Women’s Volleyball Sweeps Buffalo In Season Opener
The defending National Champions picked up where they left off in this season’s opener. Penn State opened at home in the Penn State Classic, an invitational tournament that features Buffalo, Stony Brook, and Villanova this year. Villanova beat Stony Brook in four sets earlier in the day, and Buffalo drew the shortest stick and had to open against Penn State. If you know anything about the Nittany Lions, you know what happened next.
How It Happened
The first serve was at 7:27. The last point ended around 8:30. And what it may have lacked in quantity, Penn State fans were treated to the quality they like.
The Bulls started off with two unforced errors going long and never returned in the first set. A combination of outside hitters Ali Frantti, Aiyana Whitney, and Megan Courtney and middle blocker Haleigh Washington staying at the net was too much for Buffalo to handle — Washington and Whitney were the two tallest players in the match and they played like it. Still, despite the size, strength, and name-recognition advantage for the Lions, the first set stayed close. Buffalo never was able to mount a run, but stuck around to lose the set by a decent 25-18.
Penn State started the second set looking like its regular self. A 7-1 run to kick things off expanded to a 13-6 lead, and that pace kept up until it was over at 25-12. Most notably, set No. 2 was the Megan Courtney Show — the reigning NCAA Tournament MVP made some huge plays in the middle of the set including leaping through the air fully-extended to push the ball over the Bulls’ front line. Picture Michael Jordan jumping from the free-throw line — that’s what it looked like.
Buffalo started off the third set 2-0 and led by as much as 6-3, until a 6-1 run from Penn State ended the Bulls’ Cinderella dreams. The defending National Champions went on to win with a cozy 25-16 score.
Player Of The Game
Haleigh Washington. Not only did she have seven kills and five blocks, not only did she register her first collegiate ace towards the end of the first set, but she probably has more fun than any athlete at any level in any sport in the past, present, or future of human society.
Tweet Of The Game
ICYMI: 4x#PSUVB national champion Blair Brown Lipsitz is back in Rec Hall … on the opposing bench coaching UB. pic.twitter.com/pSiMyPRL6l
— Penn State Women’s Volleyball (@PennStateVBALL) August 28, 2015
Coach Rose noted after the game that this was the legend’s first-ever loss at Rec Hall.
Quote Of The Game
The graduation of Micha Hancock leaves a hole at the setter position and two freshmen made small auditions in this match.
“Of course it was different because everyone has a different touch on the ball,” Aiyana Whitney said before Haleigh Washington added, “When anybody comes on the court it’s a different dynamic, but you just have to go out and play.”
- Let me reiterate — middle blocker Haleigh Washington came to Penn State from Colorado as the nation’s No. 1 prospect and has played like it so far. She missed games early last year with an injury but if she hadn’t, she could have been the National Freshman of the Year instead of teammate Ali Frantti. If there was an All-Sophomore Team, expect to see the two of the headlining it.
- Kendall Pierce had a solid game at libero, replacing the graduated Dominique Gonzalez. Russ Rose said after the game that he doesn’t plan to experiment at libero as long as Pierce continues to look comfortable.
- At setter, on the other hand, Rose is still giving two players test runs. Freshmen Wilma Rivera and Bryanna Weiskircher both debuted tonight and played fine — Rose said that Weiskircher looked “more comfortable,” but couldn’t say that he was leaning one way or the other as far as choosing a starter.
The Penn State Classic wraps up tomorrow with a doubleheader of Penn State vs. Stony Brook at 1 p.m. then Penn State vs. Villanova at 7:30. Before the night game, the Nittany Lions will raise their 2014 National Championship banner, so be sure to come out to see a key part of the dynasty.