Nebraska Hands Penn State Volleyball First B1G Loss
The top-ranked Penn State Women’s Volleyball team traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska on Sunday to take on the #4 Nebraska Cornhuskers in front of an electric sell-out crowd at the NU Coliseum. The Lions could not handle the Huskers offense on that day, however, as they dropped a heartbreaking match by a score of 3-2 (25-12, 30-32, 25-19, 23-25, 10-15). The game that was called an “Instant Classic” by the Big Ten Network was Penn State’s first loss in the Big Ten this year.
The Lions got out to a slow start, only leading 9-7 halfway through. A 12-3 rally, aided by a Deja McClendon ace and kills by Ariel Scott and Katie Slay, put them up 21-10. They did not look back, and a quick kill by McClendon ended the set 25-12 in favor of Penn State.
The second set started out close as well, and another big Penn State run (7-1) put them up 14-8 halfway through the frame. The Huskers would not fold as they fought back to make it 20-20. The teams traded points all the way to the end, but three straight kills by Nebraska gave them the set 32-30.
The third set was never really in doubt, as Penn State got off to a quick start. The Lions led by as many as 7 points as McClendon once again set the tone. A small Nebraska run towards the end made it closer, but the Lions ended up winning 25-19.
The fourth set saw Penn State get out to an early lead and then fall apart halfway through the set. They were up 13-8 and appeared on their way to closing out the match when Nebraska called their first timeout. The Huskers went on a 16-7 run after that to reach set point, 24-20. Penn State tried to come back, but could not score quite enough as Nebraska claimed the set 25-23.
In the deciding fifth set, the Lions saw their 2-0 lead evaporate, and did not lead again during the match, as Nebraska pulled away and won 15-10. The Lions failed to overcome 11 service errors throughout the day, including 3 in the final set. McClendon led the team with 20 kills, Scott had 19, and freshman Megan Courtney had 11. Setter Micha Hancock led the team with 61 assists, and also recorded a team-high and career-high 8 blocks.
The loss might have ended Penn State’s season-high 15 game winning streak, but the Lions (21-2, 11-1 Big Ten) remain in first place in the conference. They finish the year with 6 of their final 8 games at Rec Hall — the next one being this Friday at 8 p.m. against Minnesota.