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No. 2 Women’s Volleyball Overpowers Northwestern 3-1

The No. 2 Penn State women’s volleyball team (25-2), defeated Northwestern in four sets (25-17, 25-18, 31-33, 25-20) on Friday behind a career night from Megan Courtney. The win over the Wildcats puts Penn State just one win away from clinching its second straight Big Ten regular season championship.

Deja McClendon, in her final homestand as a Nittany Lion, started the first set off with three kills in the first five points as Penn State jumped out to an early 4-1 lead. Northwestern answered with a 4-3 run, but two straight kills from Courtney caused the Wildcats to use their first timeout. Penn State didn’t turn back after that, winning the set 25-17 on the strength of aces by Micha Hancock and Nia Grant.

The second set was tight to start, as the teams battled to an 11-11 tie before Penn State went on a 5-2 run, sparked by a Hancock kill, that caused Northwestern to call yet another timeout. The timeout wasn’t effective, and Penn State went on a 5-1 run to go up by a game-high seven points. A McClendon kill clinched the second set for the Nittany Lions, 25-18.

The third set was all Northwestern from the start, as the Wildcats climbed to a 21-16 lead. Penn State responded and had the Rec Hall crowd on its feet with a 6-0 run to capture a 22-21 lead. The teams traded points, but Northwestern, led by program kills leader Stephanie Holthus, was ultimately able to come away with a 33-31 marathon win in the set.

The fourth set was close throughout, as neither team could gain more than a two point lead until late. Katie Slay powered a kill through the Wildcat block to give Penn State a 19-18 lead, and two Northwestern hitting errors would stretch the lead to 21-18. That would be all the room the Nittany Lions needed, as Courtney finished the match with a kill and gave Penn State the 25-20 win to take the set and the match.

Courtney led the match with a career-high 21 kills on 45 attempts, and also had 17 digs. McClendon added 16 kills, and Dominique Gonzalez led both teams with 24 digs.

The women’s volleyball team finishes out its home schedule tomorrow night against Illinois starting at 7:30 p.m. Penn State will honor Katie Slay, Maggie Harding, Erica Denney, Maddie Martin, Deja McClendon, and Ariel Scott in the Senior Night presentation before the game. All fans who show their Nebraska football game ticket stub will receive free entry into the match.

Match Notes:

  • Hancock’s two aces in the match give her 237 aces for her career, a new Penn State program record. The previous record was 235, set by Ellen Hensler in 1986.
  • Athletic Director David Joyner presented Ariel Scott with a gold ball before the game to commemorate her 1000th career kill, achieved earlier this season.
  • With the win, and Nebraska’s loss to Purdue early Friday night, Penn State moves to within one game of clinching its 15th Big Ten title. The Nittany Lions hold a two game lead over the second-place Cornhuskers with three games to play. Penn State and Nebraska will play for the first time this season in the season finale on November 30 at 8:30 p.m. in Lincoln.

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About the Author

Alex Robinson

Alex Robinson was Onward State's Acting Managing Editor/Resident Old Man. He lived in Harrisburg almost his whole life, but he says he's from California -- where he was born -- because that's more fun. He loves cats and Chinese food, but only separately. He met both Ben Affleck and Kanye West within a half hour, so the three of them are basically best friends. If you want to hear his #scorching #hot #takes, you can follow him at @ARobinsonPSU or email him at [email protected].

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