No. 2 Women’s Volleyball Sweeps Yale in Home Opener
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The No. 2 Penn State women’s volleyball team took down Yale (4-2) in three straight sets; 25-9, 25-21, 25-11, during its home opener at Rec Hall on Friday evening of the Penn State Classic. This was the eighth straight win for Penn State and moved the team to an 8-0 overall record.
Simone Lee, Haleigh Washington and Heidi Thelen led the offensive momentum throughout the night by producing 25 of the team’s 38 kills. Yale aimed to keep the evening competitive with 29 kills of their own, but could not hold the same momentum as Penn State.
“It was great to be home,” head coach Russ Rose said. “The energy from the band and the crowd makes a big difference in how the kids feel about their efforts.”
The energy was evident not only in the building but also on the court, as the Nittany Lions scored nine points within the first 12 minutes of the night.
With four blocks from Washington, favorable errors from Yale and kills from Lee, Thelen and Abby Detering, the Lions took the first set, 25-9.
Although noticeably dominate in the first, the second set proved to be tighter competition for the Lions.
“We served and passed well (in the first game),” Rose said. “The second game we stalled a little bit.”
The second set was a back-and-forth game of rally until the Lions ultimately secured the 25th point. With a serve in to the net from Washington, Yale took the first point, but were quickly matched as they passed the second serve out of bounds.
Offensively, Penn State was gaining points. Defensively, they were letting Yale score as well by letting up 16 kills. This was the most Yale had achieved, compared to six and seven in the first and third set, respectively.
“I don’t think it was a matter of speeding things up,” Rose said. “but (Yale) passed a little better. We had aces in the first game that we didn’t in the second.”
A second win looked promising for the Nittany Lions, however, after Tori Gorrell secured the 21st point. With a serve in to the net and lack of control from Yale, the set was the Lions.
Composure and offensive control came back in the third set for Penn State with a quick 5-1 lead from a kill from Lee and solid blocking from Detering and Washington.
Washington commanded a dominating presence in the third with a combination of blocks and kills to give Penn State a 17-7 lead.
Not once did Penn State lose their lead in the set, thanks to a strong blocking presence from Washington, Lee and Gorrell. With an individual block by Gorrell, Penn State led 19-7.
Due to a missed dig from Kendall White and two out of bound hits from Lee and Detering, Yale gained three points. However, a kill from Frantti and block from Washington kept the spirits alive and the Lions cruised to a 25-11 win.
Washington had eight kills, 11 attempts and seven blocks to set the tone for her last home opener as a Nittany Lion. Although not noticeable on the court, she feels the wear and tear that the sport takes.
“My body hurts a lot more (than freshman year),” Washington said postgame with a laugh. “I don’t come back as well. I cool off and I think ‘wow, I’m old’.”
Through it all, she thanks the environment that is Rec Hall for the energy to be a strong player. Washington ended the evening with a .727 hitting percentage.
Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions have a quick turn-around as the Penn State Classic continues with a 10 a.m. match against Wake Forest on Saturday.
Hannah Riden is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.