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No. 7 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Falls 3-1 To No. 8 Minnesota, Fails To Capture Big Ten Title

No. 7 Penn State women’s volleyball wrapped up its regular season with a 3-1 loss to No. 8 Minnesota Saturday night at Rec Hall.

Tori Gorrell recorded a career-high 17 kills in the 25-19, 20-25, 20-25, 23-25 loss to the Golden Gophers.

Penn State failed to clinch a share of the 2019 Big Ten title with tonight’s loss to Minnesota. The title was won outright by Wisconsin earlier Saturday evening thanks to the Badgers’ sweep over Rutgers.

How It Happened

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

Saturday’s match began with the typical back-and-forth action you’d expect from two volleyball powerhouses. Penn State ultimately pulled out a 25-19 win thanks to the Nittany Lions collectively hitting .438 and recording 17 kills. Hord, Parker, and Gorrell combined for six total blocks in the first frame.

Penn State’s fortune changed in the second game, as Minnesota came back with a vengeance. The Gophers hit .424 in set two and limited Penn State to a measly .219 clip. The Nittany Lions six hitting errors ultimately came back to haunt them in the second frame.

The Nittany Lions lost set three 25-20 thanks to all-around sloppy play. Penn State totaled 10 (yes, 10) attack errors in the frame and hit just .089 as a team. You can’t win like that, and Russ Rose’s squad certainly didn’t.

Penn State cleaned up its act a bit in the fourth frame, playing more competitively with Minnesota’s offense and putting together a few impressive rallies. That effort ultimately fell short, as Minnesota stormed back to win 25-23 and take the match 3-1 despite a whopping nine tie scores and two lead changes.

Four Nittany Lions — Gorrell (17), Gray (13), Hord (13), and Parker (11) — posted double-digit kill totals in the four-set loss. Blossom, who dished out 50 assists, tacked on a surprising four kills, bringing her weekend total up to nine. Not bad for a shorter setter!

Hord led the way defensively with six blocks, while Keeton Holcomb contributed 12 digs off of the bench.

White picked up 19 digs in Saturday’s match, bringing her career total up to 1,942. She needs just 16 more to pass Kaleena Walters and become Penn State’s all-time digs leader.

“I’m a little disappointed with how we played, but I’m not disappointed with the support that we received from the fans this weekend,” Rose said. “I thought we were real high emotionally at the start. A couple [players] just ran out of gas, and that’s part of the game.

“The highs and lows of the game can get you, but I think Minnesota played really well,” Rose said.

Following Penn State’s loss to Minnesota, Wisconsin claimed the 2019 Big Ten title with its 18-2 conference record. The Nittany Lions would’ve shared the title with the Badgers if they had defeated the Gophers.

Player Of The Match

Tori Gorrell | Middle Blocker

It’s fitting for Gorrell to put out the best performance of her career in her final regular-season match at Rec Hall. The redshirt senior posted a career-high 17 kills on .256 hitting in addition to a block and a dig.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions (24-5, 17-3 Big Ten) will rest up and await their NCAA Tournament seeding, which will arrive at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 1 in the tournament’s annual Selection Show on ESPNU. Penn State will likely host the first two rounds of the tournament at Rec Hall on December 6 and 7, respectively.

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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 with distinction 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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