STANFORD, Calif. -- Evan Romero had 15 kills and national
player of the year Kawika Shoji recorded 44 assists to put
top-ranked Stanford in the NCAA championship with a 3-0 win
Thursday night over Ohio State.
Brad Lawson added 14 kills in the 30-25, 30-26, 30-17 win over
the 10th-ranked Buckeyes.
The Cardinal (23-6) advanced to their first national
championship since winning it all in 1997. Stanford will play Penn
State, which beat Cal State Northridge earlier.
"I try to be as dynamic as I can," Shoji said. "I think I was
a little too excited tonight. Ohio State came out and played well.
We weathered the storm and put pressure on them."
Will Price and Joe Sunder each had 18 kills for No. 12 Penn
State in its 3-0 win over No. 3 Cal State Northridge.
Shawn Sangrey had 12 kills for the Buckeyes (22-8), who had its
12-match winning streak come to an end. Steven Kehoe had 38 assists
and Kevin Heine 9 kills.
Ohio State, the 2000 national runner-up, drew within 11-9 in the
third set before the Cardinal extended their advantage to 26-15 and
then finished it off.
"We knew we had to try and get in front of Romero," Ohio State
coach Pete Hanson said. "We didn't do enough of that."
Earlier, Penn State libero Dennis Del Valle added 17 digs and
setter Edgardo Goas recorded 49 assists in the 30-21, 30-23, 30-28
The Nittany Lions (24-7) won their fourth straight to advance
into Saturday's national championship match against the winner of a
later match between top-ranked Stanford and No. 10 Ohio State.
"This is the toughest grind I've put any of my teams through as
far as travel," Nittany Lions' coach Mark Pavlik said. "It's hard
to win on the road and we had to play those kind of matches. We
passed the first test and the next one will be a lot different."
Jacek Ratajczak had 15 kills for the Matadors (23-10), who were
making their first appearance in the NCAA final four in 17 years.
"We looked like we haven't been here in 17 years," Matadors'
coach Jeff Campbell said. "And they looked like they've been here
every year. We played tight and with some nerves. We didn't start
playing well until the third set."
The Nittany Lions quickly broke out in the third set, taking an
11-4 advantage as Price, Sunder and first-team All-American Max
Lipsitz combined for seven kills during the early run.
Northridge made it 27-26 before Price drove home a shot down the
line for a two-point advantage.