No. 3 Women’s Volleyball Sweeps Northwestern
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Nittany Lion women’s volleyball team (13-1, 3-1 B1G) went 3-0 Saturday evening in Rec Hall against the Northwestern Wildcats, looking reminiscent of the 2014 national championship team.
With one of the strongest players in the Big Ten in senior Symone Abbott, Northwestern (11-4, 1-2 B1G) showed early on that their hot start to the 2017 campaign was not going to slow down in Rec Hall.
Penn State opened up the first set with a strong defensive presence from senior outside hitter Ali Frantti. Frantti posted two huge solo blocks that set the tone for the rest of the defense. On the offensive end, Simone Lee provided a much-needed spark.
A back and forth battle in the back row between Lee and Abbott pushed the Nittany Lions to get creative at the net with setters Abby Detering and Bryanna Weiskircher. Both found early success with the short ball to red shirt sophomore Tori Gorrell.
On a final fluke play, defensive specialist Kendall White dug a hard hit ball from Abbot that returned to an empty Northwestern back row. The Nittany Lions took the first set 26-24.
“We were part of the reason we were in that situation,” head coach Russ Rose said. “They [Northwestern] are competitive and we had to side out and earn a real point, and that’s what happened.”
The offensive spark continued into the second set with Penn State going up 13-8. Gorrell’s hot hand met an empty back row on multiple occasions allowing her to go five for five early on.
“I don’t really think about the stats,” Gorrell said, “If I hit well, I hit well, but it’s better if the team wins.”
Gorrell closed out the match with her best night, going 7-7 on the offense.
The offense continued to go on a 7-1 run with Frantti’s three back-to-back kills, all within the 10-foot line.
Russ Rose’s offense continued to dominate with Lee demolishing two more kills to the back row, one hitting hard off the face of Abbott. In thrilling fashion, Penn State closed out the set 25-14 and went into the locker room hitting .483 to the Wildcats .239.
“We hit for a high number and we need to do better hitting to the pins. I think from that point we played much cleaner the rest of the match,” Rose said.
The Nittany Lions continued to look deserving of their No. 3 national ranking in the third set, especially with the presence of White. Her cross-court defense was unmatched and she would finish the night will 11 digs.
Weiskircher and Detering sent over the two-ball dump on multiple occasions that the Wildcat defense could not receive, allowing Washington to close out the set with a powerful smash at center court. They finished the set with a score of 25-14.
“It’s great to be home on a football weekend. It gave us a great energy and we had the luxury of our first four matches at home,” Rose said.
Penn State is set to take on Ohio State in St. John Arena October 6, at 7 pm.
Tia Pattillo is a senior majoring in psychology neuroscience. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.