TAMPA, Fla. - Penn State became the first team to win three straight NCAA women's volleyball titles Saturday night, overcoming a two-set deficit to beat Texas and extend its record winning streak to 102 straight games.
Megan Hodge led the Nittany Lions (38-0) with 21 kills, including the final one that touched off a wild celebration at midcourt.
"Blacked out," Hodge said. "I was asking everybody after the match what happened on the last play. I don't remember."
Penn State's 22-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-13 win helped it stake a claim as one of the greatest volleyball teams in NCAA history.
The winning streak is second in Division I team sports behind the Miami men's tennis program's 137 straight victories from 1957-64.
"Not a lot of people have done stuff like that," Penn State coach Russ Rose said. "I got a cigar with my name on it tonight."
It marked the first time during Penn State's 101-match winning streak that the Lions dropped the first two sets.
The Nittany Lions became only the third team to rally from a 2-0 deficit in the championship. The other two were Hawaii against Southern Cal in 1982, and UCLA against Long Beach State in 1991.
The Nittany Lions led by 22-19 in the first set and were on the brink of going ahead early. Then Texas called time out, regrouped, and rallied for six straight points to put Penn State behind, an unfamiliar position during most of its incredible run.
"We were playing pretty perfect," Texas' Ashley Engle said. "I think we stunned Penn State a little bit."
The Nittany Lions had only lost six sets this season entering the final match, although one of those came in the semifinals against Hawaii, before dropping the first two to Texas.
They would rally gain.
Penn State regained its serving prowess and cruised through the next two sets and had only a few miscues in the final set before closing out the Longhorns.
Destinee Hooker had a game-high 34 kills for Texas, which was trying to claim its first volleyball title since 1988. She was selected as the tournament's outstanding player.
"There was nothing I wanted more than for them to win the championship," Texas coach Jerritt Elliott said. "The ball bounces a funny way sometimes."
The Nittany Lions were just too much.
Penn State hasn't lost since falling to Stanford in September 2007.
"It was the hardest fight we've had in our lives," Hodge said. "But we're so happy right now."