Penn State Advances In NCAA Tournament With Sweep Over Howard
Penn State women’s volleyball began its quest for its eighth National Championship on Friday night in Rec Hall. The No. 7 seed took on Howard University (18-13, 11-1 MEAC) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Nittany Lions went in to the match 29-5 all-time in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and they have not dropped a set in their last 25 first-round matches. With its back-to-back National Championships, Penn State hasn’t lost a match in the NCAA Tournament since 2012.
Penn State’s regular season was less successful than years past, as it lost seven games compared to last year’s three. Also, for the second straight year, a team other than the Nittany Lions won the Big Ten title. Penn State lost back-to-back matches this year, which hadn’t happened since November 2011, and it ended the regular season by getting swept by Nebraska — but despite a middling seven seed, a Russ Rose-coached squad is always a threat in the NCAA Tournament.
How It Happened
The match started with a full Rec Hall and a healthy number of Howard fans. The starters for the Nittany Lions were Ali Frantti, Aiyana Whitney, Haleigh Washington, Megan Courtney, Heidi Thelen, Bryanna Weiskircher, and Kendall Pierce at libero.
Penn State got on the board first. Both teams were called for net violations early in the set and tied it up 6-6. After some back and forth the teams remained tied at 10-10 after Penn State failed to set up the block.
The Nittany Lions won seven points in a row before they extended their lead to 24-15 and ultimately won the set point. At the end of the set, Frantti lead Penn State with six kills and Washington had a 1.000 hitting percentage after four attempts.
Penn State scored first in the second set and made it 2-1 against Howard. The Nittany Lions kept their early lead and extended it 19-8 over the Bison. The attack made quick work of Howard and won six points in a row to get to set point and win 25-8.
Howard scored five unanswered points to start the third set before Penn State got on the board. The Nittany Lions fought back to make it 6-6. Just like the first set, both teams went back and forth before tying things up 10-10.
Thanks to a kill by Frantti, the Nittany Lions pulled away from the Bison and scored six points in a row. Howard and Penn State traded points to make it 21-15 for the NIttany Lions. Washington scored the set and match point for the Nittany Lions making it 25-18.
Player Of The Match
Ali Frantti was the backbone of the Nittany Lions’ attack against the Bison. She led the team in kills and hitting percentage and managed to get Penn State out of its scoreless slumps in the second and third set. Aiyana Whitney and Haleigh Washington also had good games.