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Women’s Volleyball Shuts Out Northwestern

Penn State knocked out yet another ranked opponent on Wednesday night, defeating No. 24 Northwestern in three sets (25-20, 25-17, 25-17). The victory gave the Lions an impressive 14 shutout wins on the season.

Impressive, that is, to everyone but coach Russ Rose.

Rose voiced his displeasure with his team’s effort, despite the convincing win.

“I didn’t think anybody could make a play,” Rose said. “Practice has been like that for a few days…Just no emotion, no real leadership out there — it was pretty disappointing.”

Redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney led the way for the Lions on both sides of the ball, finishing with a game-high 12 kills on a .500 hitting percentage and seven blocks. Junior Megan Courtney added 10 kills and senior setter Micha Hancock contributed four aces.

The Lions started out a bit sluggish, unable to pull away for a big lead in set one. However, self-inflicted mistakes by Northwestern helped Penn State close the set out. A service error followed by a hitting error gave the Lions the final two points.

Whitney, the lone player at the podium for Penn State following the game, set the tone defensively for the Lions with four block assists in set one.

“Blocking was what I really wanted to focus on,” Whitney said. “I think it’s something I’ve been kind of struggling with in the middle position. It’s kind of new to me, blocking everything, so it’s something I’ve been trying to work on.”

The slow start carried over for the Lions in set two. The Wildcats scored the first three points until Whitney responded with a kill. Penn State took the lead, and at 9-7, it took off on a 6-2 run to stretch the lead, which was sparked by one of Hancock’s signature quick set kills.

The Lions kept the Wildcats at bay for the rest of the set, aided by more late errors.

In set three, Penn State finally found its groove, stringing together a big 6-0 run to take an 18-9 lead. With match point at 24-14, the Wildcats showed some fight, winning the next three points — but a Hancock pass found senior Nia Grant soaring on the right side as she slammed home the final kill.

Penn State returns to Rec Hall on Saturday at 4 p.m. to take on Illinois. Rose says he hopes to see more energy out of his team.

“If you’re at home, you should have a little energy and pizzazz to your life,” Rose said. “It’s not me who’s responsible for having a lot of energy and jumping up and down. That’s not the gig I signed up for.”

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