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No. 7 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Drops Five-Set Heartbreaker To No. 8 Nebraska

No. 7 Penn State women’s volleyball wrapped up a three-match road trip with a five-set loss to No. 8 Nebraska Saturday night in Lincoln.

Jonni Parker led the Nittany Lions with 16 kills in the 18-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-21, 13-15 loss to the Cornhuskers.

How It Happened

Russ Rose’s starting lineup featured outside hitters Jonni Parker and Allyson Cathey, setter Gabby Blossom, middle blockers Kaitlyn Hord and Serena Gray, defensive specialist Jenna Hampton, and libero Kendall White.

The Nittany Lions jumped out to an impressive 8-4 lead in the opening set but ultimately couldn’t keep up with the Cornhusker’s potent offense, losing the set 25-18. Nebraska outside hitter tallied five kills and two blocks in the opening set.

Penn State jumped out to a quick lead once again in the second set, going up 5-2 early on. This time, the Nittany Lions played a cleaner game and came out on top 25-18 thanks to stellar defensive play and a lack of offensive mistakes. Penn State committed just five hitting errors in the set — a stark contrast to Nebraksa’s 10.

Nebraska fought back in the third set and won 25-21 thanks to strong blocking and a string of sloppy plays on Penn State’s part. The Cornhuskers notched four blocks in the set and greatly benefitted from the Nittany Lions’ five attack errors and two ball-handling errors.

The Nittany Lions outplayed Nebraska in the fourth set, winning it 25-21 and forcing a fifth deciding set. Defensive specialist Keeton Holcomb secured the victory with back-to-back service aces.

While Penn State stayed competitive with Nebraska in the fifth set, the Cornhuskers’ potent offense simply overwhelmed the Nittany Lions through and through. They won the match by taking the deciding set 15-13.

Nebraska’s high-powered attack was on full display Saturday night. Lexi Sun led the way with 20 kills, while Madi Kubik and Lauren Stivrins followed closely with 15 and 14, respectively.

Jonni Parker was Penn State’s kills leader in this one, racking up 16 on .264 hitting. She also tacked on 10 digs, three blocks, and a service ace in the loss.

Setter Gabby Blossom dished out 49 assists in the loss to the Cornhuskers. She’s now recorded more than 40 assists in four consecutive matches and ranks first among Big Ten setters with 826 assists on the season.

Kendall White led the way defensively for the Nittany Lions, racking up 17 digs in the match. With a career total of 1,818, White now needs just 140 more to become Penn State’s all-time digs leader.

It wasn’t just White on defense, though. Defensive specialists Jenna Hampton and Keeton Holcomb each set season-highs with 15 and 11 digs, respectively, while Blossom recorded 13 herself. At the net, Serena Gray and Kaitlyn Hord contributed four and three blocks, respectively.

Nebraska snapped Penn State’s eight-match winning streak with the dramatic five-set victory. The two programs won’t meet again in the regular season, but a postseason showdown can’t be ruled out just yet.

Player Of The Match

Lexi Sun | Outside Hitter

Sun truly did it all for the Cornhuskers Saturday night. On top of her match-high 20 kills, Sun recorded seven digs and four blocks and accounted for 22 of her team’s 100 points. Sheesh!

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions (17-4, 10-2 Big Ten) will return home Friday, November 8 to take on Indiana at Rec Hall. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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