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Women’s Volleyball Sweeps No. 17 Ohio State

The No. 6 Penn State women’s volleyball team extended its winning streak to five games with a 3-0 sweep of No. 17 Ohio State in Rec Hall on Tuesday night (25-15, 25-22, 25-12).

Three players finished with eight kills for the Nittany Lions — freshman Ali Frantti, senior Aiyana Whitney, and junior Megan Courtney. Another freshman, Haleigh Washington, added seven kills.

With the score at 5-4 in the first set, a few quick mistakes by Ohio State ignited a 4-0 run for the Lions that was capped off with a block from Micha Hancock and Washington. Washington kept energy high for the entire set with physical play at the net and finished with seven blocks. The Lions used a 6-2 run in the middle of the set to build an insurmountable difference. Penn State was near perfect in the frame with a .652 hitting percentage and no errors, and the team won the set 25-15.

“We came out and played really well in the first and third game. We’ve done that a lot this year, especially the first game,” coach Russ Rose said. “We’ve come out of the gate well and we have to find a way to maintain that and sustain it.”

Penn State would cool off a bit in set two, allowing Ohio State to build an early 7-2 lead. However, the team stayed in the action, and eventually fought back to reach a tie at 16-all. With the score tied at 21, Ohio State committed two straight errors, and the Nittany Lions didn’t look back from there. Washington ended the set with a sweeping kill for a 25-22 win.

“A lot of times you’re fighting yourself,” Rose said, “because we contributed to them getting a number of those early points.”

After suffering a demoralizing loss in the second frame, Ohio State had no answers for the Lions in set three. Leading 7-3 early, Penn State quickly went on a 4-0 run and wouldn’t trail again. Hancock facilitated the run with crisp sets and finished with 31 assists for the match. The Lions closed out the sweep 25-12.

“It’s nice to have three 3-0 wins in a row. You feel like you’re getting tighter with the group, and we’re getting to a consistent level,” Hancock said. “I really feel like we need to have more energy and I think we’ve been showing that with our 3-0 wins.”

The game was the first of a back-to-back for Penn State. The team will travel to Columbus on Friday for a rematch. Despite a convincing win at home, Penn State will have to stay prepared to again the ranked Big Ten opponent that picked up crucial wins against Illinois and Nebraska — two teams that defeated the Lions earlier in the season. However, senior Lacey Fuller says Tuesday’s game gives the team an advantage.

“It’s nice, because it’s one thing to watch film on a team, but getting to play them, you get more of a feel [for the other team]. At least as a defensive player, you know exactly where they hit the ball,” Fuller said. “So hopefully going into Friday I’ll be more prepared.”

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