Strong defense leads Penn State women’s volleyball to third-consecutive conference win over Rutgers

Story posted October 23, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Molly White

Despite a slow start in Big Ten competition, No. 13 Penn State knocked the dust off to tally another win at home.

The Nittany Lions entered conference play with an undefeated record, ranked No. 9 in the country with an 11-0 record. The blue and white quickly lost its momentum with back-to-back losses to Michigan and Wisconsin, being swept by both teams.

Since then, Penn State has slowly begun to find its groove, now heading into the second half of its in-conference schedule sitting at 17-4 and 6-4 in the Big Ten.

Rutgers was unable to snap its seven-game losing streak, as it fell to 7-15 on the season and 1-9 in the Big Ten.

The Nittany Lions came out swinging, further proving why they are one of the greatest offensive teams in the NCAA.

Penn State sophomore Cassie Kuerschen wasted no time on a rally, as she tallied a career high of four aces on the day.

Graduate student Kashauna Williams, who currently leads the team with 228 kills, put the Rutgers defense on ice throughout the match, tallying eight more to her name; three of which coming within the last five points of the second set. 

Williams was one of four Penn State players to get eight kills on the day. Junior Allie Holland, graduate student Katie Clark and senior Zoe Weatherington all paid their dividends in contributing to the sweep over the Scarlet Knights.

Clark was right on the money, as she shared the game-high of eight kills with three of her teammates, but was the only player to hit above .700.

None of this would have been possible without graduate student setter Seleisa Elisaia, who had 33 assists to an offense that produced a total of 41 kills.

Although Penn State’s hitters had an exceptional performance, it was the blocking that truly set it apart. The Nittany Lions had all five of their hitters and their setter record at least two blocks throughout the match.

As a team, Penn State is ranked third in the Big Ten in total blocks, averaging 2.8 blocks per set.

Holland and Weatherington were an exceptional defensive duo at the net, each tallying seven blocks through three sets.

“[Weatherington] is just great to block next to, she always sets up a great block which makes my life a lot easier,” Holland said. “Being able to block next to a great pin-blocker makes the biggest difference in my blocking.”

Although the Scarlet Knights found themselves unable to earn a win for themselves, the Nittany Lions most definitely had their work cut out for them.

Setter Lauren Delo played like a professional, having six digs and 20 assists, setting her offense up for success.

Taylor Humphrey had the magic touch as she tallied a game-high of 10 kills on a team that only recorded 27 kills through three sets. On Humphrey’s heels was Tina Grkovic, who had five.

Despite pulling through with their offensive weapons, the Rutgers defense was unable to carry its own weight, only tallying four blocks on a kill-heavy team.

Penn State has a busy road ahead, as it heads to Illinois Wednesday before hosting Ohio State back at home on Saturday.

Former All-American for Penn State, Katie Schumacher-Cawley, has had a great start to her first season at head hoach, as she continues to lead the Nittany Lions to success.

“[Elisaia] set a great game, and I think the middles, from Friday to now, are doing a great job of scoring and blocking, and finding ways to win,” said Schumacher-Cawley. “It’s great to celebrate this win, but leaving this room, we’re onto Illinois.”

The Nittany Lions are face-to-face with redemption, getting a second chance against the teams that have bested them thus far.

Molly White is a junior majoring in kinesiology. To contact her, please email