Women’s Volleyball: Nittany Lions Sweep Howard
The Nittany Lions began their pursuit for their third straight NCAA National Championship Friday night at Rec Hall with a 3-0 sweep over Howard. Coming off of three losses in five games and a poor performance against Nebraska last Saturday, the Nittany Lions bounced back to win their 25th consecutive first round victory.
Redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney and sophomore Ali Frantti drove the offense with double figure kills. Frantti came out on top for the Nittany Lions with 12 kills on .400 hitting percentage. Whitney was close behind, as she earned herself 10 kills on 17 errorless swings on .588 hitting. Haleigh Washington also had a strong game with eight kills on .636 hitting and a team high seven blocks.
The first set was tight, with each team battling back and forth throughout until the score reached 7-7. The back-and-forth battle for each team continued until a momentum-changing block by Washington shifted the score to 13-12. Powerful kills by Megan Courtney and Washington propelled the Nittany Lions to a 10-point lead at 24-14. The Lions took the first set with a dominant kill by Frantti, which set the tone for the second set.
Penn State’s size and experience showed in a dominating second set. The Nittany Lions stuck with their system in the set and continued to set up players with their size and powerful hits. Back-to-back kills from both Whitney and Courtney secured a 25-8 second set victory.
Penn State head coach Russ Rose noticed and took advantage of the Nittany Lions’ size over Howard, using that advantage all match.
“If there was an advantage that we had against Howard, it’s that we had size,” said Rose. “By setting the ball higher, we had an opportunity to hit the ball over the top.”
To start the third set, Howard came out of the intermission excited and confident, opening the third set with a 6-1 lead. The Nittany Lions struggled until a kill from Whitney and a block from Washington and Simone Lee sparked a chain of points to tie the score at six. Washington was able to secure the final point with yet another powerful kill to complete the sweep.
Rose was impressed by the play of Whitney and thinks she is one of the best players in the country.
“I thought she hit really well and that’s not a shock,” said Rose. “I think she’s our best attacker and has been our best attacker and at times, is one of the best attackers in the country.”
Coach Rose was satisfied with the Lions win against Howard, but also believes there is room for improvement and there needs to be improvement, especially against Dayton in the second round.
“We’ll have to be better tomorrow. Players will have to get a little more serious about certain things because Dayton is very good,” said Rose. “Dayton has won 25 matches in a row, that’s the longest winning streak in the country. That doesn’t go unnoticed by me.”
Alissa Devine is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact her, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org