Sluggish Lions knock off Northwestern in straight sets
Penn State cruised in straight sets last night, as they defeated Northwestern in Rec Hall. Penn State was lead by Micha Hancock and Aiyana Whitney who combined to give the Lions their 16th win on the season.
Penn State (16-2, 4-1 B1G) took set one in a back-and-forth opening frame. Penn State started out sloppy with a serving error, which tied the score, 2-2. They had four errors in the first set, which caused Nittany Lion head coach Russ Rose to not be pleased with his team’s energy to start the match.
“I don’t think anybody came ready to play. We had no emotion, no real leadership out there, I was pretty disappointed,” said Rose. He also added that he was not pleased with how his team has been blocking in the previous matches.
Penn State recorded only four blocks, while Northwestern (13-4, 3-3 B1G) had two blocks. There were several long volleys in this set, with Penn State coming away with the point each time. The Nittany Lions recorded 14 kills, led by Megan Courtney with seven. Penn State would finish strong and take the set, 25-20.
Penn State started out slow once again in the second set, falling behind 3-0. Whitney agreed with Rose, and she thought her team’s effort was not there.
“It was not our best that is for sure, we all around lacked emotion. Energy wise if we don’t pick that up, the game could have easily gone the other way,” said Whitney.
Penn State played several true freshmen in the match. Freshman Lainy Pierce saw her first Big-Ten action of the season, being used for special serving situations throughout the match.
Penn State went on a 21-11 run to make the score 21-14. Penn State’s Ali Frantti recorded one of her six kills to give the Lions the lead at 23-15. Penn State would score its final two points on Northwestern errors, taking the second set 25-17. Rose was disappointed with his teams play, along with their mental play.
“I thought there were plays where people had no idea what was going on. Just because you win doesn’t mean that you know what is going on,” said Rose
Penn State cruised in the third set, winning 25-17. Whitney and Hancock led the lions in the decisive set. The Nittany Lions continued to wear down the Wildcats, dominating each set more than the previous. Hancock registered four aces in the match, which keeps her atop the leader boards in the country. Hancock averages 1.05 aces per game, and has 59 on the year. Despite the win, Rose says that his team will go hard in tomorrow’s practice.
“Tomorrows practice will be way more rewarding to me than tonight’s game was,” said Rose. “We will go hard tomorrow in practice. I want to find out who wants to play.”
Penn State takes on Illinois this Saturday at 4 p.m. at Rec Hall. Northwestern travels to Columbus to take on Ohio State at 5:30 p.m.
Zach Rittle is a senior broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.