Women’s Volleyball Loses 3-2 Heartbreaker To No. 1 Nebraska
No. 11 Penn State (17-7, 9-4 Big Ten) welcomed top-ranked Nebraska to Rec Hall Friday night for a televised tilt on Big Ten Network. The Nittany Lions dropped their fourth straight conference match 3-2 (25-22, 17-25, 23-25, 25-23, 11-15).
How It Happened
Russ Rose’s ladies had Rec rocking from the start. Penn State cruised out to an early 12-8 lead in the first set, as the Cornhuskers were slow to adjust to the deafening environment. Head coach John Cook called his second timeout with the Nittany Lions up 20-15. Ali Frantti and Tori Gorrell paced the blue and white with tremendous showings in the opening frame, playing a large part in Penn State’s 6.5-0 blocking advantage.
Rose called time following the Nittany Lions’ second set point, 24-22. The very next serve, Simone Lee’s third kill of the match gave Penn State a huge 25-22 win to open things up. Both teams’ setters — Abby Detering and Kelly Hunter — were dealing in the first set with 11 assists apiece. Hunter would tally with a match-high 61 when all was said and done. Senior Andie Malloy showed why she’s one of the Big Ten’s most respected outside hitters, reaching double-digit kills midway through the second set. She and Mikaela Foecke would lead the Huskers with 19 kills apiece.
Down 12-9, Gorrell and Heidi Thelen combined for an emphatic block to get Penn State going again. Freshman libero Kendall White was phenomenal defensively, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t hang on in a 17-25 loss that tied the match 1-1 heading into the intermission. The Indianapolis native led all players with a career-high 32 digs on the night. White’s feat marked the first time a Nittany Lion had surpassed the 30-digs mark since Alyssa D’Errico’s 35 against Minnesota in 2010. Sophomore Keeton Holcomb added 10 digs of her own before the final whistle.
Lee’s 10th kill of the match gave Penn State a 7-5 lead to open the third set. Rose elected to switch things up a few points later, as backup setter Bryanna Weiskircher checked into the match following a nice run by the Huskers. She would finish with 28 assists and four digs. Staring a 14-7 deficit in the face, Penn State wasn’t going to let the set slip away. The Nittany Lions rallied all the way back to tie the match at 20-20, prompting an enormous roar from Rec Hall and a timeout by Nebraska. After giving up three straight points, Penn State went on a 3-1 run, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Huskers from going up 2-1 thanks to a 25-23 win.
Lee and Haleigh Washington, who added 13 kills, really turned things on offensively in the fourth set, helping the Nittany Lions to a 16-14 lead. They would break the 20-20 tie and go on to force five with a 25-23 victory. Down 9-4 in the fifth set, Detering came on to serve and provided two quick points. Penn State gave its all down the stretch but it wouldn’t be enough in a 15-11 loss to seal the match for the Huskers.
Player Of The Match
Simone Lee | Junior | Outside hitter
The Menomonee Falls, Wis., native finished with a double-double thanks to a match-high 23 kills, 13 digs, and a block.
The Nittany Lions are back in Rec Hall on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. against Iowa before the two schools face off on the gridiron just down the street later that night.