No. 1 Penn State Feeds Off Sold-Out Rec Hall, Sweep No. 2 Stanford
No. 1 Penn State finished out the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge on Saturday night at Rec Hall defeating No. 2 Stanford in straight sets in a rematch of the 2014 NCAA national semifinal.
The crowd of 6,000 at Rec Hall was roaring throughout the match, something that Penn State head coach Russ Rose commented on after the match.
“The hero of the game is the 6,000 people who came out and made the building electric,” Rose said. “That’s the story, we’re the recipient.”
Despite the crowd, Stanford got off to a good start in the first set, but Penn State quickly pulled back within a point. Throughout the set, the two teams battled with Stanford leading most of the time.
Penn State was finally able to take the lead when Stanford let the ball drop between two players at the net making the score 21-20.
The Nittany Lions allowed Stanford to tie it up on the next point, but the tides started to turn at that point.
Penn State won the next four points and the first set 25-21, after a Stanford net violation on the first set point. Haleigh Washington shined in the first set with a game-high seven kills.
The second set was almost a mirror image of the first, but with the roles reversed.
This time, Penn State got an early lead, and was up 10-4 at one point.
However, Stanford wouldn’t go down quietly, and rallied back to tie the match up at 15 apiece after an attack error by Ali Frantti.
The set stayed close afterwards, but Penn State began to pull away and got to set point on an out of bounds Stanford attack that made it 24-20.
It looked as though Penn State closed out the set on a Haleigh Washington kill, but it was ruled out of bounds, making it 24-21.
Unfettered by the call, Penn State won the set 25-21 on the next point with a Frantti kill.
The third set was the closest of the match with neither team leading by more than a point until Stanford went up 13-11 on a kill by Jordan Burgess, but a pair of kills by Frantti quickly tied it back up.
Penn State rode that rally to a 16-13 lead, capped by a block by Frantti and Heidi Thelan.
From there, Penn State was dominant. The Nittany Lions went on to win the set 25-18, finished off by an ace by Megan Courtney.
After the match, Courtney spoke about how the crowd helped throughout the game.
“You make an error and the next play you make a great play and the crowd is right with you again,”Courtney said . “It’s great to know that no matter win or lose a point they’re always going to have your back and they’re always trying to make sure that they’re known to the other team.”
The Nittany Lions return to action next Friday against Eastern Kentucky in the opening game of the Golden Dome Invitational at Notre Dame.
John McHugh is a junior at Penn State studying Broadcast Journalism. Follow John on Twitter at @JohnMcHughPSU.