Women’s Volleyball Tops Ohio State For Second Straight Time
After three straight victories on the road, including a sweep over Ohio State Wednesday night in Columbus, the No. 3 Penn State Nittany Lions welcomed the No. 11 Buckeyes into Rec Hall for a Top 15 showdown.
The Nittany Lions took three out of four sets, winning 25-15, 25-16, 19-25, 25-14. Their record improved to 20-2 (9-2 Big Ten) on the year while the Buckeyes fell to 19-4 (8-3 Big Ten).
Haleigh Washington led a well-balanced Nittany Lion attack in the first set, tallying six kills and a block in the opening frame. Senior Megan Courtney, playing in her first home match since returning from a foot injury, registered four kills for the Lions.
The second set was very similar to the first set in that Penn State took an early lead and never looked back en route to a nine point margin of victory. Six different players had a kill for the Nittany Lions as they tallied 14 for the set next to only two errors.
Ohio State continued to shoot themselves in the foot with six errors on 11 kills for a dismal .152 hitting percentage.
To Ohio State’s credit, they did not fold after falling down two sets to none. They came out fighting in the third set, which took the Nittany Lions by surprise. Most of the blame can be put on the seven errors from Penn State.
“Sometimes people can tense up and that’s how errors happen,” said senior Aiyana Whitney. “We thought we had the game won when obviously we didn’t and that allowed them back into it.”
Taylor Sandbothe, who according to Penn State head coach Russ Rose is “One of the best hitters in the country.” Sandbothe and teammate Audra Appold led the Ohio State offensive surge with five kills apiece in the third set.
Nittany Lion fans held their breath during a scary moment late in the third set as star Haleigh Washington went tumbling awkwardly into the net after a failed attempt at a kill. She was able to get up and walk off the court under her own power.
“My shoes were untied,” she said jokingly postgame. “There’s nothing to it. I’m fine.”
Penn State needed a strong start to set four after dropping the previous set, and that is exactly what they got. Ohio State hit the perfect ball off of a beautiful set, but freshman Keeton Holcomb was able to make a stellar dig after which Ali Frantti lightly tapped over the net for the first point of the set.
“It was huge,” added Whitney, referencing to the way they opened up the set. “We were able to get our confidence back and find our rhythm for the rest of the match.”
The Nittany Lions went on a 10-2 run towards the end of the match in order to seal the win.
“Anytime you can beat a quality team like Ohio State two times in a row, it says a lot about the character of these kids,” said a relieved Rose postgame.
Penn State is next in action on November 5 at 7 p.m. at Maryland in the first of four straight on the road.
Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.