Bows fall short vs. towering Penn State

December 17, 2009, 12:38 PM HST · Updated December 18, 5:54 PM
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By Fred Guzman
MauiNow.com

In the beginning, Hawaii made things interesting. Very interesting. To the point of initially silencing an arena packed with Penn State fans.

But, in the end, the Nittany Lions were simply too big, too strong and too talented for the gritty but under-sized Rainbow Wahine.

Penn State regrouped after dropping only its sixth set of the entire season, extending its record victory streak to 101 matches and moving to within just one more win of capturing an unprecedented third straight NCAA women’s volleyball title.

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By defeating Hawaii 23-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-18 last night, Penn State earned a berth opposite No. 1 Texas in Saturday’s title match in Tampa. The Longhorns swept Minnesota 25-19, 25-20, 25-15 in the other semi.

The Nittany Lions improved their season record to 37-0 at the expense of Hawaii, which had its own winning streak ended at 28 to finish the season with a 32-3 record under Dave Shoji, who earlier in the day was named national coach of the year.

Kanani Danielson, Hawaii’s sensational 5-10 sophomore all-American, had 14 kills, while sister sophomore Staphanie Ferrell added 13. Aneli Cubi-Otinero closed out here career with 10 kills and 11 digs.

But their efforts were not enough to offset Penn State’s huge size advantage, resulting in a 15-0 edge in blocks and yet another victory for what many consider to be the best volleyball team in NCAA history.

NFL NETWORK: For the first time in NFL history, two teams have reached this late point in the season with perfect records.

Yet, most of the nation – including most of us here in Hawaii — were not and will not be able to watch either of them play this week because both of the games involving the unbeaten teams will be aired on the NFL Network.

Last night, the Indianapolis Colts improved to 14-0 and extended their NFL-record regular-season winning streak to 23 games with a 35-31 shootout road victory over Jacksonville.

Peyton Manning threw for 308 yards and four touchdowns, including a 65-yarder to Reggie Wayne to go ahead for good. The game featured 714 yards, 43 first downs, 10 lead changes, six punts, several big plays and just two turnovers.

But not having access to the NFL Network, most of has had to settle for watching highlights of an obviously entertaining game.

On Saturday, New Orleans will risk its 13-0 mark against the Dallas Cowboys, who are battling to preserve their playoff hopes and trying to reverse a recent history of December swoons. The Saints can clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Cowboys are one game back of Philadelphia in the NFC East.

That game also will be available only on the NFL Network.

As a result, the TV pickings are slim for this Sunday, with only Cincinnati’s visit to San Diego registering high on the must-see register.

PREPS: The Baldwin Invitational — a four-team, round-robin event — tipped-off last night. In the opener, Seabury Hall rallied for a 37-36 win over Kamehameha-Maui despite a 23-point performance by Terani Richmond of the Warriors. In the late game, the host Bears defeated Kohala 51-32. Today’s matchups: Kamehameha vs. Kohala at 5:30, followed by Baldwin vs. Seabury at 7 o’clock.

The Lahainaluna tournaments for boys and girls tip off tonight at the Lahaina Civic Center. In addition to the host Lunas, the field will feature the defending state D-II champion Molokai girls and Big Island girls powerhouse Konawaena, as well as visiting California teams from Crescenta Valley, Redondo Beach, Chino, Richmond, Colony and Marin Catholic.

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