Penn State Women’s Volleyball Takes Down Big 10 Rival
The Penn State Nittany Lions Women’s Volleyball (21-1, 11-1 Big 10) faced off against the #10 ranked Minnesota Gophers (19-4, 10-2 in Big 10 action) Friday night in Rec Hall.
Penn State, fresh off a 4 match road series, including their second loss of the year to Big 10 rival Nebraska, returned home against a strong Minnesota team. Coming into Friday the Gophers were on a 4 game winning streak. The match ended up being an intense back and forth battle between both squads but in the end the Nittany Lions triumphed 3-1.
The match started off with a Minnesota kill via Tori Dixon and Penn State soon found themselves behind 3-0 in the first set before 2 back- to- back kills by Ariel Scott and 2 back- to- back aces by Micha Hancock gave Penn State its first of many leads on the evening. Scott ended up with 7 kills in the set including the set winning kill to help Penn State win the first set 25-21.
Along with Scott’s strong performance Katie Slay showed dominance in the middle tacking on 4 kills and 1 shared block with Deja McClendon, who also had 3 kills in the set herself. McClendon was having a tough time against the Gophers defense.
After the game Penn State head coach Russ Rose said, “Deja wasn’t very patient. She got blocked 7 or 8 times so, she wasn’t really taking her best shots and it frustrated her. Overall though she played well defensively and did a great job passing.”
In the second set, the back and forth battle continued as the match stayed close until the set was tied at 9 apiece. Penn State took the lead on Nia Grant’s kill and never looked back.
Ariel Scott continued her dominance racking up 8 more kills leading Penn State to a 25-19 victory in the 2nd set.
Rose was impressed by Scott’s play in the early going.
“After the first two sets Scott had 15 kills while Minnesota (as a team) had 16 so I thought she did a great job,” said Rose.
Micha Hancock ended up scoring another ace along with 15 assists and a kill in the set. When asked about the chemistry between Scott and Hancock, Scott said, “We were connecting well and had great communication out there. We were pretty happy to be back home.”
Minnesota seemed determined to play better in the 3rd set and it showed off as the Gophers won the set 25-23, leaving the game at 2-1 Penn State. The 3rd set saw multiple ties but after a Deja McClendon kill tied up the set 21-21, Penn State couldn’t grab onto the lead and stalled out. Minnesota had their strongest set of the night with 14 kills and 14 digs to giving the Gophers their lone set victory of the match.
In the 4th set, Penn State took a 3-1 match victory with a 25-21 set victory. Back- to- back kills by Megan Courtney finished off the Gophers and gave the Nittany Lions their 22nd victory of the year and 12th Big 10 victory. Penn State was also given a gift Friday as their chief rival for the Big 10 championship, Nebraska, lost their match against Michigan.
When asked how he feels about Nebraska’s loss Coach Rose said, “I’m not thinking about Nebraska. I was thinking about Minnesota. We go out there to put our foot on the pedal and try to win something. That’s the game plan.”
Zach Hottinger is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.