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Florida State falls to Minnesota in NCAA volleyball; Penn State advances to Final Four

Texas’ Destinee Hooker goes for a kill against Nebraska’s Lindsey Licht, right, and Kori Cooper during the Longhorns’ victory. Texas faces Minnesota in a national semifinal Thursday in Tampa.

Associated Press

Texas’ Destinee Hooker goes for a kill against Nebraska’s Lindsey Licht, right, and Kori Cooper during the Longhorns’ victory. Texas faces Minnesota in a national semifinal Thursday in Tampa.

MINNEAPOLIS — Florida State fell one match short of reaching the national semifinals at the NCAA volleyball champion­ships in Tampa, losing 3-1 to Minnesota in a region final Saturday.

Florida State (31-3), the ACC champion and No. 3 overall seed, rallied to win the third game after falling behind 2-0 but could not catch up and lost 25-20, 25-7, 18-25, 25-17.

Minnesota (28-8) dominated the second game with 15 kills and just one error, compared with four kills and seven errors for the Seminoles.

"It's a little bittersweet because we got into a runaway train tonight and couldn't get back on track completely," FSU coach Chris Poole said. "We really challenged the girls between (Games) 2 and 3 to come out and show what they were made of, and I think they did, and I am very proud of them."

The Golden Gophers, seeded 11th, take on No. 2 Texas, which ousted Nebraska on Saturday, in the national semifinals at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.

Former Palm Harbor University High standout Christine Tan had 24 digs for Minnesota. Senior Mira Djuric led the Semi­noles with 11 kills.

This tournament run was by far FSU's best; the Seminoles had never gone beyond the second round and had been 1-11 in 11 previous appearances.

Penn State hits 100

GAINESVILLE — The team Florida's Mary Wise referred to as possibly the best women's college volleyball team of all time is coming to Tampa this week.

Penn State, the No. 1 team in the nation, continued its run toward history with its 100th consecutive victory, 3-0 over No. 9 seed California (25-18, 25-17, 25-22) in a region final at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

The Nittany Lions (36-0) advanced to the Final Four in Tampa. Penn State is the two-time defending national champion, trying to become the first team to win three in a row. Its winning streak is the second longest ever in Division I team sports, behind 137 straight match wins for Miami men's tennis.

"I thought it was another tough match against a great opponent," Penn State coach Russ Rose said. "I feel bad that we keep meeting Cal every year, but I recognize when you get towards the end of a tournament, the top teams are going to play each other."

Cal (21-11) and Penn State have met three consecutive times in the postseason — two years ago in the national semifinals and last year in the region final.

Cal tested Penn State in the final set, leading 12-8 at one point. But PSU's Blair Brown (13 kills, four digs) and Megan Hodge (14 kills, seven digs) were too much down the stretch.

"I'm very proud of the way my team fought and went toe-to-toe with a very good Penn State team," Cal coach Rich Feller.

Penn State's players said they know it doesn't get any easier, but they'll arrive in Tampa with a ton of confidence — and talent.

"We're playing very well right now," Hodge said.

TEXAS 3, NEBRASKA 1: The Longhorns (28-1), the No. 2 seed, reached the Final Four over the No. 10 Cornhuskers 21-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-27 in Omaha, Neb.

Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report.

Florida State falls to Minnesota in NCAA volleyball; Penn State advances to Final Four 12/12/09 [Last modified: Sunday, December 13, 2009 10:44pm]
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