Penn State Women’s Volleyball Survives Late Rally to Defeat Northwestern
Before the Nittany Lions even took the court last night for their second-to-last Big Ten conference match of the season, senior right side hitter Ariel Scott was presented with a golden volleyball for surpassing 1,000 career kills.
Scott and the rest of head coach Russ Rose’s squad then carried that golden play into their match within the friendly confines of Rec Hall, as they beat the Northwestern Wildcats 3-1 in four sets (25-17, 25-18, 31-33, 25-20).
In the first set it was all Penn State thanks in large part to the stellar play of outside hitter Megan Courtney. The 6-foot-2 sophomore tallied six kills on just nine attempts for a .667 hitting percentage.
With an ace in the first set to put the Nittany Lions up 4-1, junior setter Micha Hancock set the Penn State women’s volleyball all-time record for aces with 236.
The Wildcats competed hard in the second set and kept the score close in the beginning, but in the end the No. 2 Nittany Lions pulled away to go up 2-0.
Penn State utilized its size to its advantage, recording three blocks to control the pace of play. The trio of Nia Grant, Katie Slay and Deja McClendon were just too strong at the net for Northwestern to get anything going offensively.
A marathon ensued in the third set, as the Wildcats lead for the majority of the game. Then, down 16-20, Penn State stormed back to regain the lead 21-20. However, the Nittany Lions failed to take advantage of several set-point opportunities losing 33-31.
The Wildcats competitive play carried into the fourth set, but Penn State’s talent overcame its plethora of mistakes to win the set and the match.
Grant was the difference maker for the Nittany Lions in the fourth set. Her energy led to big plays on both sides of the ball. Individually, Grant’s two fourth-set kills were integral to the victory.
Courtney led the Nittany Lions finishing with 21 kills for a .356 hitting percentage and 17 digs.
With the win, Penn State extended its match winning streak to 16, bringing their record to 25-2 overall, 16-1 in the Big Ten and 12-1 at home in Rec Hall.
The Nittany Lions close out their home season with senior night tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. as they take on the Illinois Fighting Illini at Rec Hall.
Tyler Feldman is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and business management. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.