Penn State Sweeps Indiana
University Park, Pa, -- It was breast cancer awareness night at Rec Hall and the Nittany Lions used the momentum from a packed crowd to beat the Indiana Hoosiers. Jonni Parker helped propel the Nittany Lions to victory with 16 kills as No. 4 Penn State (18-3, 9-2) swept Indiana (13-9,4-7) 25-18, 25-19, 25-18 in straight sets Friday night.
The Nittany Lions got off to a hot start in the first set opening the game with a 7-1 lead, which forced Indiana to call a timeout. Penn State head coach Russ Rose said, "I thought we needed to play well, and we came out and played really in the beginning of the first game.” Indiana, who came into the game looking to bounce back after being swept by Maryland earlier this week was able to regroup and make the remaining of the game more competitive. Despite the Hoosiers’ small comeback in the first set, Penn State still managed to win the game by maintaining possession and allowing Nia Reed, Kaitlyn Hord and Parker to manage the attack.
Penn State struggled to open up the second set as Indiana grabbed a quick lead 11-8. However, the Nittany Lions were to gain the lead with a scoring streak after calling their only timeout of the game. The Nittany Lions would go on to win the second set 25-19. The difference in the game was Penn State’s overwhelming balanced attack and few errors. The team had 48 kills and only 15 errors compared to Indiana’s 33 kills and 19 errors.
The final set was all Penn State as the Nittany Lions jumped out to an early lead and did not give up. Hord and Gabby Blossom lead the way in hitting percentage for the Nittany Lions, swinging at .776 and .500, respectively.
Blossom, who is a freshman made her first collegiate start tonight against the Hoosiers. When Rose was asked about the decision, he said, “I think she connects with her hitters really well. She identified to me earlier this week that she has been a back row player for a couple of months, so I thought if she could handle more than being a back row player. But, she was brought in to play. I didn’t tell her she was going to play immediately, and that she was going to have to work hard to earn her role in this program.” Blossom did just that with leading the team with 41 assists and also had 12 digs. Blossom said, “It was exciting, but we had to come in and get the win and my teammates passed really well, which made my job easy.”
Penn State had to switch the lineups around today due to injuries. Rose said, “we haven’t had a single week this year with the entire team healthy and have been limited by people being dinged up. It’s still a team game though and we need contributions from everybody.” The Nittany Lions balanced attack has been the difference all season as they have five different athletes lead them in kills.
Penn State will have a tough matchup tomorrow night against No. 17 Purdue. Rose said, “We have Purdue coming in tomorrow, who hasn’t lost since the last time we played them. They have two of the top hitters in the conference, so we are going to have to play better tomorrow than we played this evening.”
Tomorrow’s matchup is set for 8 p.m. at Rec Hall.
Matthew White is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism with a double minor in Spanish and Business. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.