Women’s Volleyball Drops Second Straight In 3-2 Loss To Colorado
Russ Rose’s Nittany Lions dropped their second straight match 3-2 (25-22, 20-25, 19-25, 25-20, 3-15) to Colorado Saturday night in a Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge match at the Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colo.
How It Happened
No. 13 Penn State (2-2) came out the gates strong in the first set and would go on to hit its best percentage of the match at .414 and capture a tight 25-22 victory to open things up. Junior outside hitter Simone Lee and redshirt freshman middle blocker Tori Gorrell paced the NIttany Lions with a match-high 19 and a career-high 14 kills, respectively. Lee notched an additional nine digs and Gorrell put together an impressive blocking performance with five total.
Colorado (3-1), on the other hand, employed a more balanced attack offensively with five players reaching at least nine kills on the night. A pair from Colorado Springs, Colo., led the way for the Buffaloes, as sophomore outside hitter Alexa Smith, who transferred back home from Purdue, delivered a team-high 12 kills, while junior setter Gabby Simpson — Haleigh Washington’s high school teammate at Doherty — came up huge with 25 assists and 10 kills. Colorado started to heat up in its 25-20 second-set win over the Nittany Lions to tie the match at 1-1.
First-year head coach Jesse Mahoney’s Buffaloes kept their foot on the gas in the third frame, going on to post another solid 25-19 victory to take the lead for the first time. True freshman libero Kendall White continued to have success early on in her college career, as the Indianapolis native led Penn State with 18 digs and added two assists. Rose stuck with the same approach of rotating his setters Saturday night, as Bryanna Weiskircher and Abby Detering finished with 35 and 15 assists, respectively, but neither has truly taken command of the offense and run with it during the better part of the first four matches. Weiskircher also tallied the second-most digs for the Nittany Lions with nine.
Penn State’s junior All-Americans in Ali Frantti and Haleigh Washington were steady with a combined 19 kills but not spectacular for the second match in a row, following their 3-2 setback to then-No. 19 North Carolina in Rec Hall. Frantti added seven digs and four assisted blocks, while Washington finished with a match-high nine total blocks and five digs. The Nittany Lions would battle back with a 25-20 win to force a force a fifth and final set.
A trio of defensive specialists helped Penn State to a 63-53 advantage in the team digs department, as junior Lainy Pierce, sophomore Keeton Holcomb, and senior Taylor Krause combined for 11 off the bench. Junior middle blocker Heidi Thelen rounded out the scoring with five kills, three digs, and two solo blocks. Penn State even posted better blocking numbers with 16 to Colorado’s 13, but the Buffaloes clearly outhit Rose’s squad (.220 to .153) and came up with five service aces to two from the Nittany Lions. Colorado absolutely steamrolled the blue and white 15-3 to complete its 3-2 upset.
Player Of The Match
Gabby Simpson | Junior | Setter/opposite
SImpson was tremendous in all facets of the game, leading the Buffaloes with 25 assists Saturday night. She added 10 kills, eight digs, and two assisted blocks.
The Nittany Lions will return to Coors Events Center Sunday afternoon for a huge Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge match against No. 9 Stanford at 5:00 p.m.