Penn State women’s volleyball rebounds with a sweep over Illinois

Story posted October 9, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Kasey Kreider

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After a heartbreaking loss to Ohio State two nights prior, No. 13 Penn State (14-3 overall, 3-3 Big Ten) bounced back Sunday with a decisive 3-0 sweep over Illinois (8-8 overall, 3-3 Big Ten).

The Illini kept the match competitive through all three sets, with the first two frames each being 25-22 decisions in favor of Penn State. The third set is when the Nittany Lions put their stamp on the game, picking up a 25-19 victory to complete the sweep.

“It was a great team win,” coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley said. “Illinois is a great team, they’re gonna get their wins and we’re happy to have won at home.”

The three-set victory for Penn State saw contributions from all over the court, as outside hitter Kashauna Williams recorded a team-leading 15 kills, while freshman hitter Alexa Markley set a new career-high with 10 kills in the match.

“Every time [Alexa] comes in, she brings great energy. I think that’s a big help, especially in the Big Ten, especially when the crowd is loud and we’re gonna have that every single night.” junior libero Maddy Bilinovic said.

Markley’s presence was felt early and often, as she led Penn State with four kills in the first set. A 7-0 run helped give the Nittany Lions a 17-10 advantage, with middle blocker Allie Holland recording a service ace to force the Illini to burn a timeout.

Illinois came out of the timeout strong, however, as it went on a 10-3 run to knot the opening set back at 20-20. A service error shifted the momentum back in favor of the Nittany Lions, and a double-block from Williams and Holland wrapped up a 25-22 victory.

The second set saw the scrappiness of both teams on full display, as the teams went back and forth through long rallies in a frame that saw three lead changes and 10 ties.

“At times in the past, we’ve struggled with the long rallies and always talking to each other,” Bilinovic said. “I think today showed that our hard work outside of game day has paid off.”

The hard work paid off in the form of a 5-0 run, which gave Penn State a 21-16 lead that it would not relinquish throughout the remainder of the set. Williams recorded eight of her 15 kills in the second set alone.

In the decisive third set, Penn State kept a steady advantage most of the way, once again reaching a lead of 17-10. Unlike the first set, the Nittany Lions gave no opportunity for Illinois to get back in contention, as the Illini never got within four points the rest of the way.

In addition to Williams and Markley, Holland turned in a very efficient performance, recording eight kills while hitting .727 and also leading the team with five blocks.

Middle blocker Katie Clark was also forced to step up following an injury to outside hitter Zoe Weatherington, and she recorded four kills, three coming in the final set alone.

“It’s gonna take all 17 of us to be able to come out with the wins,” Clark said. “So it’s just really exciting to see everybody come in and you know that they’re gonna do their job.”

Penn State will return to the court on Friday, kicking off a three-game road trip with a matchup against Nebraska.

Kasey Kreider is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email