Women’s Volleyball Returns Home to Face Buckeyes
About a week and a half ago, the No. 9 Penn State Women’s Volleyball team (13-5, 6-2) walked into an odd situation at Rec Hall. For the first time in a while, they were home underdogs against undefeated and top ranked Illinois. While this looked to be a challenge for the young squad, things were looking up early on. The Lions took the first set and fired up fans, many of whom had just finished watching Penn State defeat Iowa at Beaver Stadium, were ready to go insane. It could have been a great night; however, it ended in disappointment. Leading two sets to one and up 17-14 in the fourth set, the Lions let the Illinois off the hook as the Illini rallied to even the match and ride the momentum to a fifth set win. For much of the night, Penn State proved they belonged and were good enough to win, but ultimately were left with their first home Big Ten loss since October 24, 2004.
To the Lions’ credit, this tough loss did not carry over. With almost a week to let it set in, they took care of No. 11 Purdue (32-30, 16-25, 25-19, 25-19) and Indiana in a sweep (25-18, 25-16, 25-21) on the road. Deja McClendon had a strong weekend registering double digit kills in both matches. Ariel Scott was not far behind and Micha Hancock, per usual, added six service aces between the two matches.
Penn State is now home for four consecutive matches beginning tonight against No.23 Ohio State. While many fans have the Nebraska match on October 29th circled on their calendars after a close loss earlier in Lincoln this year, matches against Ohio State and No. 21 Michigan cannot be overlooked. Before the Illinois loss, Penn State last lost at home to a Big Ten rival about seven years ago. The opponent? You guessed it: Ohio State.
Penn State should be hungry tomorrow: the Lions have the chance to beat another ranked opponent and ensure that two consecutive home conference losses will not become reality. The Buckeyes are led by juniors Mari Hole, Emily Danks, and Amanda Peterson along with senior Kelli Barhorst and boast a 14-7 overall record but have dropped four of their last seven matches, including a loss to Purdue last Saturday.
The Lions have eight consecutive victories over Ohio State. If Penn State plays a somewhat consistent match and takes the opening set (although it did not work against Illinois), number nine and the fear of another loss at Rec Hall should be nothing to worry about.
The match begins at 7 p.m. Come out and watch, because after all, who doesn’t like the opportunity to beat Ohio State?