Women’s Volleyball Gets Back On Track With Maryland Sweep
Penn State women’s volleyball entered its conference showdown with unranked Maryland on the heels of back-to-back losses. If that sounds like an anomaly, it is. In fact, Russ Rose’s Nittany Lions haven’t dropped consecutive matches since early November of 2011.
In the second-to-last home match of the regular season, the Nittany Lions looked every bit their dominant selves, picking up a much-needed boost as the postseason draws ever closer. Penn State flipped the Terrapins on their shells thanks to a dominant straight-set (25-20, 25-11, 25-13) victory in front of a packed Rec Hall (6,505 fans to be exact) Saturday night.
How It Happened
Penn State made a slight change to its starting lineup Saturday as senior Kendall Pierce donned the blue libero jersey, taking over for true freshman Keeton Holcomb. Pierce is known for her tenacity on defense, as the Eden, N.Y., native frequently lays out for highlight-reel digs. She would eventually post a team-high 12 on the night.
Despite getting off to a rather slow start, the Nittany Lions found their rhythm offensively midway through the first set. Sophomore Haleigh Washington and senior Megan Courtney paced Penn State with a deluge of early kills, cuing a healthy amount of the deafening celebrations that make Rec Hall such a fearsome environment for opposing teams to play in. Washington went on to finish with seven kills and four blocks. The Nittany Lions stormed to a 25-20 first-set victory and didn’t look back.
It was more of the same in the second frame, as Rose’s bunch showcased a level of confidence that simply wasn’t present in its hiccups against Minnesota and Michigan. Sophomore outside hitter Ali Frantti joined the party by adding some energizing kills of her own. She would finish her night with six kills, seven digs, and four blocks. Penn State put on an absolute clinic in the second set, dropping the Terrapins with ease, 25-11.
With breathing room in their back pocket, Rose’s Nittany Lions refused to let up following the short intermission. Head Coach Steve Aird, an ’01 Penn State grad, could only watch as his Terrapins put up a commendable effort but couldn’t keep pace with the high-powered ladies in blue and white. Aird did receive a match-high 12 kills from redshirt senior Adreené Elliott, though.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the stress-free affair was the fact that all five of the Nittany Lions’ main scoring options were dialed in and contributed significant numbers. Outside hitters Simone Lee and Aiyana Whitney contributed six and five kills respectively, while adding three and four blocks apiece. Penn State made easy work of the third set, cruising to a 25-13 nightcap that helped the Nittany Lion faithful forget about the 28-16 gridiron beatdown that took place against Michigan earlier in the day.
Player Of The Match
Megan Courtney | Outside hitter | No. 17
The Dayton, Ohio, product put on a show Saturday night, recording a team-high 11 kills to go along with five digs and a pair of blocks. Courtney’s leadership has been paramount in steering this team in the right direction after a couple underwhelming losses. The hard-hitting veteran will be essential to Penn State’s success moving forward.
The fourth-ranked Nittany Lions are back in Rec Hall for Senior Night festivities before taking on Northwestern this Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 7:00 p.m. ET.