No. 1 Ranked Women’s Volleyball Stump Rutgers on Senior Night
UNIVERSITRY PARK, Pa. – Before you could blink, this match was over and an easy victory for the Nittany Lions.
The No. 1 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions season is winding to a close, but on senior night Saturday, the Blue and White dominated. Penn State made quick work of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, winning in straight sets 3-0.
Eight seniors were honored before the game for their efforts over the last several years. Haleigh Washington, Simone Lee, Abby Detering and Ali Frantti were among the eight and some of the most important contributors this season. Jen Halterman, Lainy Pierce, Clare Powers and Heidi Thelen were also honored.
Penn State, 22-1 coming in, were riding a 12-game winning streak, having not lost since the end of September at home to Nebraska. The Nittany Lions sit comfortably at the top of the Big Ten Standings and are one of only two NCAA Division I teams with one loss. They defeated Michigan State on the road on Wednesday in four sets.
Rutgers, however, has had a far different year than Penn State and sits at the bottom of the Big Ten. They came in with a record of 5-20 and were 0-13 in conference play.
The first set was exactly like it should have gone between two polar opposites. Penn State was dominant all the way through, with Lee and Washington playing huge at the net.
Early errors from the Scarlet Knights, their lack of communication and four service aces from the Nittany Lions didn’t help Rutgers get back into the set. Detering and Tori Gorrell each put home three kills, while Washington led the way with five.
From the start of the set, Penn State began running away with it and exerting their size and force up front at the net. They distributed the ball all around, with six Lions registering kills. Penn State hit .737 as a team and rolled the first set 25-9.
The second set was identical to the first. Both teams got off to competitive starts, tied at four, but Penn State took control again. Rutgers remained contagious, committing countless mistakes. They surrendered a total of eight attack errors, three service errors and gave up a whopping 10 service aces to Penn State.
The Nittany Lions, led by Washington’s team leading eight kills, found stride again and didn’t even need to use full force or effort. Rutgers practically gave them the set and looked outmatched from the start.
Penn State ran away quickly, jumping to a 20-7 lead. Head coach Russ Rose did a nice job of putting usual backups Powers and Cami May in the match. The Blue and White jumped up two sets to none with a consecutive 25-9 set win.
The third set got off to a more competitive start, with Rutgers coming as close as one with the score 10-9. It was pure domination by the Nittany Lions from there on as they ran away again and locked things down.
More bench players got in the match, including Halterman, Kristin Krause and Emily Sciorra. The Nittany Lions hit .567, recorded nine blocks and racked up an incredible 12 service aces, coming mostly off poor communication from the Scarlet Knights. Errors and mistakes, combined with a far less talented team than Penn State’s, doomed Rutgers from the start and they fell handedly 25-12 in the third set and were swept for the match.
Rose was proud of his seniors’ play afterwards, but was quick to look ahead to the future.
“It was real nice evening for those guys,” Rose said. “It’s the end of a week where we have to refocus and get ready for our next match.”
The loss for Rutgers moved them to 5-21 and 0-14 in Big Ten play. Penn State improved to 23-1 and 13-1 in conference play.
The Nittany Lions will travel to Iowa City next Wednesday for a 9:00 p.m. meeting with the Iowa Hawkeyes. Penn State defeated Iowa at home 3-1 at the end of September.
Matthew Harvey is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and history. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.