No. 6 Penn State Handles Big Ten Newcomer Rutgers
Penn State’s women’s volleyball team extended its seven game winning streak, blanking Rutgers 3-0 (25-11, 25-12, 25-10) in Rec Hall on Friday night.
The Scarlet Knights (7-19, 0-13) have struggled in their first season in the Big Ten, and didn’t stand much of a chance against the No. 6 team in the nation. The Nittany Lions (23-3, 11-2 Big Ten) racked up 46 kills on the way to a .467 hitting percentage, and we’re led by freshman Haleigh Washington, who posted a game-high 13 kills on .688 hitting.
“It was a good opportunity to get some other people involved in the match,” coach Russ Rose said in his postgame press conference. “It takes time to get acclimated to a conference. I’m sensitive to the situation Rutgers is in because everything’s new that first year going in. There’s a lot of challenges associated with that.”
The Lions came out firing on all cylinders and jumped out to an early 5-1 lead. A few points later they went on a 7-0 run, sparked by freshman Ali Frantti, who finished the match with nine kills. They didn’t allow Rutgers within 10 points the rest of the set.
As has been a recent trend for Penn State, the Lions slowed down in set two, but still overwhelmed the Knights. The Lions had three service errors, but beyond a few minor mistakes they kept the Knights at bay taking the set 25-12. Though his team handled its opponent, Rose said that his team will have to improve before the postseason with less than a month to go.
“I don’t think the energy is great, but you are what you are in sports,” Rose said. “You can talk all you want, but you are. I’m pleased we won, but I also saw a level of play out there that’s going to cause our season to end prematurely because it’s a team game and you have to have a certain connective fiber that allows you to play at a high level.”
In set three, Penn State returned to its first set form, only committing two hitting errors in the set. The Lions broke open a 9-3 lead early and cruised the rest of the way. The big lead allowed Rose to go deep into his bench, as 15 different players saw floor time.
Rose, never one to mince words, was satisfied with his team’s performance despite what he considered a poor week of practice. The Lions face another Big Ten newcomer in Maryland on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“I thought we were really good Monday in practice, and I thought we got progressively worse on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” Rose said. “I was hoping we’d put a good effort together tonight. I thought it was OK, I didn’t think it was great.”
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The Nittany Lions moved up one spot following their 33-28 victory over Indiana on Saturday.
Toney finished the game with four sacks, including a crucial one on the Hoosiers’ final drive of the game late in the fourth quarter.
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