Penn State Women’s Volleyball Defeats LIU-Brooklyn, Moves on in NCAAs
The LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds were by no means, strangers to high-pressure moments throughout the year. The Blackbirds (23-8) took a set from No. 5 nationally ranked Florida earlier in the season, as well as one set from Oklahoma, who’s also made the tournament field.
LIU gave everything they had, but eventually fell to the No. 2 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in straight sets, 25-21, 25-21, 25-14, on Friday night.
Penn State head coach Russ Rose understands his team cannot afford a similar effort for their second-round matchup with Utah on Saturday night.
“They (LIU) do the things that they do well,” Rose said after the match. “We had a lot of examples of people not being ready to play and if we play like that tomorrow against Utah, we’ll probably be disappointed with the outcome.”
One Nittany Lion that was spot on from the beginning, was senior middle hitter Katie Slay. Slay finished with eight kills on the night, with five coming in the second set.
“I thought Katie did a nice job of hitting and blocking,” Rose said. “She’ll have to be better tomorrow.”
One of the reasons LIU caused a lot of problems in the first two sets was their ability to hang with the much taller front line of Penn State. The Blackbirds front line in the middle stacked up at 5’9’’ and 6’1’’ as opposed to 6’6’’ and 6’4’’, but still managed to put up a good effort.
Penn State found themselves down 11-9 in the first set, but the attacking efforts from sophomore outside hitter Megan Courtney and senior outside hitter Deja McClendon gave Penn State a grind-it-out 25-12 first set victory.
Much was the same in the second set, but Penn State never surrendered the lead, after gaining a 9-7 advantage from back-to-back attack errors from junior Annika Foit. However, Penn State never had a lead more than four throughout the set.
LIU ran out of gas in the third set, as both teams emptied their bench late. Four kills from senior Ariel Scott paced the Nittany Lions onslaught ending the LIU season.
One moment Rose noted afterwards was the service ace by senior and State College native Maggie Harding that ended the game. Harding has seen minutes sparingly throughout her entire career at Penn State.
“I was really happy that Maggie could come in as a senior and score an ace in an NCAA match,” Rose said.
“It was pretty fun and it’s just great to play at home,” Harding said.
For sixth year head coach Kyle Robinson, this was a great experience for a team he has a lot of confidence in can stack up with the best in the country.
“When you set out on this journey, you talk about playing the best,” Robinson said. “We had that opportunity today and we gave them a heck of a match. Are we sad we’re going home? Absolutely. We’re not going to hold our heads though.”
Ryan Stevens is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.