Stanford dominates Penn State to win volleyball national title

By Emily Kaplan

So much for the Miracle at the Pavilion.

The Penn State U. Nittany Lions were ranked No. 12; the Stanford U. Cardinal was the top team in the country.

Penn State struggled with consistency for much of the year; Stanford breezed through the regular season.

The Lions traveled 2,725 miles to get to the Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, Calif., where the Cardinal played on its home court before 6,635.

It would have taken a perfect storm for the Penn State men’s volleyball team to win the NCAA national championship Saturday night. Instead, the Lions were simply out-classed. They fell to Stanford in three sets (30-25, 30-20, 30-18), finishing the season 24-8 with the semi-satisfying title of national runner-up.

“I don’t think we could have asked our guys to do anything much differently,” Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said. “Because I’m not sure there was a team in the country that would have stopped them tonight.”

Propelled by an outstanding performance by outside hitter Brad Lawson — who went off for 24 kills on .821 hitting with just one error — Stanford cruised to its first title in 13 years.

And the Lions just couldn’t keep up.

Penn State hit a combined .222, recording 18 attack errors — compared to the Cardinal’s nine.

“I can’t describe how well they played. It was unreal,” said co-captain Will Price, who led the Lions with 15 kills. “We didn’t end up on the right side of things as far as we’re concerned, but it was intense and got the adrenaline going. It was fun playing that match.”

The Cardinal, meanwhile, had the adrenaline too. It just translated better on the court.

On a team .495 hitting percentage, three players posted double-digit kills while two picked up double-digit digs.

It all culminated into a national championship — a miracle, of sorts, for Stanford.

The Cardinal turned around from a 3-25 finish in 2007 to the national title Saturday night.

“Our guys will have to come back next year and keep working,” Pavlik said. “But right now I am very happy for Stanford and their program. They definitely deserved this.”

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