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Florida Gators volleyball team loses to Penn State in NCAA Tournament

GAINESVILLE — There was a point late in the second set Friday after a questionable call didn't go her way when Florida volleyball coach Mary Wise squatted down and mouthed to an official, "Help me out, please, just one time."

Wise probably isn't the only coach who has felt that way when facing Penn State.

The top-seeded Nittany Lions improved their win streak to 99, defeating the Gators 25-12, 25-18, 25-21 in front of 3,405 at the O'Connell Center in the NCAA Tournament's Round of 16.

Penn State (35-0), No. 1 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, faces No. 10 California (21-10) at 4 p.m. today for a berth in next week's national semifinals at the St. Pete Times Forum. Cal beat Baylor (24-10) in the first match.

"There was nothing that Penn State did that surprised us," Wise said. "If you didn't have to play against them, you had to sit back and admire how talented they are. Hat's off to the best team in women's volleyball."

Penn State won the first two sets handily. But the No. 14 Gators (25-6) fought back in the third, taking an early lead then pulling to 23-20 after falling behind. But Penn State's ball control, stellar passing and ability to dominate above the net was too much.

"Florida did a good job of defending us and doing what they did well," said Penn State outside hitter Megan Hodge, who had a match-high 20 kills. "It was good for us to come out and really push through those first two games and really get a good lead."

Florida senior Elyse Cusack had 15 digs to become the SEC's all-time leader with 2,138.

Seminoles advance

MINNEAPOLIS — Florida State beat Kentucky 16-25, 26-24, 25-17, 19-25, 17-15 to reach its region final. The Seminoles (31-2) play at 6:30 tonight (ESPNU) against the winner of the late match between Minnesota and Colorado State.

Tied at 15 in the final set, Stephanie Neville's kill and Duygu Duzceler's ace ended it.

"It was really just two good offenses out there," FSU coach Chris Poole said. "Neither one of the teams could stop the other one very often."

Information from Times wires contributed to this report.

Fast Facts

Women's volleyball championship

When: Thursday (semi­finals) and Dec. 19 (final)

Where: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa

Who: Teams have not yet been determined.

Tickets: (813) 301-2500 or sptimesforum.com

Florida Gators volleyball team loses to Penn State in NCAA Tournament 12/11/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 12, 2009 5:23pm]
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