Penn State Defeats No. 15 Purdue 3-1 on Senior Night
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — No. 8 Penn State (19-4) triumphed over Purdue (16-7) in front of a jubilant Rec Hall crowd on senior night, 3-1 (25-17, 25-21 L, 25-18, 25-15). The win marks two in a row for the Nittany Lions, following a tough loss at then-No. 8 Nebraska, 3-2.
Coming out hot right out of the gate, Penn State utilized its dangerous front attack, as sophomore setter Gabby Blossom connected with fellow sophomores Serena Gray and Allyson Cathey early and often. Senior Keeton Holcomb and fellow senior Kendall White combined for some excellent back row play, with White posting 29 digs herself.
Penn State head coach Russ Rose attributed the offensive success to the team’s excellent back-row defense and passing.
“We held up well passing and defending, and that gives us way more opportunities,” Rose said.
Despite their hot start, the Nittany Lions dropped a sloppy second set to Purdue. Blossom was distributing her sets well, but the Boilermakers adjusted after their first-set loss by getting their blocks up much more quickly. Some key kills by sophomore Grace Cleveland let Purdue jump ahead early.
But according to White, Penn State was not deterred despite the slow start.
“Even if we were down a set, we were playing with confidence tonight,” White said.
Penn State would go on to handily defeat the Boilermakers in the third set, 25-18, as the front row once again found its rhythm. What really did it for Penn State down the stretch were some key rallies at which sophomore sensation Jonni Parker was at the front of. Parker found her rhythm hitting the ball as the game went on.
Riding on the momentum of their third-set moment, the Nittany Lions handily defeated Purdue in set four, thanks to a dominant effort by the front row that was supported by excellent back-row passing and defense: a typical recipe for success.
Penn State will look to continue its hot play going into a slew of Big Ten games, starting with a road trip to face Illinois.
David Saggio is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.