Weekend Winning for Women’s Volleyball
The No. 9 Penn State women’s volleyball team recorded weekend sweeps over Wisconsin (25-18, 25-20, 25-22) and No. 10 Minnesota (25-15, 26-24, 25-15) at Rec Hall. With these two victories, the Nittany Lions improved their overall record to 10-4 and their Big Ten record to 3-1. A few observations from the weekend:
- Ariel Scott is emerging as a star: 12 kills against Wisconsin, 14 against Minnesota. Good things are happening when she is on the court.
- Micha Hancock remains entertaining to watch. She has fans on the edges of their seats—if not already standing—before every serve. She closed out the second set against Wisconsin with a service ace and had three others during the match as well.
- Speaking of aces, Katie Slay also had one at the end of the third set to close out the Badgers. Slay had a strong overall weekend and recorded some kills in big spots for the Nittany Lions.
- Russ Rose continues to send out a deep lineup throughout matches. One recent player to benefit has been freshman Aiyana Whitney.
- For just the fourth and fifth time in a match this season, Deja McClendon failed to record double digit kills. This can be chalked up to Penn State disposing of two foes in straight sets, but the Nittany Lions will need McClendon to be at her best as Big Ten play heats up.
The Nittany Lions were nowhere near perfect over the weekend. Several times they looked susceptible to big runs which kept Wisconsin in the match; however, they have won nine consecutive sets. Dropping early sets, which was a problem earlier in the year, has been corrected for the moment.
Before entering play for the weekend, Penn State was one of only four teams to have four or more losses and be ranked in the Top 25. None of the other three teams were ranked higher than No. 19. The sweep over Minnesota adds another win over a ranked team to Penn State’s résumé as the Nittany Lions seek to establish the top ten rankings for their play on the court and not due to the program’s past accomplishments. More importantly, it continues to add confidence to a young team still trying to gel.
Since their loss at Nebraska to begin Big Ten play, they have responded well. The Nittany Lions are back in action this Wednesday home against Northwestern. Two days later, they have a date with top ranked, undefeated Illinois at Rec Hall. We’ll know much more about this team after that match.