Women’s Volleyball Drops First Big Ten Match 3-2 At Michigan
No. 9 Penn State (17-4, 9-1 Big Ten) dropped its first conference match of the season Saturday night in Ann Arbor, falling to No. 16 Michigan 3-2 (23-25, 25-17, 27-29, 25-23, 9-15). The Nittany Lions swept the Wolverines on Oct. 1 in Rec Hall.
How It Happened
After winning their last 15 matches, Russ Rose’s Nittany Lions ran into a balanced Michigan (18-4, 7-3 Big Ten) offense that was intent on distributing the ball around to a bevy of players. In fact, four of head coach Mark Rosen’s Wolverines finished with double-digit kills, led by sophomore outside hitter Carly Skjodt’s match-high 27.
Simone Lee matched Skjodt to pace Penn State with 27 kills of her own in Cliff Keen Arena, coming up just short of her career-high mark of 30 set in a 3-2 upset over then-No. 1 Minnesota earlier this season. Classmate Ali Frantti blew her previous season-high out of the water Saturday, posting 20 kills in the five-set marathon. She also had five digs and four blocks. It was only the fourth time (1-3) this season that the Nittany Lions went to five.
Claire Kieffer-Wright and Kelly Murphy finished with 13 kills apiece for the Wolverines, while junior Katherine Mahlke joined them in double figures with 12. Despite outblocking Michigan 11-5, the Nittany Lions couldn’t come up with one last thrilling win in the fifth set, losing the match on an 8-3 run by the maize and blue. Tiffany Clark and Jenna Lerg were both terrific on the defensive end for Michigan, tallying 20 digs apiece in the upset. Freshman setter MacKenzi Welsh couldn’t have played better, either, dishing out a career-high 67 assists and 13 digs.
Penn State setter Abby Detering put together a tremendous outing herself, finishing two assists shy of her career-high with 59 on the night, while adding 10 digs, six kills, and a block. Freshman libero Kendall White and Keeton Holcomb added a career-high 23 and 10 digs, respectively. Tori Gorrell, Haleigh Washington, and Heidi Thelen capped off the Penn State scoring with 20 combined kills. Washington’s seven blocks led all players.
Player Of The Match
MacKenzi Welsh | Freshman | Setter
The Bolingbrook, Ill., native was fantastic Saturday night, leading her Wolverines to victory behind 67 assists, 13 digs, four kills, and a block.
The Nittany Lions will rest up before traveling to Madison for a huge match against No. 4 Wisconsin this coming Friday at 9:00 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network.