Women’s Volleyball Wins Both Matches in Michigan This Weekend
No. 2 Penn State women’s volleyball defeated No. 17 Michigan in four sets in Ann Arbor Friday night. The teams both made the final four last year, but Michigan has struggled in conference play this season with a 4-6 record coming into the match. Penn State faced Michigan earlier this season at Rec Hall and also won in four sets.
The first set started off well for Michigan as it took an 8-0 lead over the Nittany Lions with help from five hitting errors by Penn State. Michigan continued to dominate while Penn State was plagued by hitting and attack errors. The Wolverines took the first set 25-16, but it was the only one they’d win all night.
Michigan scored the first point in the second set before Micha Hancock scored back-to-back points for Penn State. After a 4-4 tie, Nia Grant and Ariel Scott had two consecutive kills, which kept Penn State up against Michgan until the Wolverines gained their first lead since 1-0 by going up 15-14.
The two teams continued to exchange points until Penn State took a 19-17 that it would not surrender. Kills from Deja McClendon and Ariel Scott gave Penn State a 22-19 lead. An attack error by the Nittany Lions and an ace by Michigan brought the Wolverines within one again, but Megan Courtney went on to have the kill that gave Penn State the 25-22 second set win.
McClendon had two kills to lead off the third set. A 5-1 Penn State lead was cut to 6-4. Michigan tied the set at 11 and took its first lead right after. An 8-2 run by Michigan was answered by an 9-2 Penn State to give the Nittany Lions an 18-15 lead. Michigan took a timeout after Penn State went up by five at 21-16, but they were unable to rebound from the deficit. A solo block and a kill by Courtney gave Penn State a 23-17 lead. Three consecutive kills by Michigan led to Penn State calling a timeout before going on to win the third set 25-20.
Hancock started the fourth set off with a kill. Courtney had three consecutive kills soon after to put Penn State up 6-2. The two teams exchanged points for a large portion of the set, with Penn State maintaining a four point lead. Blocks from Katie Slay and Courtney gave Penn State a 20-14 lead. After two Michigan points, Courtney had the kill to put Penn State at match point. Scott then had a kill of her own to win the fourth set 25-16 and the match 3-1.
McClendon had her sixth double-double of the season with 14 kills and 12 digs. Courtney had a career-high 17 kills along with nine digs and seven blocks, including three solo blocks.
Saturday evening, Penn State faced Michigan State in East Lansing where the Nittany Lions defeated the No. 14 Spartans in straight sets. Michigan State had previously given Penn State its only conference loss of the season in the Big Ten opener at home in late September. The Spartans defeated Penn State in five sets in that match.
Penn State proved early that this match would be different by starting off with an 11-2 run. Slay had two kills and three blocks including one solo block on the run. Penn State extended the lead, and Michigan State would not be able to get within seven for the rest of the set. McClendon had a kill to put Penn State at set point. Michigan State had a kill of its own, but a service error gave Penn State the 25-14 set win.
The Nittany Lions started the second set off with a 7-2 lead, but Michigan State fought its way to within one point, 13-12. It didn’t last long though after back-to-back kills from Scott helped Penn State go up 18-14. Scott had back-to-back kills again to win the set 25-18.
The two teams exchanged points in the third set until Scott had a kill followed by a block with Slay to put Penn State up 12-10. Michigan State tied the set at 13, but Penn State went on a run to go ahead 17-14. A 7-4 run followed to bring Penn State to match point, but Michigan State challenged and got within four. Scott had the match-winning kill for a 25-20 set win.
Penn State improves to 20-2 overall and 11-1 in the conference. The women’s volleyball team plays in Rec Hall this weekend against Purdue on Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Indiana on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
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The redshirt freshman has seen increased reps at wide receiver and punt returner this season.
Coming off another conference win, the Nittany Lions emphasized the importance of having each other’s backs in the midst of the Big Ten slate.
“Now, running out of the tunnel at a White Out, it gives you chills.”