Penn State Advances to Sweet 16 with Win Over Syracuse
Penn State beat Syracuse three sets to none in the second round of the NCAA Volleyball tournament at home.
Penn State dominated Syracuse in set one winning 25-13. The Nittany Lions got off to a hot start with four straight points with Brianna Weiskercher serving and never looked back. Tori Gorrell had a tremendous first set with four kills and so did Nia Reed with four kills of her own. Weiskircher also added 13 assists in the first set in what was a dominant performance for the Nittany Lions in all regards.
However, set number two would prove to be much more competitive as Syracuse came out completely unfazed from the punishment Penn State had laid on them only a set ago. The Orange started the set off with an early 4-2 lead. This lead eventually grew to a 16-10 margin with the Nittany Lions having multiple errors in what was an ugly beginning to the second set.
Ebangwese Santita of the Orange showed why Syracuse is number two in the nation in blocks per set with three of her own in set two as she and the Orange dominated the front row.
Behind Kendall White's tremendous serving, the Lions worked their way back eventually tying it 16-16. The rest of set two proved to be very back and forth with Gorrell making some huge kills to increase Penn States lead.
Katilyn Hord had a huge putback on a freeball hanging over the net to increase PSU’s lead to 23-20. With Weiskircher serving down the stretch PSU took a competitive and highly contested set two by a score of 25-20.
Coming into set three with a two-zero set lead the Nittany Lions looked to close out their second-round matchup. Weiskircher kicked off the fourth set with a service ace to give PSU an early lead, but Syracuse came right back with a huge block at the net. Similar to how set two began, set three proved to be back and forth early.
Taylor Leath was rejected three times by Syracuse with two happening in the same service before finally hammering one down. The rest of set three was back and forth until Penn State pulled it together behind some key kills from Gorrell and Leath and some excellent service from Weiskircher and White en route to a 25-16win in set three.
For Penn State head coach Russ Rose, this was his 100th NCAA tournament win. Rose was really impressed with the play of Gorrell.
“Critical for us that Tori played as well as she did,” Rose said.
In regards to moving forward into the tournament, Rose gave a simple yet effective response.
“Weather whatever storms happen,” said Rose.
Meanwhile, despite the defeat, head coach Leonid Yellin was proud of how far this team had come and how they were able to reach a tournament berth for the first time in program history.
Penn State will take on Washington in the third round of the tournament while the Orange will head home.
David Saggio is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.