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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 5, 2010

College volleyball: Penn State brings experience to NCAAs


Associated PressSTANFORD, Calif. (AP) Will Price drove more than an hour to attend his club team practices and played on his high school coed team b

STANFORD, Calif. Will Price drove more than an hour to attend his club team practices and played on his high school coed team because there weren't enough boys to form their own.

The senior opposite hitter developed into an All-American at Penn State and played with U.S. Junior National teams. Now, he'll be helping the Nittany Lions try to win their third overall NCAA championship and first since 2008 when the Final Four begins Thursday.

Third-seeded Penn State (23-7) meets second-seeded Cal State Northridge (23-9) in one semifinal, while top-seeded Stanford (22-6) plays No. 4 Ohio State (22-7) in the other. The championship is scheduled for Saturday.

Playing coed volleyball was more fun than competitive for Price. After all, he once bloodied the nose of a young female player with a big kill.

Price's father, Mark, played club volleyball at Virginia Tech and his older brother, Andrew, played at Penn State. Andrew Price is currently a graduate student at Stanford.

The Nittany Lions enter with the most postseason experience among the Final Four. They're here for the 12th consecutive season and the 25th time overall. Penn State and BYU are the only men's teams outside California to win an NCAA title.

"It's calming factor that we've had big-game experience," said Penn State senior Max Lipsitz, a three-time All-American. "At the end of the day it's good competition, but it's just a volleyball match. If we play well we'll be in good position."

Cal State Northridge reached the Final Four for the first time in 17 years. The Matadors, led by senior All-American middle blocker Kevin McKniff, received the lone at-large bid after dropping the MPSF championship match to Stanford.

The Matadors beat Penn State earlier in the season.

"We're more excited than anything," McKniff said. "We're not overwhelmed or scared. We are not going to be uncomfortable playing them again."

The Matadors played a tough schedule because their league features most of the highly ranked teams in the country. They were 19-7 against top-15 teams.

"That's an advantage, but whether it will play out or not we don't know," Matadors' coach Jeff Campbell said. "When we play well, we're serving and passing well and it will come down to that again."