Penn State tops Iowa State with Gold Medalists in Attendance as Jonni Parker gets 1,000th kill
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Following a season opening tournament in Florida, No. 17 Penn State returned home to Rec Hall, and in front of a near-sellout crowd, the Nittany Lions did not disappoint the home fans as they swept Iowa State.
Tonight marked the first time fans were in attendance at Rec Hall since December 2019. The crowd was electric all match long and gave the Nittany Lions a huge boost.
“It is a privilege to play here at Rec Hall in front of our fans,” senior Jonni Parker said. “It is games like tonight when you realize how much you miss the fans.”
The Nittany Lions entered this game with a record of 3-1 while the Cyclones were 3-0. This matchup marked the first game for the blue and white in the Penn State Classic Tournament.
As for the game, Penn State won the first set 25-18, the second set 25-11 and the third set 25-23.
“I thought it was a great first match at home,” Russ Rose said. “We served and passed well and we did a lot of things we wanted to do in the game plan.”
The Nittany Lions never trailed in the first two sets, however, the blue and white found themselves down 7-2 early in the third set. The Cyclones capitalized on two attack errors by Parker and kills by Candelaria Herrera.
The Nittany Lions would cut the deficit by capitalizing on Iowa State’s mistakes and getting timely kills from Parker and Erika Pritchard.
“We started slow in the third and we had to battle to get back in it and get a win but to bounce back is always a positive,” Rose said.
Parker finished the game with 12 kills, eight digs and three blocks. She also recorded her one thousandth career kill in the first set.
“That is incredible, I am so happy for her,” Gabby Blossom said. “She deserves it and I am lucky I get to set her.”
As for Blossom, the senior setter recorded 32 assists and five digs.
The duo of Parker and Blossom is one of the best, not only in the conference, but in the nation.
“Gabby has my back no matter what and we have built a connection over the past four years,” Parker said.
Leading the way defensively for the blue and white was senior Kaitlyn Hord who tallied seven kills and eight blocks.
Penn State also got contributions on offense from Adanna Rollins and Pritchard as they both recorded seven kills.
For Iowa State, Eleanor Holthous led the team in kills tonight with nine, while Katie Mantz had seven. The Cyclones struggled hitting the ball all night as they hit just .128.
The Nittany Lions had six service aces tonight compared to the Cyclones two. For Penn State, Blossom and Jenna Hampton both recorded two.
Despite the victory Rose still thinks the team needs to improve in certain areas.
“We need to get more production outside of Jonni,” Rose said. “We have to eliminate errors in certain areas.”
Two former Nittany Lions, and gold medalists, Micha Hancock and Haleigh Washington were in attendance tonight. Hancock still holds Penn State’s all-time service ace record while Washington was a three-time All-American.
Both players were a part of the 2014 squad that won the National Championship.
“Having Haleigh and Micha here was incredible,” Blossom said. “Those were the players we were watching growing up and part of the reason we came to Penn State.”
Penn State will look to continue its winning streak when it takes on Oregon State on Saturday.
Alex Rocco is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at email@example.com.