage (.441).

Purdue at a glance: A second-round upset of No. 9 seed Florida State put the Boilermakers (23-10) into the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in the past eight seasons. Ranked 22nd in the nation, they finished fifth in the Big Ten with a 12-8 conference record. Outside hitter Ariel Turner, a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team, averages 4.42 kills per set; she has 1,881 career kills, second-most in program history, and 1,015 career digs.

RACHEL BLOUNT

Saturday's championship: 3 p.m. • TV: ESPNU (Saturday only); live video, ESPN3 (Friday only)

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