Women’s Volleyball Sweeps Indiana in Final Home Match
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The No. 1 Nittany Lions women’s volleyball team (26-1, 16-1 B1G) came out somewhat flat in Rec Hall in their final home Big Ten match against the Indiana Hoosiers (12-16, 1-15 B1G) Wednesday evening.
With most of their games falling on Wednesday and Saturday evening, it has been tough to make practices as competitive as possible, which transferred into tonight’s performance.
“We didn’t play with much passion or purpose,” head coach Russ Rose said. “I’d be misleading people if I said I was pleased with how we played tonight.”
Despite Rose’s frustration, the Nittany Lions rallied to take down the Hoosiers and finish their final home match on a high note.
Veteran senior outside hitters Alli Frantti and Haleigh Washington not only got things going on the offensive end with four and five kills, respectively, but they also provided a strong defensive presence at the net with two blocks each. Tori Gorrell also added to the defense, posting three blocks.
Showing off her versatility by being named Big Ten Defensive Player of the week, Simone Lee sent a huge kill to the deep right corner of the court and closed out the first set with high intensity. Penn State led the Hoosiers 25-21.
The second set started off somewhat rocky for the Nittany Lions, allowing Indiana to take a 7-5 lead early on. Gorrell provided a much-needed spark on both the offensive and defensive ends, while Heidi Thelen got into the mix as well.
Despite Penn State leading the all-time series 50-1, the Hoosiers battled at the net well into the middle of the second set. After two huge solo blocks from Washington, the Nittany Lions began to pull away, leading 17-12. Washington has earned four Player of the Week honors already this season.
“We have to be going 100 percent,” Washington said. “As a leader it’s a matter of instilling that sense of urgency, focus, and drive that every play matters.”
Indiana’s defense began to break down late in second when mental errors and miscommunication led to multiple dropped balls within the ten-foot line.
Leading 23-16, Frantti sent a hard kill to the opposite sideline. Another error from the Hoosiers let Penn State take the set, 25-16.
Penn State took an early 3-2 lead in the third set with kills from Lee and Washington. At that point, Washington was 7-12 and hitting .583. She would later finish with 10 kills on the night.
A couple of service errors on either side of the net created a back-and-forth battle for possession, yet the Nittany Lions continued to lead 16-12. Thelen and Gorrell put up two huge blocks that fired up the crowd and put Penn State up, 19-13.
“It’s easy to know what Heidi is doing, she’s very consistent” Gorrell said. “Blocking with her is almost natural.”
Dominance continued late in the third set with kills from Gorrell and Washington. Leading 23-16, Penn State was able to close out the set in classic fashion with a pair of kills, the last of those slamming in center of a flat-footed Hoosier defense.
The Nittany Lions will close out their season with road matches against Rutgers, Wisconsin, and Minnesota before heading into the NCAA tournament.
Tia Pattillo is a senior majoring in psychology neuroscience. To contact her, email email@example.com.