Women’s volleyball dominates doubleheader

Story posted September 19, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Alex Bobbyn

Coming off three road wins, Penn State’s women’s volleyball team (10-1) was fired up to continue their win streak in Happy Valley.  The Lady Lions faced the Eastern Illinois Panthers (2-5) and the DePaul Blue Demons (2-8) in double-header fashion at Rec Hall on Friday.  The night went smoothly for the No. 3 ranked Nittany Lions, as they came away with two three set sweeps.

In their first match against Eastern Illinois, the Lady Lions dominated the opening set 25-10.  Nia Grant was a major contributor with five kills from the perimeter. Chelsea Lee helped the Panthers hang on with three kills, but the offensive power of the Lady Lions was just too much to handle for Eastern Illinois. 

In the second set, senior Micha Hancock set fellow teammates up for nine kills and came away with one block.  The Panthers seemed to be holding their own in the beginning of the set, but the Lady Lions pulled away.  A collection of kills and blocks put the lions up 10-3 before the Panthers were forced to call a timeout. 

Penn State continued with a 7-0 run that was lead by server Taylor Krause.  The set ended with in exclamation mark as Megan Courtney scored off a kill from the right side of the court giving the Lady Lions a 25-9 win.

The final set was a bit more challenging for the Lady Lions.  Eastern Illinois came out hot with a collection of kills from Chelsea Lee and Abby Saalfrank.  However, the firepower of Grant and Simone Lee couldn’t be stopped.  Penn State went on to win 25-17, sweeping Eastern Illinois and looking ahead to DePaul.

When asked about returning to Penn State as the opposition, Kate Price, Eastern Illinois head coach and past Penn State volleyball standout said, “It’s awesome to be back, it’s awesome to see our home fans, it’s awesome to see the girls playing well, it really sucks to lose in Rec Hall.” 

Coach Price isn’t used to losing very many volleyball matches, especially in Rec Hall, where she only lost two total matches as a college athlete. 

The atmosphere going into the second match had certainly changed.  The 7:30 crowd outnumbered the first, and was much louder as well.  When asked about her first opportunity to play at Rec Hall, Haleigh Washington said, “It was awesome.  I love the atmosphere of Rec Hall, which is one of the main reasons I came here.” 

She referred to Rec Hall as a place that gives her a home like feeling.  Rec Hall may not be home to all of the fans that visit, but it certainly is a gathering place for many Penn State students and alumni. 

Just as they did for Eastern Illinois, the Lady Lions started off hot.  A pair of kills from Ali Frantti and Aiyana Whitney put Penn State up early.  A mixture of Micha Hancock’s serves and Simone Lee’s blocks allowed the Nittany Lions to cruise through the first set 25-8.

Penn State picked up right where they left off when beginning the second set.  They went on a four-point run that included a left perimeter kill from Haleigh Washington. 

DePaul called a timeout after the Lady Lions starting pulling away, and after the timeout, the Blue Demons found a spark in Myah Reed who laid down a beautiful left perimeter kill.  Penn State quickly rebounded with a handful of kills from Nia Grant and Simone Lee, but it was two deadly kills from Ali Frantti and Megan Courtney that changed the tone of the set for good.  The Lady Lions ran away with it, winning the set 25-10.

DePaul started the third set hot with a kill from Colleen Smith.  However, Penn State rebounded quickly with a pair of kills from Simone Lee and Aiyana Whitney.  Once Penn State was up 10-3, DePaul called a timeout in hopes to recuperate.  

A handful of blocks and kills from several DePaul players kept them in it for awhile, but Penn State’s outside hitters came out firing in the back half of the third set, putting and keeping the Lady Lions in the lead for what was a 25-13 victory. 

Coach Russ Rose was happy with Penn State’s triple set sweep in both matches, and seemed to be very glad that many of the past Penn State players where able to come back and experience another game.

“It’s great so many of those guys had great experiences here,” he said.

According to Kate Price, “[Penn State] is a family.”  She explains that it doesn’t matter when you played, just that you did play.

The Penn State community is certainly a family.  The strong ties between women volleyball players past and present are a representation of that family, and will hopefully continue to be so for many years to come. 

Penn State’s next match will be against UIC Saturday at 9 a.m. in Rec Hall.

Alex Bobbyn is a Penn State freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism.  To contact him, email aeb5671@psu.edu.