Penn State Volleyball vs. Towson NCAA Tournament Matchup Preview

Story posted December 2, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Matthew Gelhard

The Nittany Lions earned a bid to the 2021 Women’s Volleyball National Championship on Sunday, and they draw a matchup against the 26-4 Towson Tigers in the first round of the tournament.

This will be the 41st year in a row that Penn State will compete for the championship.

The Tigers won a thriller against Elon to capture their third consecutive Colonial Athletic Association championship. After falling two sets to none, Towson would win three straight sets to send themselves to the tournament.

Towson boasts the CAA Most Outstanding Performer in redshirt freshman Irbe Lazda who had 22 kills in the tournament. Penn State will have to overcome the duo of setter and Virginia transfer Megan Wilson and the senior from Greece Fay Bakodimou, who leads the team in total points and kills.

Penn State is led by three women who earned All-Big Ten honors on Wednesday; seniors Jonni Parker and Kaitlyn Hord for first team and senior Jenna Hampton was a second team honoree. The team is coming off a sweep of Iowa as they showed hints of what could be in this year’s tournament. Penn State is one of eight Big Ten schools appearing in the NCAA Tournament, five receiving top-16 seeds.

Although the two teams will be providing some offense as Penn State ranks 11th in kills per set and Towson is 22nd in the nation in hitting percentage, it will come down to who can defend at the net.

Both Towson and Penn State pose as examples of strong defensive units in the country. Towson ranks 11th in team total blocks and 16th in blocks per set while Penn State ranks 6th in total blocks and blocks per set. Senior Kaitlyn Hord and sophomore Allie Holland need to continue their dominance to be successful in this match and throughout the tournament.

The match will take place in Pittsburgh on Friday at 4 p.m. The winner will take on the winner of third-seeded Pittsburgh and the American East champion UMBC.

With a departure in the Regional Finals with a loss against Stanford in 2020 and a Regional Semifinal loss in 2019, Penn State looks to end its eight-year National Championship drought.

Towson will give the Nittany Lions a scare in the first set, but they will recover and not look back.

Prediction: Penn State 3-1

 

Matthew Gelhard is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at mgg5264@psu.edu.