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Women’s Volleyball Tops Illinois 3-1 On Senior Night

No. 15 Penn State (22-9, 14-6 Big Ten) sent its three seniors — Carley Muller, Laura Broerman, and Taylor Krause — out with a bang on Senior Night in Rec Hall.

Russ Rose’s Nittany Lions outlasted Illinois 3-1 (25-18, 26-24, 19-25, 25-21) Saturday following the football team’s thrilling 45-12 victory across campus.

How It Happened

Penn State opened the match on fire, taking a quick 12-3 lead over Kevin Hambly’s Illini. They would cut things to 22-16, but junior Heidi Thelen slammed down the final kill of the first set off a crisp pass from setter Abby Detering. Illinois turned tings around in the second set, grinding its way to a 18-17 advantage over the Nittany Lions. Simone Lee and Thelen hammered home a pair of back-to-back kills to complete Penn State’s rally for a 26-24 win.

The Illini, who were paced offensively by freshman Jacqueline Quade and senior Michelle Strizak, leapt out to a 6-2 lead to start the third frame. The duo would finish the night with 14 and 11 kills, respectively. The ladies from Champaign broke the 18-18 tie with a 7-1 run to capture their lone set of the match. Illinois took a 4-1 lead to open the fourth, but this time the Nittany Lions returned the favor, doling out a 9-5 run when it was 16-all to secure the victory.

Rose was able to get Muller, Broerman, and Krause some on-court action during their final regular-season match in Rec Hall. In total, four Nittany Lions finished with double-digit kills. Lee provided a match-high 20 kills and five digs, while outside hitter Ali Frantti added 16 of her own and seven digs. She’s been on a roll the last three matches with a combined 41 kills — her best three-tilt stretch of the season. Thelen and middle blocker Haleigh Washington both chipped in 10 kills apiece. Redshirt freshman Tori Gorrell finished with four and two blocks to round out the scoring.

Illinois’ Brandi Donnelly barely outdueled libero Kendall White with a match-high 18 digs to 16 from the freshman Indianapolis native. Keeton Holcomb and Lainy Pierce dished out a combined five digs on the defensive end. The taller Illini showed up above the net, however, finishing with a positive 12-5 margin in the blocking game.

Player Of The Match

Abby Detering | Junior | Setter

For the second night in a row, Detering gets the nod here. The Mentor, Ohio, native led Penn State to an efficient .329 hitting percentage on a match-high 57 assists. She added seven digs, four kills, and a pair of service aces.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will find out their NCAA Tournament first-round matchup, and whether they’ll be one of 16 teams to host a regional, on Sunday at 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

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