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Wisconsin volleyball falls to Penn State in NCAA championship

A rousing performance saw the Badgers nearly force a five-set match, but the Nittany Lions were ultimately too much to overcome.

Rob Christy - USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin's volleyball team enjoyed a special ride to the NCAA championship, but a matchup with perennial power Penn State was ultimately too much to overcome in Sunday's finals. The No. 2 Nittany Lions clinched the championship after a rousing four-set match at KeyArena in Seattle, defeating the No. 12 Badgers, 3-1 (25-19, 26-24, 20-25, 25-23).

The final was the first between two Big Ten teams. Penn State won its sixth title under legendary coach Russ Rose, while Wisconsin finished as runner-up for the second time in program history (2000 to Nebraska).

Penn State's win streak advanced to 24 matches, though Wisconsin was able to win its first set against the Nittany Lions in three matches this season. The Badgers clinched the third set after dropping the first two. The first was especially close before a 9-4 PSU run put it out of UW's reach. In the second, Penn State looked even stronger, anchored by incredible play from All-American setter Micha Hancock. Behind a ridiculously powerful left-handed jump serve, Hancock was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

In the third set, Wisconsin initially fell behind, 5-1. But after fighting back to gain a 17-12 advantage, the set fell to the Badgers.

Two Wisconsin players -- freshman setter Lauren Carlini and junior outside hitter Deme Morales -- were named to the All-Tournament team.